Everywhere I looked, they all said the same thing: “Find your purpose!“
Once you find it, all your problems will magically evaporate into dust… So, being the ambitious gentleman that I am, I immediately began looking for it. I mean, once I found this golden nugget, then life would be great!
Well, little did I know the journey I was going to embark on…
Why Looking for Your Purpose Is Crushing You (and What to Do About It)
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
– Steve Jobs (more quotes)
Years of struggle
Eight days into my ten-day meditation retreat, I was not only emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausted, but now I was pissed off.
The clarity I was experiencing was unreal: being able to go on walks and think about a single topic for thirty minutes; directing my attention and focus at will…
I had been staring at my journal for two hours now, writing sentence after sentence. Maybe you’ve heard of this exercise before. You write, “My purpose is…” and you fill in the blank until you cry.
Two hours later, my hand was cramping in places I didn’t know existed. And guess the best part… not a single tear.
What the hell was going on?
The more traditional self-help I read, the more anxious I became. Everyone seemed to have his or her ‘purpose,’ and here I was, alone, searching, seeking.
Why does my purpose hide from me? Am I not meant to be happy, fulfilled?
I don’t want to bore you, but after many seminars, workshops, more journaling, coaching and hours upon hours of meditation… still, nada, nothing, zilch.
I had not found my purpose.
The truth stings
When working with my clients, this is by far my favorite moment. The moment when the insight, this absolute truth, lands and their mouth slowly opens in understanding. When there are still no words yet to describe what’s happening under the surface.
Sometimes this type of truth has them immediately start laughing without a clue why. Sometimes this type of truth has them cry in agony and joy. Sometimes this truth has them stay silent for minutes at a time as it digests in their system.
After years of looking for my purpose, I was hit with all of the above. The thought that changed everything: Could it be possible that my purpose has already been guiding me my entire life?
The shift we must make
We must make a shift — away from living from the outside in, and to instead live from the inside out.
For years, I looked for my purpose thinking it was outside of myself and that I must find it. It’s a ludicrous idea, if you really sit down and think about it. Many humans on this earth do it too though, always looking for happiness outside of themselves.
Maybe this promotion, or perhaps this amount of money, or maybe I just need to find the perfect partner, and THEN I will be happy.
Start living from the inside out, not the outside in.
Stop looking for your purpose and start living with purpose.
My radical invitation to you
Here is a question for you to consider:
What does living with purpose look like for you?
How about living mindfully, with a sense of intention and clarity about what you want and are going after?
Simplify your life, and do more of what you love. Make the small choices today in congruence with how you want your life to look. Feel inspired? Immediately take action. Sit still. Notice what makes you feel more alive, and do more of it!
Have faith that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
And trust that your purpose is already inside of you, guiding you forward.