I spent years chasing Purpose. I changed careers, tried new hobbies and threw myself into raising my daughter. Repeatedly I wondered, what was my purpose? Really? There must be something more, a connection to something bigger. Sure, having clients was great. My family was fulfilling, it’s just, that, well, it wasn’t quite… enough. (Am I allowed to say that out loud?)
I wasn’t having a religious or existential crisis, but more a crisis of the heart. I was yearning for a feeling of making a difference, and I wondered if I should I just choose something, anything, and go for it. Maybe a new career, or I could go back to school.
Secretly I was thinking: Was there some preordained thing I was supposed to do, and I just didn’t see it yet?
Finally, after 20 years of chasing something that can’t be chased, all while coaching clients into sharing their missions and legacy, I’ve learned the obvious.
What I know for sure (as Oprah would say) is that you and I and our neighbors are all already living purpose, even if we don’t’ know what that is. We may not be in our passions. We may have sometimes exceedingly difficult lives that put us on autopilot, but this I do know for sure:
If you are alive, you are living your purpose.
Our purpose is all about ‘being’. Everyone we touch through a smile, any connections we make with people, animals and even plants are us living our purpose. Purpose is how we share our heart and not how we make our living.
Three of my takeaways after talking and teaching purpose for over 20 years are:
Your passions may be expressed through your day-to-day living and through work, but purpose is always consistent and never-ending.
Granted, it may seem like you don’t know your next step. Perhaps you are waiting for the thunderbolt of Divinely Inspired Clarity paired with intuition as well as guidance to rain down upon you before you make a step in any direction.
Sorry. It’s just not happening.
So now what?
The real question isn’t about purpose. It’s about ‘what’s next’ for me?
Try asking yourself:
Who am I here to serve, teach or inspire over my lifetime?
When I ask this with clients, they always answer with full, truthful clarity. Though they may speak with resignation, it is from the heart, often with deep sighs as if they remember dreams long past that were put away on a shelf for later.
I’m here to teach.
I want to be on stage.
I’d love to move to be closer to family.
My calling has always been to minister to the poor.
You want to share your wisdom and grace and experience, and I’m hereby giving you permission to just be you. More of you, fully being who you are, and less of you doing, rushing, and wondering and worrying about who you could be. Take one small step (or a huge, big step if you like) and be who you are, and do whatever you need to, and just open your heart and share yourself.
Once you step into knowing that you are in exactly the right place and it’s the right time, then if you choose to take purposeful action, it will be from the place of be-ing-ness, and not the do-ing place. You will feel aligned with your purpose.
We feel we aren’t living the dream life and make up stories.
I don’t know my next step.
I’m too old… too young… too whatever…
And then pretend we are confused. Subsequently, we readily acknowledge as we laugh over coffee with friends – even in our 60s and beyond – “Oh, I’m not sure what I want to do when I grow up.” Really, it’s just fear disguised as misguided modesty.
After all, we procrastinate, wash dishes, clean closets. Do anything rather than show up to ourselves. When we glimpse our inner clarity, we don’t accept it, and default into labeling it confusion, or procrastination, until we can’t ignore it any longer.
When that happens, we hit bottom. It might come from an outside influence like a death of a loved one or (in my case) losing a successful business and all the benefits that came with it. These outside things (which could also be filing for divorce or quitting a job), as well as the items creating an internal chaos, force us to reconnect with who we are.
Life is messy. People get sick, our beloved pets die. We suffer loss, and with each loss, we internalize it as a setback, something we’ve done wrong or that we didn’t do at all. If we’ve experienced abuse or trauma, the covering of our brilliance is even more impactful with a full blanket that provides a cover of protection. I understand. I feel for you. But I want to see you shine.
It’s time for a little spit and polish. Clean up the dust, put away the fog blanket, and allow the light inside to shine deeply.
Then, Dream. Be You. And Go, Be in Purpose. Just Be.
Are you trying to make your passion your purpose? What happens if you never get clarity on your purpose? Does it matter in the biggest scheme of life if you never know?