How many times have you read and heard people tell you how you can find your purpose and stepped back, still scratching your head?
I’m pretty quick to grasp most things in life. So whenever I’m stumped on a topic like I was with this, I know it’s because of one of two reasons: It’s either a) I’ve missed a huge point and need to circle back to the beginning and scan for it, or b) whoever has been explaining it to me, doesn’t get it themselves, either.
What does that even mean, to find your purpose?
I’ve been deeply considering this question for over two dedicated decades, and I finally rolled up my sleeves and put on my problem solving hat as a former lawyer — it was time to figure this shit out.
As a kid, I was always drawn to solving mysteries, so I tapped into that energy and went to my trusty assistant, Google. I Googled “what is the meaning of purpose?” and this is what I found:
The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
When I read that definition of purpose, I thought to myself, no wonder you’re so fricken confused, girlfriend! That definition was simply too fucking huge for me to get my head around. Seriously, trying to figure out why I exist, or why I was made? That shit is going to keep the best of us stuck… and maybe even stuck for at least a few bloody lifetimes. And quite frankly, dwelling on stuff just isn’t my bag — I’d rather name it, clear it, and move on. Who wants to have to carry this uncertainty over into the next life? Not me! I want to make my time here brilliant, and if I play my billiards right, to come back in my next life time ahead of the eight ball!
It also helps that I figured out long ago that life is actually meant to be simple, and that us humans tend to complicate the simplest of things. So, keeping that in mind, the next simple thing I did in my pursuit of learning what my purpose was to look up synonyms of purpose.
Are you ready for profoundly simple? The kind that solves the most complex mystery?
Purpose, noun, synonyms:
Determination, resoluteness, resolution, resolve, firmness (of purpose), steadfastness, backbone, drive, push, thrust, enthusiasm, ambition, initiative, enterprise, motivation, single-mindedness, commitment, conviction, dedication; get-up-and-go.
I’m also pretty persistent, so I added that in there for good measure.
Do you see what I saw?
Seeing those lined up like that was like hitting rewind on my life and witnessing all of the times that I had been driven, enthusiastic, ambitious, motivated, committed, dedicated, persistent, and so on. And it dawned on me that at all of those times, I was living my purpose. It didn’t matter what I was doing, I was embodying purpose — I was living my purpose.
It didn’t matter what I was doing, but that I was doing it with enthusiasm, ambition, or dedication (among other traits). Apparently, finding my purpose was just about noticing where I was being my true self every single day.
Thanks, Shakespeare. To my own self, be true.
My purpose was to be true to me, and the true me. Nothing more, nothing less.
The further back I scanned, the more aligned this became for me. Being authentically and uniquely me was my purpose.
That little exercise lifted both my confusion and the massive burden off my shoulders — a burden I’ve carried for over half of my life. What a relief it was to realize that I can do me better than anyone else can do me.
But — and yes there is a but — I also needed to look at the time I spent not living my purpose. Despite the lightbulb of discovering not only the definition of purpose, and, what mine was, I knew I actually spent way more time denying that truth. I mean, how hard is it to fuck up being yourself? By the looks of things, it was pretty bloody easy at the time. What’s more, when I looked around me, I saw that most people are also fucking up being themselves, too. Another way we humans were taking something so simple and over-complicating it… again!
We get so focused on being and doing who and what we think we should bedoing.
We go on an external hunt for what our purpose is, whether that’s through jobs, relationships, hobbies, or parenting, but the answer was never there.
If we slow down long enough to listen and be true to ourselves — if we speak our truths, if we live our truths in the moment, and from moment-to-moment, that’s when the life that we really want to be living will break free.
Can you even imagine?
Think about it: If you could wake up tomorrow and say and do exactly what you wanted to do, without worrying about what anyone else thought, or worrying that you were being selfish, or that you would hurt others by your truths, what would your life look like?
I’ll tell you one thing, for sure:
You wouldn’t be bitching and moaning.
You wouldn’t be crying.
You wouldn’t be filled with regret or confusion
And you wouldn’t be full of fear or longing for something else, because you would be doing anything and everything that was true to you.
Suffice it to say however, I can totally understand what the difficulty for most of us who aren’t living our purpose — being our true selves is, it’s because we’re imagining all kinds of things like how others won’t accept our choices or us for being our authentic selves. We worry that we may be perceived as selfish if we pursue what it is we really want, or, that we may hurt people in that pursuit.
But we both know that when it comes to the crunch, the only acceptance we need is from ourselves. I know this now!
Another one of my favourite purposeful people is bestselling author, Paulo Coelho. His parents admitted him to a psychiatric ward for the first time, when he was 16 because they thought there was something wrong with him. Paulo wanted to pursue a creative career over the more socially acceptable or family-expected career of becoming a lawyer or an engineer. Paulo stuck to his truth and pursued his creativity. And take a look at him now.
When you are living your purpose, being your true self, it then becomes much easier to find what you are passionate about and what you love doing… and those things may change with time, and that’s more than okay. I used to think finding our purpose meant I had to find the ONE thing I was good at, and stick to doing it forever. No wonder I was confused… that’s not the meaning of purpose at all! Sure, single-focus-interest works for some people, but it’s not always the case. Could you imagine Oprah, Warren Buffet, or Jim Carrey trying to force themselves to only have enthusiasm or determination for one project or curiosity, or interest in life? I didn’t think so.
I leave you with this: if there’s one thing you do, always be yourself and listen to yourself. Tap into your own inner wisdom. You know what’s better for you more than anyone else does, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, run the other way.