Whether preoccupied or hell-bent on an idea, the decision was made; you’d resolved to go for it. It wasn’t a mistake—or an accident—it was on purpose! Your actions had intent, they were focused on a certain outcome, result or effect.
Throughout your lifetime you’ll have made countless purposeful decisions. What sport or instrument to play, what college to attend and courses to pursue, deliberate experiences, choice of vocation, geographic locations, when to have a family, or not…the examples are seemingly infinite.
The creation of purpose is seeded in desire
The environments you navigate, the experiences you acquire, and the desire you attach to the attainment of greater ease, joy, accomplishment, and challenge in your life, inspire the origins of purpose.
@@Purpose is universally present in each of us whether we’re aware of it or not at the time.@@
It reveals itself in the expression of your preferences, deeply held beliefs, survival instinct, a calling, investigation and the “need to know,” or taking unmistakable risks and “going for broke.”
The very character of purpose has the aura of magic. Purpose feels good; it’s intimidating, energetic, audacious, liberating, and exciting. It has grit; it’s dauntless, committed, persevering, and restless. Purpose evokes surprise, invites celebration and raises disbelief.
Can you tap into the fever pitch of your past experiences with purpose? The excitement and inner knowing. Your doubts, fears, the unknown cast aside; temporarily caught off guard by the thrill of opportunities, invigorated with fresh thought and new direction, energized by the possibilities. Harkening back, slogging through the blur of time, can you evoke that earlier, passionate and purposed, version of yourself?
Off the grid without a signal.
You’ve done a mental inventory; rewarding career – check, financial independence –check, happily coupled, terrific kids/pets, vacations, health, hobbies…check, check, check. Overall life is pretty decent; you’re thankful, and perhaps even embarrassed to admit that “something” is off, unfulfilled. The sensations of feeling uninspired, flat, distracted, restless, depressed, and annoyed are unfamiliar and confusing.
If prompted, would you be able to identify and declare your purpose or have you meandered off course and become completely disconnected from what you love, your passion, the life you crave?
With the absence of purpose, it’s these subtle predictive sensations of imbalance that begin to shift how you experience your life. Your life is decent, good even; but you desire it to be great, and abundantly complete.
Let curiosity and inquiry be enough, for now.
It’s okay to not know what your purpose is every now and then, maybe it’s the first time you’ve really wrestled with the notion of purpose and you’re just trying to find it in the first place. You’re not alone; it’s often common in fact. Sometimes life just gets in the way.
Becoming sidetracked or stuck in patterns of responsibility and familiarity, intentionally avoiding the signals, ardently attending to others’ purpose while disengaging from your own. You may have unintentionally turned the volume down; but know that it can be cranked back up.
Give yourself permission to breathe, call ‘time-out,’ dump self-deprecating thoughts; it’s not time wasted. Your very life experiences up until now have charted the course for this very inquiry—a quest for greater meaning, to make a significant contribution, and to experience more out of your life.
You cannot unlearn the wisdom you’ve collected; the knowledge, insights, self-reflection, and personal growth are invaluable gifts you’ve acquired along the way. I encourage you to allow these interwoven experiences to be the parachute that allows soft landing onto new grounds for self-discovery.
Make no comparison to others. Your journey is your own and may travel a varied course over
Straight as an arrow, determined and precise, and at other times, less sure-footed and experienced as false starts, perhaps even requiring complete reinvention. Just start wherever you are.
Left unexplored, a sense of longing or feeling disconnected from your aspirations can become chronic, easily thwarting your efforts to get back in touch. Having a balanced sense of purpose is important, essential in fact to your emotional wellbeing. It strengthens your identity, relevance, sense of belonging, and self-worth. It gives you a reason to greet the day with enthusiasm and to fully plug into your life.
Mapping out how to get from point A to point B is important and requires that you have a general sense of where you’re currently located…and where you desire to end up. It begins with seeing the evidence of meaning already present in your life. Passion, drive, or the felt experiences of vitality, each are strong indicators of your purpose.
Whether front and center, or running in the background, it’s likely residing in one or many domains of your life. Setting your sights on the ideal destination requires clarity. You’ll want to envision what an abundantly complete life looks like to assure that you recognize it when you’ve finally arrived.
A reflective pause, “on purpose”
While I rarely invite individuals to look to the past, an exercise in purpose is one of few exceptions. The ebb and flow nature of purpose is an excellent study guide, and when understood, serves as an invaluable aid to recognizing the evolution of your purpose. By revisiting former decisions and choices that you made “on purpose”, you begin to reconnect to the sensations of passion, intellect and intuition.
- What brought you joy and gratification?
- What inspired you, taught you, and informed subsequent volition?
- And most importantly, why?
Reconnecting to original dreams, passion and purpose awakens the vitality and intensity of your unique mettle. It also allows you to pause and reflect upon who you’ve become; what aspects of character have you refined over time, what traits you’ve abandoned, and what core beliefs and values you stand for.
Life is ever changing and it waits for no one. The notion of life becoming easier as we advance is just that, a notion. Who you are as an individual at any given moment may be different from the previous. It's an unrehearsed life full of unexpected transitions. Careers, roles and relationships evolve, generations arrive and depart, and life events ensue without your approval. Resilience, how you react and respond, is your best defense toward maintaining who you are at your core, while developing a strategy to adapt to new and shifting landscapes.
A bevy of psychological distractions may attempt to obstruct your progress. Acknowledge that your fears and doubts are real—though not always rational—and they must be kept in check otherwise you’ll remain stuck where you are. No one is immune to the challenges that life presents. Accessing the past to glean insights about decisions made “on purpose” are invaluable, however, preoccupation with the past diminishes breakthrough momentum.
@@Your past does not define your future; you always have the ability to rewrite and self-author.@@
Striving for more rather than settling for less—on balance
I believe life should be meaningful, I also believe moderation is key. Keep it realistic, every moment of day-to-day living won’t be epic! Happiness without purpose is fleeting, purpose without happiness is exhausting.
A highly purposed life is more susceptible to stress, worry and anxiety while perceived happiness correlates to good health, wealth, satisfaction of needs and desires, and a greater overall sense of ease. The challenge is to continually cultivate a life of meaning that affords you happiness—it takes practice to strike the right balance.
If you want more, you have to make room for more, and then go get it—on purpose!
Awakening to your sense of purpose means saying, “Yes!” and stepping into the unknown. Perhaps it’s the desire to return to or arrive at self—desiring equilibrium and peace—reconnecting deeply, stripped of story, ego and worry. Perchance answering the call to do something significant and witnessing your contribution—your creation of legacy—knowing that your role and actions created an impact.
No matter what the origins of purpose, opportunities to say ‘yes’ happen every day, when you're paying attention. What can you do to better recognize the invitations, and where can you say more ‘yes’ in your life? Leave a comments and let's practice saying yes together.