Ever hear or think this?
You need to find your one, all-consuming purpose, what you are here on Earth to do, before you can start down a path that leaves you fulfilled
I’ve studied hundreds of career, inspirational, religious and theological, philosophical and practical living books and been to many lectures and trainings led by leaders in each discipline. And, in almost every single one, I’ve been told that before I can really get the most out of my career, I need to learn, with absolute certainty, my life’s purpose.
Not my passions, not what I love to do, not the impact I want to have or who I want to spend my days with. But…
My personal universal truth.
The one thing I’ve been put upon this planet to do.
And, in an effort to help facilitate my indisputable aha-moment, my ultimate awakening, I’ve been taken through processes, experiences, visualizations, worksheets, spreadsheets, bed sheets and more. I’ve been told to make lists, journals, check boxes, fill-out forms, stay in dorms, write and re-write for hours and iterations until I bawled in ecstatic revelation (I faked it, so I could go home).
And, maybe, for some people this works.
If that’s you, fabu! Give it a go and see if you can shortcut the process.
But, my fear is, for many more, the pressure to come up with an answer through the cacophony of methods before you are allowed to take action to create a meaningful path becomes not a facilitating event, but a massive roadblock.
Because, if the answer does not come quickly or easily through these processes and techniques, there is a near-overwhelming impulse to just give up on not only figuring out your life’s purpose, but taking any steps to create a more meaningful working life.
Does that mean I don’t believe it’s important to pursue an answer to what you are here on Earth to do?
Not at all.
But, there’s a better way to go about discovering that purpose or combination of purposes.
A longer-term exploration that enables, rather than discourages, action that leads to meaning. Rather than beginning with the requirement to reveal your life-purpose as a pre-requisite to taking action, why not reverse-engineer it?
Chunk it down. Discover the far more easily-identifiable “overarching qualities” of work that allow your spirit to incrementally come back to life, build more of what you do, your work and play, around them.
Then step back and give your life-purpose the chance to emerge over time as the by-product of the joy, space and clarity created by simply spending your days engaged in work that is deeply-meaningful and rewarding.
It may take decades or a lifetime.
Honestly, if it doesn’t or you claim to know it before you’ve lived enough of life to have the experience to even know what matters, there’s a pretty good likelihood you’re gonna make a wrong guess. Or your guess will be right…for the moment. But, as you evolve, so will it.
And, if it’s really your universal truth, that’s not supposed to happen.
How many people stand weeping on the day of their marriages at the gift of finding their soulmates so early in life. They’ve never been surer, at the age of 25, that the person who stands before them is who they are meant to be with…forever. Yet, 10 years down the road, an astonishing percentage of those very couples end up in divorce.
Through a process of years, we evolve…
And we experience enough of what makes us come alive and what empties our souls to finally have enough evidence and intuition to let us divine some sense, if we are listening, of why we are here or, at least, who and what makes us come alive.
And, very often, it’s not one thing…but a whole bunch.
But, it’s near impossible to know that until you’ve got a fair bit of the Earth’s mud on your psychic boots.
You may never feel you’ve discovered that singular life –purpose.
But, by allowing an exploration and evolution of meaningful work to lead to the discovery of the elements, actions, people and activities that make you come alive, you remove the potential barrier to action that comes with the instruction that “you can’t take action until you know your life purpose.”
It takes away the pressure to know your life-purpose as a pre-requisite to begin the exploration of meaningful work.
Might having some singular life purpose accelerate your path to meaningful work? Maybe so. I honestly don’t know.
I can’t say I have one, yet my days are filled with amazing things, I drink in life, I work at things I love with people I love. And, those things change all the time. Yet, I still feel incredibly fulfilled.
I believe, for most of us, life purpose isn’t one thing, it’s just a deepening awareness of the qualities of living that make us come alive. Once known, those qualities can be applied in any number of ways.
And, they become apparent not through some short exercises, but rather over an extended period time, often decades, spent engaging in increasingly meaningful individual acts.
As always, just thinkin’ out loud, here.
So, I’m curious, what do you think?
What’d I miss?