THE JOURNEY TO YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE
I’ve been thinking about, talking about, and writing about finding Purpose and living a meaningful life for a long time. It all started when I studied Rick Warren’s best seller The Purpose Driven Life. No, this post is not about his book. Rick’s book was just the catalyst that launched my personal journey to find my Purpose in life that, frankly, continues today.
What I’m writing about is not the “purpose of life” kind of stuff. This is about YOUR life’s Purpose.
There is a big difference between the two ideas.
Your Purpose is individual, personal, unique and, I believe, God-given. Our personality, our skills, our talents, and our interests are not happenstance. Some might say these things are the results of the influences from our family and culture. That might be true, but I don’t overlook the fact that the family and the culture into which I was born is also unique and by design. There is not one person in the world today who is me and there is no other you.
As I began this journey I asked myself many questions along the way. When I talk to others about this topic I seem to hear the same questions I was asking. Isn’t it amazing that we are all asking these questions? Perhaps there is some kind of internal engine which drives us to answer them. Perhaps finding and living our life Purpose is really so important we can can’t it out of our minds!
Below I’ve listed the eight common questions asked most often about our life’s Purpose. Although they might be phrased differently by each of us, we seem to be asking, maybe searching, for the same answers.
After walking this path for the last several years, this is how I answer them today.
THE 7 QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Is it really that important to find my life purpose?
I answer this with a resounding YES!
Each one of us has a unique, God-given purpose. It is part of our spiritual DNA. We will forever be yearning to find it and to live it. Your life will never be as full and as meaningful as it can be without living your life’s Purpose. In other words, you won’t reach your full potential unless you are living on purpose and with purpose.
Having a purpose in life makes you wake up with enthusiasm. It’s what keeps you going when life’s challenges seem to overwhelm you.
This is not just about your work. What you do for a living is important and it may help you live your Purpose, but it is not the end all. Humans were created for much more than just work and careers. That is a lie modern American culture tells us. Your work is not your overall worth. What you do is not nearly as important as who you are. Until you find that you will always have a nagging emptiness in you. Sometimes you’ll barely feel this. Other time it will be paralyzing.
I experienced this for many years. Even when I was making a lot of money. To the outside world I may have seemed I had it made. Yet I was miserable. The nagging emptiness grew inside me because I was not living my Purpose. Good things were getting done by me. Those things, however, were not the best things I needed to do. And I could feel it.
That Lurking Emptiness
You don’t want to go through your life with that hint of emptiness lurking around. You’ll be always searching for the next thing that is going to fulfill you. Medicating yourself with experiences, relationships, vices, and activities but never finding the overwhelming joy and fulfillment you seek. If that is how you want to live, then finding your Purpose would be a waste of time for you.
However. If you want real life, real abundant life, you must find and live your Purpose. It is that important.
Does each individual have a life purpose?
I believe every person has a Purpose in life. It is unique to them and it is God given. Later I’m going to write another post (and will link to it here when I do) about why I think this is true.
All of us, at some point in our lives, will come to this realization. You may spend years searching for it and just not understand what you are looking for or why. I think this yearning to find the answer to these questions is proof positive that each individual does have a life Purpose.
Think about it this way… if our Creator has a unique Purpose for you specifically, would He not want you to know that? Would He not want you to pursue it and live it? Of course He would! It is embedded in our spiritual DNA. This is why we all have a drive and desire to answer and understand these questions. It is a hole we want to fill in our soul.
Why We Don’t Intuitively Know
Some might ask that if it is so important then why do we not just intuitively know what it is and then live it? Let me offer two short answers and I will explain these further in the coming weeks.
To begin, we all have free will. We can choose our path. If we choose a path that is not our life Purpose then it is a choice we are free to make. Like any other choice this one has consequences. To follow and live your life Purpose is to have a fulfilled and meaningful life. It is to have “life abundant”. To not follow and live your Purpose means you will always be searching for more and never fully engaged in the life you could live. This is a choice we are free to make.
Secondly, we don’t always intuitively know our life Purpose because we are constantly subjected to powerful messages that influence this choice. They influence our worldview. What is easier… to take the focused, introspective effort to truly understand what we are made to do or let Hollywood or Madison Avenue give us pictures to choose from.
I’m not trying to be flippant. In our stressed-out information overloaded world, we all suffer from decision fatigue. There are just too many messages and choices for us to filter. This is also something I will be writing more about in the coming weeks.
It was once said by the owner of a national chain of movie theaters…” People don’t go to the movies any more to be entertained, they go to learn how to live.”
If you don’t think that is true, just look at the negative influence pop culture has on almost every aspect of our life.
HOW THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
What are the sign when you finally fulfill your life purpose?
When I started my journey, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. I just knew I didn’t have it.
The one “sign” that told me I had found my Purpose was “perfect peace”. What I mean by perfect peace is the absence of that gnawing emptiness. It is the absence of that constant wondering if there is more for me than what I am doing.
I have done a lot of good things in my life. Most of us have. We will continue do good things. There is nothing wrong with that.
I wanted to be sure I was doing the best things, the right things for me. Even as I sit at my desk here in Nashville on this rainy morning writing this, I know I am accomplishing my Purpose. There is likely to be no other activity, conversation, or thought I engage today that will give me this same sense of fulfillment and contentment. Writing these words to help whoever might be reading them is what I should be doing and who I should become.
What gives your life purpose?
This can only be answered by you. Your purpose is as unique to you as is your fingerprint. No two of us is alike and neither is our respective life Purpose.
