Ever wondered what your purpose is, or are you wondering that now?
Welcome to the club, pal.
I've worked with tons of people over the years - and I've never met someone that hasn't pondered this very subject multiple times.
And in case you're wondering, a fulfilling life is NOT possible without clarity on your purpose.
In fact, I would argue this is one of the most common threads amongst depression and anxiety; two major problems in society today.
This is because living without a clear purpose is like being lost in the woods without a compass (or cell phone).
It's stressful, yields anxiety, and if left to fester, kills hope.
This serves as a breeding ground for inaction, and consequently, a lack of results, which fuels a lack of fulfillment. See how this vicious cycle works?
And to make matters worse, the very idea of "purpose" has been distorted in today's society.
You see, many people equate their purpose with their vocation; so if you ask them "What is your purpose?" they might reply "Well, I'm a Doctor " or "Well, I'm a banker."
Vocation is only a small fraction of your purpose.
You have to go much deeper than that.
Additionally, you have gurus saying things like "go find your purpose" or "your purpose will find you". Well, I disagree with both of these assertions, and feel that they only make the matter more convoluted.
I believe that even before you were born, you already had a purpose mapped-out for you, and at the rudimentary level, we all share at least common purpose. You only need to tap into your common sense to become cognizant of it.
Let's do a little exercise to get more clarity on this ambiguous while overwhelming purpose topic! : )
Exercise: Purpose Discovery
First, how does this statement rest with you?
At a rudimentary level, we all share this purpose in common; to experience life.
If that statement irks you, and you claim (notice how I didn't say believe) that life has no purpose; all I'm going to say for now is; seek help soon. Further discussion about that perspective is best done outside of a blog post. But, even if you do feel that way, I still encourage you to keep reading...
Assuming we can agree that we share the rudimentary purpose of experiencing life, we can now start to build on that with even more clarity.
Here's a sample of the process I use with clients:
Select one of each line: Is it better to live a life that is:
(a) fulfilling or (b) unfulfilling, and;
(a) synergistic or (b) selfish, and;
(a) courageous or (b) fearful, and;
(a) accountable or (b) shirking, and;
(a) resilient or (b) surrendering
These questions have pretty obvious choices, but there will still be some that will choose the less ideal answers.
So imagine for a second you are starting at ground zero from a purpose standpoint. How does this core life purpose standpoint resonate with you?
To live a fulfilling life that is synergistic with others, driven by courage, for which I'm taking personal accountability for my decisions and their consequences (good or bad), and resilient to setbacks when they inevitably occur.
Not bad, right? : )
From here we can start doing skills inventories, vision exercises, goal setting, roles and responsibilities, and the list goes on.
Purpose is overwhelming, unless it's broken-down into a series of layers, starting with the innermost layer; kind of like an onion.
Purpose is innate.
It isn't obtained, nor delivered, nor bought, nor found in a specific job.
You already had a purpose before you were even born. You have a purpose now - and you will always have a purpose in your life experience.
You just need to become cognizant of your purpose, clarify it using techniques like what I shared, and then act on your purpose for a fulfilled life.
J. Patrick Nichols