This is a big misunderstanding about life purpose… whenever I talk with people about purpose, they feel like it’s one thing they have to figure out. But it’s not…
Your life purpose is constantly changing. As you learn more about yourself and the world around you, you naturally beginning feeling, reacting, thinking, and acting differently. And you gain feedback about what really matters to you and what being human is all about.
Purpose isn’t one thing. Purpose is simply the focused direction you’re heading in at one point in time. Your life purpose will change so much over time as you continue to explore yourself and whats around you. So, how do you have purpose while allowing it to change? Let’s explore:
Stop Following Your Life Purpose When This Happens
Trying to find meaning in direction in life is one of the most overwhelming tasks you can take on. Especially when it feels like it’s this one thing that you’ll either get right or wrong.
Like God or some Source chose exactly what you’re supposed to do, and if you can’t find it… well, good luck.
You will always feel anxious when you’re more attached to finding what you believe your life purpose is than living a fulfilled life.
If you’re more attached to the idea of purpose than to living it out, you might need to relax your grip…
Think of it like this:
You’re always growing emotionally. When you were younger, trivial events made it feel like the world was falling apart. But as you began to understand more about people and your environment, your response to little things wasn’t as significant.
And you developed without even thinking about it! (Unless you were the most enlightened 7 year old on the earth)
As we’re growing and developing, we have to allow ourselves to change without constantly defining our personality and emotions into boxes.
How Aging Affects Life Purpose
Age is one of the strongest factors in how life purpose changes.
Ask people 15-25 and they’re most likely to want to work for a non-profit and see drastic social change.
People ages 25-40 might be more focused on growing and cherishing family and developed relationships.
And as people continue to age, we see ideas of legacy and strong values take the spotlight.
As we gain experience and major life events happen, we gain new perspective about what matters to us. The events around us act as a catalyst for new ways of explore ourselves and the world around us.
The main struggle is that, often, major life milestone change cause our internal purpose to fade. We might become so focused on creating a family that we lose sight of our initial purpose.
Which is perfectly ok, as long as we don’t wander for too long…
You are more than a facilitator of the life events around you. You have the capacity to bring vibrance and creativity into everything you touch.
So, your life purpose isn’t just about being a parent, or spouse. Sure, it’s a role you wear, but the way you can specifically touch the lives of people around you is so much deeper.
Transitioning Versus Stationary Life Purpose
I believe the villain of exploring life purpose is this idea of “the one thing you have to figure out in life”.
It’s what we might call Stationary Life Purpose. A static phrase that just lists something you do rather than someone you’re becoming.
e.g. My life purpose is to be a good mother
Stationary Life Purpose becomes a target that we have to hit, and when we miss, it only brings on shame and disappointment.
Transitioning Life Purpose is all about momentum and growth in your personality.
And it might be loose or specific. Here are some examples:
Loose Transitioning Life Purpose:
- growing in vulnerability
- learning to value people even when they don’t benefit me
- being present with myself
Specific Transitioning Life Purpose:
- creating tangible spaces for people to explore their spirituality
- opening conversations where people can feel safe to explore their thoughts
- developing ways for others to explore their purpose and motivations
Both types of Transitioning Life Purpose are great! And they’ll change and move like seasoning in your life.
You might not have a specific idea in mind of where you’re headed in life. And that’s perfectly fine.
Right now, I’m in a season of consistency and discipline. I don’t have a specific thing I’m striving for from a purpose standpoint. But I know the theme for how I spend my time and energy is about discipline, and that’s enough to find direction. To start moving.
Purpose Is Simply You Moving In A Focused Direction
Life purpose doesn’t have to feel more lofty than it is.
Whether you’re exploring purpose over a period of a year, or just considering it for a few moments, you’ll find significant value either way.
Purpose is simply pointing our energy and focus into a defined direction we see value in. And then allowing it to shift as needed.
A big struggle with purpose is that it either feels to ambiguous or too specific. e.g. “my purpose is to help people” or “my purpose is to build a food bank”.
Both are great goals. But one can’t support any energy behind it, and the other will either be accomplished or it won’t… but either way will leave a feeling of discontentment because static goals, no matter how great, don’t provide lasting fulfillment.
With life purpose, all we’re looking to do is find something with enough life for us to put our energy behind and allow it to change the world around us however it may.
For example, I talked about discipline for me. I’ve set up a few specific things I my life that I’m doing to see personal growth in discipline.
And my job is to show up, put in energy, and then allow the results… whatever they are. That’s why I woke up at 5am to write this. Who knows if it will resonate with anyone, but that’s not the goal.
The goal is to develop the practice of:
- Exploring ourselves enough to get an idea of how we want to grow and the change we want to be a part of and
- Finding ways to use our energy that contribute towards that internal and external growth
So, don’t spend too much time focusing on if you “found it”. Or if you life purpose is “right”.
Find something that causes energy to swell up inside you, and start to move in that direction.
You’ll gain feedback along the way that will help you channel and align your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions with what’s going to stick!
2 Words To Guarantee You’re On Track
I love when people ask me, “so, what’s your life purpose?”.
Like I figured it out, surprise…
I have no idea.
But what I love about the question is that it allows me to start with the phrase:
right now, I believe my purpose is to
Why is the phrase “right now” so powerful? Because is the verbal affirmation to ourselves that we’re not supposed to have it figured out.
That I’m allowed to go through multiple seasons of discovery and unrest and to still not arrive at one thing that is my purpose.
It confirms how flexible our energy is. And that whatever we pursue can be flipped and changed.
Because I’m so much more dynamic than one thing. And you are too.
The way we use our words sets the stage for what we believe is possible in our life. Starting with “right now” invites freedom into where you’re moving.
If you’re wanting to explore starting a business, go for it! You can’t discount the dream without exploration.
But it can feel weighty when talking to other people about the goals we have because we trap ourselves in with the language we use.
You don’t have to default to definite statements about what you’re pursuing:
“Right now, I’m exploring this… and it gives me energy and helps me feel fulfilled.”
Try it out! Take a moment to quietly observe the ways you’ve been moving and using your energy. Do you notice a pattern?
If so, is it something you (and we) could benefit from if you invested a little bit more in that right now?
Can you have more than one purpose in life? Having multiple purposes is one of the best ways to be effective in several areas of your life. Often, it’s beneficial to have a general “life purpose” and then several other purpose statements for various sections of your life (e.g. work, family, friends, hobbies)
What does common sense of purpose mean? A common sense of purpose is the direction a community or culture is moving in. Strong, effective leadership helps communities find a clear and actionable sense of common purpose.