What is purpose? Is it what you are meant to do for a job? Is it who you are meant to be on this earth? What is it really that we are looking for when we say we want to know what our purpose is in life? Moreover, why are so many of us even asking that question?
I believe that most of us already inherently know that there is more to this world than meets the eye, even if we don't always admit to it. We go about our day-to-day feeling like it is our only reality when, in fact, there is so much more to our lives than what we see. People have been wondering about their origins since the dawn of civilization asking questions like, "Why am I here?" and "What is the meaning of life?" So it seems like asking the question about our purpose is, in fact, embedded into our DNA. So then, if we are asking these types of questions because it is natural for us to do so, where, then, can we look to find the answers? Perhaps we simply need to look deeper within ourselves.
Being intuitive and empathic, as well as philosophical at heart is my nature. So you would think that I would have paid closer attention to these qualities in order to see how they factored into my purpose in life. I mean, ever since I can remember I have been theorizing about life, interpersonal relationships, and the wonders of the universe, as well as the human psyche. But, although I have been this way all of my life, surprisingly it was not always clear to me what I was meant to do with it, if anything at all.
Like most people I had struggled to "find" my purpose in life, not only as it related to my career but also to my life in general. I earned degree after degree, read book after book, took course after course, and tried out a number of vocations, but still I couldn't quite figure out what I was meant to do. Furthermore, I was attracting the same patterns over and over again in my life and I was simply tired of getting what seemed like nowhere fast. To complicate things further, I had pushed my intuition to the side in favor of second-guessing myself, which only led me to further confusion.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, it is to illustrate one main point: Your purpose is not eluding you. And like it was for me, your purpose has probably been right in front of you all along. You see, so many of us think that our purpose is some mysterious treasure we must struggle and work hard to find. We think it is some grand plan or mission we must hurry to uncover or else risk living our lives in mediocrity. But while our purpose can indeed be a huge revelation in our lives, we must also realize that purpose is not something we need to find but rather who we are already, and what we ultimately love and enjoy. Every aspect of our lives has purpose, from our vocation to our relationships to our experiences and, as such, it can not be limited to only one thing or one definition.
Some say that purpose has everything to do with our vocation. Others say that a job is a just a job and that purpose is more about simply enjoying our lives while contributing in some positive way to the whole. I say that purpose is in everything we do, including, but not limited to, our jobs. If we look at purpose as defined by what we do for work, sometimes we might feel like we are not doing something important enough. This is because there is a misconception that one's purpose must be something extraordinary and grand. But, in reality, anything any of us do is just as important as anything else.
No matter what we do for work (or in general), if it contributes in some way to the betterment, enrichment, or enhancement of other people's lives, then whatever it is, it is purposeful. The key to consider, then, is not so much what we do but rather how much value it provides to others. Purpose to me in a nutshell means realizing what you love, doing what you love, and then making other people's lives better in some way in the process (directly or indirectly).
Each of us has a passion within us to do something that feeds our sense of creativity, but not everyone feels like they are fulfilling that passion through their job. But what if for a moment we considered purpose as more of an essence than a specifically defined role? For instance, if you can figure out the essence of what your soul wants to express, then no matter what your job you will be able to incorporate that essence into it (or find a better fit). For example, say you are a customer service representative. To you this job might seem fine as a way to make some extra money, but it may not ultimately inspire you. But what if the essence of your purpose has to do with being a good communicator, mediator, and educator? If that's the case all of the sudden your job becomes one catalyst to fulfilling your purpose. Now, that doesn't mean you can't change your job if you want to. It just means that you can figure out different ways to express the essence of your purpose so that you feel passionate about whatever it is that you are doing in the moment. It's simply a matter of changing your perspective (which, by the way, will get you more aligned with the most fulfilling way for you to express your purpose).
Sometimes people feel unfulfilled in their jobs, sure, but that's often because they don't realize the value they are providing to others. Sometimes people feel unfulfilled by their job because they didn't really choose it consciously, i.e. perhaps it's a job they were told they should do or the only job they believed they could get. The point here is, every job is important, but every person who wants to would be best served to eventually find a job (or change their perspective on the job they already have) that resonates with the essence of who they are and what they came here to do.
Society loves to segregate and classify some jobs as more important or more prestigious than others, and usually that has to do with money, status, or on the other end of it, extreme sacrifice and piety. But in order for a society to function there needs to be people that do all sorts of jobs. The important task for each of us, then, is to figure out how the essence of our purpose fits into and can be expressed through our work in a way that provides value to others and fulfillment for ourselves.
