Finding your purpose – is it really that important?
Search “finding your purpose” on Google and you’ll get over 1 billion results in under a second. Why is this such a popular search? Has society really taught us that fulfilment in life relies on pursuing a purpose? But is it really true that we need a purpose in life to feel fulfilled?
What does purpose mean to you?
According to the dictionary, our purpose is the reason we exist on this earth. Which kind of suggests that we need to accomplish an end goal to fulfil our life’s purpose. Some people do have their life’s purpose figured out and if that’s you, that’s amazing! Although if you’re like me, not having a clue about what you’re doing in life could develop a longing to find your purpose.
Figuring out what having a purpose means to you may or may not be plain sailing. It can be useful to question if you buy into the idea that your purpose is a single end goal. What if your purpose is continuous? Do you have multiple purposes? Or is there a chance you’ve lived out some of your purpose(s) already? For me, the best way of challenging my perception was questioning how life would change if I did find my purpose.
To help understand what purpose means to you, there are loads of different exercises you could try. They usually involve answering probing questions to help explore what your purpose might be. You can expect questions like “what frustrates you in the world and how would you solve that problem?”. For some, these exercises are perfect and really do help create a vision for your purpose. For others, like myself, exercises on finding your purpose aren’t that useful. There was no slow-burning idea in the background or a light bulb moment where my purpose suddenly became clear. Although well intended, all the exercises I did on finding your purpose only instilled worry rather than motivation.
Limiting beliefs could be blocking your purpose.
Eventually, I ended up creating a tunnel vision around finding my purpose and all it did was stress me out. All this resulted in was the limiting belief that finding your purpose is fundamental to success (it really isn’t). The concept of finding a purpose was driving me crazy. At any given point I could be heard asking “what am I doing with my life” or “what if I’m on the wrong path?”. Even applying for jobs was putting me through emotional turmoil because I couldn’t find any position that excited me. This is where my limiting beliefs around finding your purpose really kicked in. By this point, if a job opportunity didn’t excite me, I didn’t see it as aligned with my purpose. Overthinking around finding a job aligned with my purpose only added to the pressure that already comes with job searching.
Thanks to my newfound need to find a purpose, I tried my best to figure out my life’s purpose. Too many articles were read, podcasts listened to and Ted talks binged watched, all in hope of finding a magical tool to unlock my purpose. But nothing worked. I simply could not come to a singular idea of what I want to pursue for the rest of my life. This dilemma inspired my journey to start challenging my limiting beliefs around success and fulfilment relying on finding a purpose.
After reading some personal development books and far too many conversations about finding your purpose, my thinking began to change. Doing some inner work really helped to dissolve my limiting beliefs around finding your purpose. My beliefs around finding your purpose are now hugely different to 12 months ago. I now believe that finding your purpose isn’t fundamental to being successful and that we can never be on the “wrong” path. As well a believing now that my purpose isn’t singular, rather I will have many purposes throughout life.
A friend once told me a beautiful analogy for having faith you’ll always end up on the right path;-
“Life is like a stream, you can only go against it for so long before you get pushed back in the right direction”@_kajol.d / @_saath._
Just start doing – your passion and purpose will follow
By focussing too much on finding your purpose, you could miss out on some amazing opportunities. Think about how many times you’ve been told to stop mulling something over and just get going. There’s a reason that doing something, anything, is 100 times better than doing nothing!
So many people out there are doing things they never dreamed of and they all started somewhere. I doubt they sat around wondering if that admin job was aligned with their purpose (I am very guilty of doing this). If you don’t have anything in mind to get stuck into right now, why not try doing more of something you enjoy? You never know what opportunities might come along, especially if you approach it with an open mind. What have you got to lose?
If I haven’t convinced you yet to just start doing, take a look at one of my favourite Ted Talks for some motivation;-
Make the concept of “finding your purpose” work for you
There are probably plenty of ways to make the idea of finding your purpose work for you. I’m going to look at the 2 ways I consider to be the main ones.
- If you know your purpose, go ahead and take the leap in working towards it.
- Don’t know your purpose? Why not get excited about all the different possibilities and keep an open mind.
Knowing your purpose is a great starting place, but if you don’t translate this knowledge to action, what’s the point? Sometimes taking the leap can be scary, especially if it means leaving your comfort zone. Although chances are it’ll always be worth it regardless of how it works out. You might need to fail along the way and it might not be easy, but it’s all part of the process. If something doesn’t work out, you’ll probably learn something to make the next idea a success. Try to create a vision for yourself to keep up the motivation. A fun way to make your purpose and vision visible is to make a vision board. If you keep it somewhere you see regularly, you’ve created a daily reminder of why you do what you do. Not forgetting that the power of visualisation is real.
On the flip side, it can be exciting to not know your purpose. Plus it’s a chance to practice letting go of control and surrendering to what life has in store for you (which is something I need to do more). There are endless possibilities of where your life could go. Having a positive outlook could mean you end up with a life beyond what you ever expected. Making peace with not knowing my purpose really helped shift my outlook to become more positive. It was looking at my limiting beliefs through inner work that helped this shift to a positive mindest. If you manage to take the worry about finding your purpose away or even just minimise it, you can make space to enjoy the journey.
With a positive outlook, it can be effortless to take away positives from every situation. Finding the positives in an enjoyable experience is easy, but can be much harder to find in a negative experience. Looking back at negative experiences, the positives I take from them are usually life lessons that will help me out in the future. By doing this I’ve even managed to find a silver lining to living with epilepsy.
Make peace with not finding your purpose.
Dissolving my limiting beliefs around finding your purpose did not happen overnight. I actively worked on stopping myself worrying about making aligned choices by becoming more aware of my thoughts. Meditation and plenty of personal development exercises helped me to notice my thoughts more. If you want to do the same, you can find plenty of different resources online to help dissolve limiting beliefs. I really do recommend challenging your preceptions around finding your purpose. I cannot emphasise enough the positive changes that came from challenging my thinking about finding my purpose.
After changing my thinking around finding a purpose, my life has become so much easier. There’s no more worrying about decisions being aligned with my purpose and it’s great.
Finding your purpose is great if it’s easy to identify. But if finding your purpose just isn’t working for you, don’t stress it! Either way, it can’t hurt to try and put your faith in the universe. Why not experiment with surrendering to the flow of life? It could end up taking you on an exciting journey as it did with Michael A. Singer. So try to keep an open mind and see what happens, especially with all the curveballs life throws at us. Who knows, your purpose might just find you when you least expect it.