23 Mar The Choice of Purpose
Do you remember a time in your life when you wondered, “What the heck am I doing with my life?” Maybe you feel that way right now; perhaps you will again someday in the future. It is a common theme for most of us. And it may continue to come up for us for as long as we lack a clearly defined life purpose. There will be periods of life when we are engrossed in relationships, jobs, travel, etc. But, without a purpose, the question may always be looming. Our relationships and activities don’t themselves constitute a purpose in the broad sense that I mean it. On the other hand, relationships, jobs, and travel can be aligned with our greater purpose, and feel more deeply meaningful when we know why we are doing them.
When I was 21, I was lucky enough to meet my husband, Peter. He has shared so many new ideas and concepts with me – he is basically my personal Wikipedia. When we first met, he introduced me to a profound series of courses on personal development. It is one of the greatest gifts he has ever given me (thanks, Honey!), and I use the skills that I learned in those courses every day of my life. One of the main emphases of the courses was: get a purpose for your life.
I’m going to repeat that: get a purpose for your life. Not find your purpose – but get a purpose, and more specifically – choose a purpose. Many of us spend our 20’s (and often 30’s) trying to find our purpose by checking out different things – different jobs, different scenes, different religions – and hoping that one of them will grab us and reveal our purpose to us. . But this seems to be more the exception than the rule. It is easier and, well, more purposeful, to just choose a purpose now, rather than hoping one will hit us on the head. Once you have a clearly defined purpose for your life, everything you do has a context. If you’re on the fence about something, you can evaluate it with your purpose in mind: would this be aligned with my purpose or would it lead me astray? Of course, you can’t always know at the outset whether a certain path will take you where you aim to go, but at least you’ve chosen a destination.
I’m going to walk you through one way to get your purpose right now (don’t wait – do this now!).
- Who do you want to serve? Yep, that’s right – your purpose is about serving others. The reason for this is very simple: if your attention isn’t on serving others you will lose your focus before you wake up tomorrow morning. When our attention is focused on the world inside our mind, it’s easy to spend our life immersed in our own commentary, most of which is useless and redundant, and all about us. Scrutinizing our hair, our butt, our skin, our clothes, our stuff. . . It’s not that this stuff shouldn’t get any of our attention; it’s just not significant enough to be the purpose of a joyful life. When we shift our attention to serving a purpose that’s bigger than us, we start engaging with life at the frontier where it’s actually happening. It’s like moving up from the back seat to the front seat of our life. The mental chatter and self-scrutiny stays in the back seat.
You can choose to serve whatever moves you: the environment, women, men, children, your species in general, animals . . . There are lots of options, but you need to be clear.
- What is the outcome you want for the group you are serving? Happiness, money, beer, safe enviroments, focus, clean water, confidence, health, education, the ability to be present, etc. It needs to be something that inspires you to action.
- How are you going to achieve this outcome for your group? Choose words that feel right to you. The mind works in language, and choosing the ideal language to state your purpose will help focus your mind on it. For instance, do you want to inspire them to be confident, or do you want to guide them to find their confidence? Here is a quick list of action words to get your wheels turning: influence, teach, organize, promote, inspire, prepare, guide, educate, support, assist, empower, encourage, help.
Here are some examples of how the above examples work together:
– My purpose is to teach children to create.
– My purpose is to assist animals in need.
– My purpose is to inspire men to communicate their feelings honestly.
– My purpose is to help the environment by preserving sources of clean water.
– My purpose is to empower women.
– My purpose is to inspire people to love themselves.
Once you have chosen your purpose, live your life from this place. If you find yourself feeling, “What am I doing with my life?”, remember and re-engage with your purpose. The venue is so much less important than the purpose behind it. You could be working as a barista in a coffee shop, showing up every day at work knowing that your purpose is to uplift people through loving communication. You will never have a “wasted” moment. You could be a more significant healing force in the world, through the hundreds of customers who leave your presence a bit happier, than someone who has chosen a more overt healing profession!
Tough choices can be evaluated on the basis of whether they would they would support or hinder your chosen purpose. If you’re wallowing in life’s drama, there is always a way out – serve your purpose without any wavering. If you are on a vacation or partaking in some recreation, you can feel secure in the fact that relaxing and recharging are purposeful, since this will help you avoid burn-out. So, there is no use in feeling guilty about taking time off.
If you have a business, I believe you should also choose a clear purpose for the business. Making money can be a wonderful side benefit, but when the business is committed to a greater purpose, this gives it clarity and focus. The business becomes something of a living entity, because it exists to serve. Plus, if you have reservations about promoting yourself, when you define and get behind the purpose of the business, you can feel comfortable promoting it unabashedly. My businesses have purposes that align with my own life purpose. And we hire people whose life purposes align with our business’s purpose. Otherwise, we would end up with conflict.
What is your purpose? Now that you have found it (just kidding – I know you chose it), share it with me in the comments below.
With so much love,