What is Purpose? How do I find mine? These are two primary questions that I hear from my clients, my friends, and others around me. The questions can be daunting to some, and to others maybe a bit to esoteric to attempt a response. Over the course of many years, various teachers, my own seeking and experiences, I have come to know Purpose as an invitation that has been with me all along, waiting for me to take my eyes off the smaller story of my life and to turn inward towards a larger story longing to be opened. Below are 3 key insights on the path to Purpose.
Purpose is an inner call, not an outer search. We can begin to put context around what our purpose is through inquiry, observation, and a deep listening to the only voice that can speak the story of your purpose, the quiet voice that lies within. In many ways we have lived our purpose within the setting of our existing lives, and in other ways we have played out roles due to expectation, obligation, or fitting in. Playing out roles in this way keeps us from our true nature, our true purpose.
Practice: To cultivate the wise voice within, you must get quiet and distinguish between what is yours and what is others. You may even ask yourself at various points, “Am I pursuing X, because I truly feel connected to it, or am I acting out of other’s expectations or a sense of obligation?”
Purpose is something to live into, not achieve. Our purpose is a bigger vision, one that often seems unattainable, yet so deeply connected to who we are that we can’t help but move towards it. When we live into our purpose we must be willing to do the work knowing that it is possible we may never see the benefits of our efforts.
Practice: You can begin to discern purpose from your ego’s desire to achieve through one question. Would you still move towards the vision even if you never see the benefits of your effort? Would you still pour your heart and soul into the cause, because you know that it is vital to something larger than yourself? Would you?
Purpose is possible in moments, not always grand ones. We look up to legends like Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, or Gandhi. We even look out at visionaries who are tackling some of world’s toughest challenges, like poverty, the environment, or our changing climate. In this way, it seems like our vision of purpose must be grand in order for it to be of value. This is not true. If your purpose is to mend our environment, you may have a grander plan, but before that plan is enacted, you have the opportunity to moment-by-moment act with purpose. For example, simply tending to the environment you live in, ensuring it is free of litter, or educating the neighborhood on how to care for the natural world, is acting with purpose.
Practice: Begin to capture your purpose moments, with a few words, a picture, a color, or a feeling. Purpose moments are the times in life when you are struck with a feeling of incredible aliveness. You can feel the tingling of your skin, the racing of your heart, the pull to act in a way that contributes to something greater, the deep connection with fellow humans or the earth and it’s creatures, the unrelenting love and passion that rises from within you. This is the feeling of a purpose moment. As you begin to capture your purpose moments, you may start to see a larger picture unfold, like pieces of an unknown puzzle, you will see the themes and threads of purpose emerge.
Through these 3 key insights on the path to Purpose, the hope is that we all begin to see that our lives have meaning, regardless of if we are clear about our Purpose or not, it is there and being lived into. What we look to provide at Imperative is a more structured and supported way to reveal your Purpose, and to help you craft the landscape of Purpose to explore and test.