Often times people are already doing what they came here to do (in one way or another) but they feel that others have more glamorous or exciting jobs, so they think theirs is not as valuable. But all it takes in these instances is a change of perspective and an awareness of the essence of their own purpose. All it takes is a realization of what they really want versus what they think they want based on what others have.
Some people might justifiably question what they are doing once they figure out that the essence of their purpose is not aligned with their current position. If this is the case, fulfillment through work can only truly come when a person becomes aware of the contribution they are making through the essence of who they are, what they are good at, and what they want to express. Then it will be possible to make a change that makes both common and spiritual sense. When you give yourself permission to follow your purpose, the universe will show you the way.
Fulfillment comes from realizing the essence of who you are and understanding that this can be represented and expressed in a variety of ways. And the thing about purpose is that it can evolve with your dreams and aspirations. The essence of your purpose could be to educate, to inspire, to build something, to bring people together, to entertain, etc. But how you choose to express that essence is totally up to you and only limited by your imagination.
But purpose moves beyond our career, which is why it is so important to recognize the essence of who we are and what we want in life in general. Every area of our lives comes down to the purpose or intention behind whatever we choose to express and do. And so, whether we are addressing our relationships, desires, hobbies, or our larger role in our communities, purpose is always the common thread running through it all.
Subsequently, when we think of defining purpose we often neglect to think about who we are on a soul level. We first focus on what we are here to do, i.e., the physical manifestations and all the benefits that come with that (like fulfillment, success, wealth, etc.). But, unfortunately, too often we stop there. However, who we are on a soul level is what our purpose is truly all about. Who we are on a soul level permeates into every aspect of our lives and that is what navigates our life story and everything we choose to experience within it.
Think of it this way: It is no coincidence why you are who you are, why you are where you are, and why you experience the things that you do. When people struggle and feel unfulfilled, most of the time it is because they are fundamentally ignoring who they are and what they want on a soul level. And so, because they are focusing on a very narrow search for purpose, they miss it altogether.
Don't get me wrong, "finding" or rather realizing one's purpose is greatly satisfying. However, what is more satisfying is figuring out how that purpose relates to every aspect of your life and how you choose to live it. For example, I know that I love to write (and always have), I love to inspire, and I love to help people find their own truths. One might say that my purpose in life is to be a self-empowerment author and life coach. But how does that purpose relate to the rest of my life? How is that purpose a reflection of who I am on a soul level? And, how does that translate into the person I already am?
For me on a soul level I am a communicator of truth. This to me means communicating with others in a loving and honest way to create harmony in all of my relationships and encounters. It also means helping others empathize with each other and get along. But being a natural communicator to me continues to mean something even deeper, which is the ability to communicate with my higher-self and download, if you will, vital knowledge and insights to help both myself and others live as authentically as we possibly can. By nature I am a peace-maker: diplomatic, compassionate, and fair. I am also very detail-oriented, perceptive, giving, and big on living my life with integrity. So as you can see, there is the surface manifestation of my purpose (my career choice) but that comes from a deeper soulful place (the fundamental core of who I am as a person and how I choose to express that in every aspect of my life). As such, the essence of my purpose runs through every aspect of who I am and what I do (and the choices I make). And the beauty of it is, it all comes naturally to me and so I didn't have to look very hard to find it after all.
Unfortunately we often think we need to work hard to achieve our personal success in life. And sure, while some effort and inspired action is certainly required (including the inner self-work needed to release our fears and doubts), living a life on and with purpose is actually much easier and more enjoyable than we might think. How? Well, when we cease to deny our natural gifts and abilities we naturally rise up to meet our potential. We think that our purpose is some complex equation that needs years of digging to uncover, but the only reason that appears to be true is simply because we choose to ignore what is easy. Our society shames those who seem to have things fall into their laps; it deems them spoiled and unworthy of achievement. But why is that? Why do we believe that everything good needs to be so hard to come by? What if instead we believed that we are already deserving of greatness and that all we need to do to receive it is to be willing to accept it?
Furthermore, we often believe that our pursuit of purpose must be completely altruistic and, as such, cannot also include the pursuit of pleasurable things. We believe that in order for purpose to be pure it must be completely devoid of any physical or material reward or enjoyment. But this is not true either. Material/physical sustenance is not necessarily separate from a life of purpose. In fact, in order for us to fulfill our purpose we must materialize it through enjoyment because otherwise it would just be called a grind. But our purpose is not a life sentence, nor is it an obligation. In fact, it is the prime motivating factor behind everything we want to experience in life, i.e., our authentic desires, passions, and enjoyments....all of these are derived directly from our purpose. And so, when we fully and freely accept and express the totality of who we are at our core, and what we authentically love and enjoy, that is when purpose will finally make total sense to us. And as a bonus, when we feel fulfilled in our own lives we become so much more helpful and inspirational to all those around us.
