We all yearn for it....PURPOSE. Like some special God-given name tag we want to wear proudly through-out our life that says, "My life's purpose is X". We hope that finally knowing what it is, will help us feel COMPLETE and KNOW our life's agenda. We want to feel like our life means something, that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and we have a reason for being here.
But are we really looking for purpose or are we looking for the "feeling" of being ALIVE?! Most people "looking" for purpose are people who are living what I call a "pond life".....stagnate, boring, full of stuff that smells bad and lacking the fresh water & movement needed to keep a vibrant ecosystem alive & connected. Don't worry, you're not alone, I've had my share of days and even years living smack-dab in the middle of my own pond life...pond scum and all.
Many purpose seekers think everything will be fixed when they figure out their purpose. To them it's a Mind Game.....something to be figured out in their mind. The problem with this is most of us think "purpose" will magically FIND us or pop in our head after HOURS of deliberation but really we have to go out into the world to FIND it....among all of the other humans trying to do the same thing. And the process and journey will lead you to your purpose and also help fix the rest of the stuff.
I want to FIND purpose....where do I look? Tell me, Tell me, Tell me!!!
Some find it in their work. Some find it in their family. And then there are those who find it within their whole life. Their life gives them purpose....and for them they don't FIND it, they create it.
If you find purpose only in your work or only in your family....there's a chance that things could change in those areas. And what you "receive" from them could fade or disappear. And there goes your purpose & meaning. When your kids go away to college what do you do? You lose your job or you're unable to continue your work? Then what?? You finish that dream project...then what? When you set up your fulfillment and purpose to be controlled by outside forces it's an unstable foundation because when one area goes wrong...you feel like your whole life has gone wrong...and the whole damn house comes crashing down on you. When you look "outside" of yourself for purpose, it's never permanent....and it's out of your control.
When my mom passed away unexpectedly it proved to me how true this is. More importantly it's not about what's outside of us but our purpose comes from within and it goes deeper than a calling, our work, our family or the impact we want to make.
Focus on Your WHOLE life
The happiest people I've known are people that find joy, purpose and connection from their everyday life. Not from just one area of their life but from all areas. These people embrace purpose within their WHOLE life.
They have people and experiences in their lives that bring them joy, meaning and deep connections. That could be helping people at a shelter one day, connecting with a friend the next, working on a project they love, meditating in the morning, singing while they do laundry and laughing with family during dinner. Their joy, purpose and connections ecosystem is vibrant, varied and fresh with new experiences. They feel connected, valued and a part of a meaningful ecosystem.
When you say you are looking for your purpose....do you really mean you're looking for connections, value, happiness and being a part of something bigger than yourself?
What do you do if you don't have the people and situations around you that bring you joy, value and connections? Go find them! Get out of your cocoon and jump into an adventure. Our digital world has taken us out of our REAL world. Our TRUU happiness and purpose comes from our connections with people face to face--not screen to screen. Come on people this isn't hard stuff!!!!
Some of you are saying, "Oh crap! That means I would have to leave the house and mess up my predictable schedule--and my Game of Thrones marathon?!"
Ignore the resistance of your inner party-pooper that's quick to tell you, "I don't feel like it...I'm too tired and too busy to have fun."
I know as an adult it's harder to find new people to connect with. I'm all grown up just like you, and I say GET OVER IT!!!!!! I know it's hard to meet people if we don't meet them at work, through family, our "clubs", church or our kids ....so you go and find "your people". Where do "your people" congregate? Figure it out and then go there...in real life...not online.
Here's one idea
I've found that MeetUp.com is like "the friend dating site". It's for all kinds of people who want to connect and meet new friends. Find a meet-up that seems to attract "your people" and then click I'm going! You just have to be brave enough to show up alone and feel a bit awkward but most everyone else feels it too. You have to look at it as an adventure. I remember the first time I went to one several years ago. It was one for start-ups and I was a few minutes late. I walked in and felt like the whole room was starring me down. I swore I wasn't going to speak up or talk to anyone (counter-productive I KNOW!!) ...my only goal was to just show up SHARI! I feared it was going to be18 year olds talking about APPS and platforms (the tech kind, not the shoes...) :) and I would feel out of place. However, my fear was quickly squashed. My scaredy-cat self discovered it wasn't at all like I thought. There were men, women and surprisingly all ages. I even had coffee with "one of them" afterwards and felt so proud of my brave step and realized this could be a great resource. Now I speak at many and attend several a month.
If you don't have meet ups in your area go on a hunt for pockets of people you can connect with. Or look within your own groups and circles. Are there people you connect with but just don't take the time to develop the connection? Sometimes you already have people who would love to go for coffee, go to the museum or just go on walks with you....I know it seems weird at first to ask someone on a "friend date" but that's how you build friendships...real bonds.
Human's need for a tribe and how that fulfills our purpose
Most of us don't realize that this YEARN for purpose is a first world desire. I read an amazing article in National Geographic about "uncontacted tribes" and a new book, We Are One--A Celebration of Tribal Peoples. The article takes you to another world free of Facebook, cars, electricity and even clothes (not sure I could give up clothes). But they have one thing WE all want....purpose and a deep connection with their fellow humans, their natural world and spiritual world. Their seemingly simple world and to some crude lifestyle, is really quite the opposite. After the author spent a week with an uncontacted tribe in Tanzania, he discovered their life is "free" of all of our distractions, which allows them to humbly live a simple but deep existence. They value their connections and everyday life to their core. Each person knows their value in the tribe and their important individual connection in the tribe. Their sense of family, home and belonging is at the center of their existence. Compare this to the stark contrast of our world, where petty family disagreements tear them apart and people live in neighborhoods that they avoid talking to their neighbors but instead go online to meet people in their area and have hundreds of virtual friends on Facebook. We have magazines telling you how to live more SIMPLE and over 20 million people struggling with loneliness. Who is living the backwards life, really?
Your purpose isn't about finding anything.
Your purpose isn't wrapped around a "thing", or "place", or "accomplishment", or "title", or "job" or even a "person". It's how you live and purposefully design your life. Your purpose shouldn't be an end point. Your purpose is how you live your WHOLE life, not just one part. If you're trying to create your joy, happiness and connections but can't find them....go out into the real world and start exploring, start living, start talking to others. Expect to do it wrong and awkwardly. Expect to not know what you're doing and where you're going. Be brave to take the journey alone but know everyone else is on that same journey....it may seem they've got it all figured out but my bet is they don't. We're all pretty good at faking our "I totally have this" look.
Sitting, thinking, waiting, preparing, planning and observing won't take you to your purpose...only stumbling, walking, jumping, creeping, running, falling and DOING takes you there. It may not look perfect but DOING it with bad form is better than waiting.
Go DO your purpose & DO your life instead of trying to find it.