There may be times when you join together with others to live and fulfill our mutual Purposes. Even in that we each have an individual part to play. It is a part that only we can do ourselves.
Believe it or not, my Purpose is helping others answer this question!
Several years back I was trying to find this answer as well. I researched the topic and developed a process that helped me. Doing so has given me tremendous fulfillment and satisfaction. I encourage everyone to pursue this question!
SOME “HOW TO’S”
How do I focus on my life purpose?
Of course, the first step is to get in touch with the true identity and nature of your life’s Purpose. You can’t focus on something you don’t know about or understand. Then you have to be intentional about living your Purpose.
If you are reading this my guess is that you are a person with a lot of interests. An individual seeking to truly understand their Purpose and live it is someone tuned into themselves. You are exploring the things that capture your attention and curiosity – wondering if these things could have something to do with your Purpose.
From experience I can tell you that many of these things, while very good, are distractions. They may help you live your Purpose, but they can also keep you from it.
Here are some ideas to keep your focus on your Purpose:
- When you lay down to bed each night, consciously think about your Purpose. This will get your subconscious working on it while you sleep.
- Do the same thing again for a minute or two when you open your eyes in the morning. (Having a regular, morning ritual that includes these activities if extremely productive.)
- Read, read, read – all things that support and encourage your Purpose.
- Prayer is a big part of helping me focus on my Purpose. Since I firmly believe it is God-given it just makes sense to stay connected daily to that power!
How does your view of life’s purpose change as you grow older?
While this is certainly a legitimate question, I find it often people confuse “Purpose” with “passion”.
In the simplest terms Purpose is your life calling and passion is how you achieve or live that calling. Maybe a personal example would be helpful…
My life Purpose is to lead others to see that their lives’ have a higher call, that noble cause is bigger than themselves, and it is unique and God given. I also have a passion to write about this, to speak about this, to tell others about this. In this way my passion helps me achieve my Purpose.
Throughout your life your Purpose will remain constant. It is not so much about what you do as it is about who you become. You may find that you tweak the description of your Purpose as you grow older. That comes from the experience of intentionally living that Purpose. It becomes more clearly defined and certain in your mind and soul.
However, your passions will change as your grow older.
Recently I have re-kindled a passion for playing guitar. Music has always been a constant part of my life, but I have not always been an active musician. As I have grown older my life circumstances have changed as they do with all of us. So, my passion for playing music has been rekindled. I love it. I enjoy it. And I look for ways to use this passion to live my Purpose. It may be in the form of connecting with other musicians who might want to hear my message. I am also incorporating it into talks that I give on this subject.
Clues To Your Purpose
Passions are also important clues to your Purpose. In my case, I see music as a way to enlighten and bring new awareness to people. I could confuse this as my Purpose, except I have not be exceptionally gifted as a musician. Looking back, I see the circumstances of life have not been designed, or orchestrated if you will, for me to become and live as full-time musician. So, this passion has become another way I can live my Purpose, but it is not my Purpose to be a musician.
How do I discover my life’s purpose?
The answer to this question is a big part of what my site is all about.
It may be easier than you think. Your purpose is very individualized and personal. You’ve likely felt clues to this all of your life because it has been there since birth.
I pursued these answers for years. Not knowing and understanding my Purpose literally plagued me. The search consumed my daily conscious thought. In fact, trying to answer this question almost paralyzed me professionally and emotionally.
And I went about it all wrong.
My erroneous paradigm of a life Purpose was too focused in the wrong direction. I was consumed with what I was supposed to do instead of who I was supposed to be.
For instance, I started first by comparing my personal impact in life to those who had far reaching influence in the fields of ministry, politics, entertainment, etc.…. It was not that I wanted to be famous. In this paradigm, a meaningful life meant that my Purpose had to be world reaching and influencing millions. So, I began to compare everything I was involved in with this goal. If something didn’t have the potential to meet that goal then I didn’t want to spend the time with it.
Of course, almost nothing I was doing was going to meet this goal, hence the paralysis and unproductiveness.
Starting With The Right Paradigm
The first place to start in discovering your life’s purpose is to have the right perspective or paradigm. It is true that you have the potential and you may become internationally known, impacting millions worldwide, but that isn’t a life Purpose. That could become the RESULT of you living your life’s Purpose.
Secondly, get in touch with your true and inner passions. These passions are signposts to your purpose. This one post is not sufficient to explain this so you may want to consider my guide Pursue Your Passion.
Finally, list the jobs, activities, hobbies, and experiences in your life that give you the most joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. When you combine all these things you have a good framework around which your Purpose lies.
The most challenging part is that discovering your Purpose requires introspective thought and distraction free time. You can’t find it without these ingredients. These two things seem to be in short supply for most of us.
Looking at your past, the things you find great joy in doing, the things you are do well, these are all clues to your Purpose. You just have to take the time to consider all this.
If you are asking yourself these questions then let’s strap in together on this journey. I’ve walked it and still do.
If you aren’t asking these questions… standby… you will! We all do at some point in our lives. I wish I had asked and payed attention years ago. It isn’t necessary to wait, you can begin your life Purpose journey now.
The single best first step you can make is to set aside some time for the introspective thought. Don’t be surprised if your first efforts don’t yield much insight. At least not much beyond surface thoughts. Years of messages about who you should be, what you should do, and how you should live have been attacking your consciousness. It may take some time to detox from all of this so you can a crystal-clear vision.
Be persistent and don’t give up. It is worth the effort. The sooner you do it the sooner you will be living the “life abundant”.