For me, aside from my purpose as it relates to my work, I also love art and culture, healthy gourmet food, retreats, luxury, nature, travel, relaxation, reading, learning, and a whole bunch of other things that feed my soul. And I notice that when I feel free to express these interests I am more full of energy and inspiration to share with others. As such, the point I am trying to make here is that "indulging" in our most authentically motivated desires and enjoyments is part of what we are here to do as well. It is not selfish or shallow but instead necessary to our overall fulfillment. To feel deprived or, even more specifically, to deprive ourselves of the experiences that make us excited and inspired about life is like cutting off the vital energy we need to do what we came here to do. And so, if we are to express and fulfill our purpose (in any regard) we must realize that we need to enjoy all that life has to offer us so that we not only honor our own divine origins but also share what we have with the world.
We are here for a reason. And by "here" I mean here in this physical time/space reality. As such, our purpose is intertwined with everything we do and everything we accomplish. There is no reason to go through life struggling just so that we can earn our right to do what we love. Instead, we can do what we love and be who we want to be now, ultimately expressing our purpose through giving ourselves permission to do so.
But there are those who do struggle in life who might ask themselves, "What's the purpose in that?" So could it be that there is actual purpose behind our fears, doubts, and disappointments in life too? Is there a higher power directing everything we experience in life or do we actually have some say in the matter?
Living a life of purpose means understanding that while you may have a "destiny" (i.e. your natural aptitudes, goals, intentions for your life), you also have free will. Living a purpose-filled life does not mean resigning your power to something or someone else but rather being a co-creator in your own life. Your purpose and your vision for your ultimate life experience are one in the same. It is only when you deny your self-expression and you ignore your calling that struggle seems so apparent. Living a purpose-filled life means recognizing your power within, looking deeper at your motivations, and using your free will to make positive changes and choices that support your most authentic desires.
For me, having experienced anxiety in my life, I often wondered, "What could possibly be the purpose in that?" But now looking back, were it not for the anxiety I had experienced I might not have uncovered the full extent of my natural skills and capabilities. It was almost like I was forced to look deeper within so that my true purpose could finally shine. And when it did that's when my anxiety began to dissipate.
We are here to enjoy our lives. We are here to express the fullest extent of our capabilities. We are here to manifest our most authentic desires. We are here to thrive and share our successes with others. But we are NOT here to ultimately suffer, struggle, or chase after some proverbial carrot that we want but can never have. This world is a playground, not a prison, and so the more we give ourselves permission to play, the clearer our purpose will become. Ultimate pleasure and fulfillment is not superficial by definition. But thinking that it is is denying ourselves the reason we exist.
Keep in mind that purpose is not synonymous with ego, and so it is our responsibility to figure out our motivations so that we can truly live a life full of freedom and joy. Consequently, when we are aligned with our purpose we can immediately understand our soul's true calling and desires versus the whims of our ego. Then we will not need to waste time on frivolous pursuits and subsequent disappointments.
The "way" is not hard to find when you are aligned with who you really are. I chose to ignore my "way" thinking that what I already knew was not good enough. I thought my answers had to be more complex in order to be true. I denied my natural talents and abilities thinking it just couldn't be that easy and that I had to work hard to earn my gifts (even though they were already there and waiting for me to use them). But, in truth, all I needed to do was accept myself completely and know that I already deserved to enjoy my life. What I learned is that true success is not about struggling to achieve it but rather learning to embrace and maximize what you have already been given. That is the true meaning of purpose.
THE PATH TO/OF PURPOSE:
Finding it (or rather acknowledging your personal code or key to overall fulfillment)
Finding meaning within it
Embracing it (i.e. acceptance)
Connecting with it (i.e. believing in your power)
Expressing it (i.e. being open about it)
Clearing what's in the way of it (i.e. fears, doubts, negative beliefs)
Generalizing it (i.e. enjoying the infinite abundance and beauty of life)
Specializing it (i.e. embodying personal passions, gifts, and the uniqueness of your expression)
Aligning with it (i.e. mind, body, and soul alignment with your authentic desires)
Nurturing it (i.e. believing in your worthiness of it and in the path of least resistance to achieve it)
Defining (or rather applying) it in all aspects of your life
Individualizing it (i.e. what is your specific role?)
Sharing it (i.e. what is your collective role?)
Manifesting it (i.e. taking inspired action towards its expression)
Utilizing it (i.e. putting it into practice)
Granting self-permission for it (i.e. for self-care, self-love, and the freedom of self-expression)