Living with Purpose – How Do I Start?
A little while ago, I participated in an online discussion on LinkedIn that started off something like, ‘It is more important to live with Passion than with Purpose. Discuss.’
While many were adamant that it was more important to live with passion, to me ,it felt that Passion is what follows when Purpose is achieved. That said, finding Purpose in life is potentially one of the most challenging things to do.
Growing up, we have so often been geared up to define life and achievements by means of external success (the academic achievements, the material gains), very little thought is given to life’s purpose. We internalise other people’s ambitions for us as our life’s purpose, until one day, when we are stuck in a miserable work situation, even when it is financially lucrative, it feels as if everything is not right and then perhaps the realisation hits that ‘it was never what I really wanted to do’.
Often, by the time this realisation hits, it feels as if we’ve been on the treadmill far too long and getting off seems really really scary. Many people simply put up with it and tell themselves, ‘just until retirement’, ‘I need the money and security’, ‘my family is relying on me’. And so they hang on. Hoping that when they retire, they will then be able to pursue their passions and purpose. Between that realisation and when the time arrives that purpose and passion may be pursued, life often then throws up a whole new range of challenges – health problems, other family demands and the list goes on.
So is that the only way to and through life?
While for the vast majority of people it does really seem like the only option, there are a growing number of people who have made a conscious decision to jump off hamster wheel and make a change to their life and lifestyle, with differing approaches and varying results depending on how they define their own purpose and passion.
There are also occasions in which we are forced to take that leap of faith, and reexamine our lives, great life events often do that – getting laid off, losing a loved one.
Making the decision to change one’s life is an amazing step forward, and sometimes we may have plans waiting to be worked on. However, more often than not, the sudden change throws us significantly.
Do you remember what it was like spinning round and round as a child and then when we finally stopped, the whole world continued to spin for a while. Stepping off a familiar path is a lot like that, and while we are in this flux or limbo, it can become really challenging to find meaning in our lives and to live with purpose.
So how do we even begin to find our purpose in life?
This morning I sat down in my usual morning half lotus waiting for Deepak Chopra to share his wisdom through his Abundance Meditations series, the deep sonorous voice that came through my ear plugs said,
“There is a way I can fulfil my true Purpose in Life”
Coincidentally just a couple of minutes before, I read a Chapter from Dawna Markova’s excellent book I will not die an unlived life – reclaiming purpose and passion, and this chapter very clearly said ‘Your purpose finds you’
So while all of this information ruminates with me, the clear messages are
Trust and learning to let go, are lessons that I realise I too need to learn. Being of the typical type-A, overachieving personality, this is a difficult one for me, but I am slowly moving forward on this.
Letting go of trying to control outcomes. Doing as much as I possibly can and then letting go and trusting that the process will take us there.
Asking: How can I help? How can I serve?
The message that has been coming through over and over again is not so much how and what we can achieve in our life, to fulfil our own desires but ultimately How can I help and How can I serve, for the greater good of all?
What I also realise is that, this does not have to be in any grandiose, audacious way of performing huge gestures or giving away tons of money. Every little act of service, of kindness, as simple as a heartfelt smile or a gracious thought helps in ways unimaginable.
Accept and Revel in Your Life Right Now
Perhaps where you are in your life right now, may not be at all where you want to be but cannot quite see a way forward. This does not mean that you have done it wrong. It simply means that the time has not yet arrived.
I’ve been learning that, in times like these, while it may seem to go against the grain, it’s helpful to let go for a while and simply ‘be’. ‘Go with the flow’ as the saying goes.
Accept where you are and for the moment simply live.
And when the time is right, listen to the messages from your heart.
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Take care and be happy.
If you have some other ideas or thoughts about finding your life’s purpose, or perhaps you’d like to share your story, please do leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you.
September 28, 2013 @ 11:50 pm
Great question you started off this post with Li-ling based on the linkedin question. I’m not sure what my answer would be. I think I agree with you in that passion is what pursued after you’ve found your purpose. But I also think that you’ll get clues about your purpose when you find activities which you are passionate about. This sounds like a chicken and the egg question:)
Trust and serving, as you mention are both important. One has to trust the process to their purpose. So often I felt like I needed an answer but I’ve since realized that the journey towards my purpose is my purpose! The ultimate purpose isn’t as important as the growth, insights and reflections on the way there. I’m now more open to my purpose changing and even going in a different direction.
Serving is also an important question. Lessons learned when serving others has brought me closer to the purpose.
Finally, I think patience and allowing our lives to reveal our purpose to us is needed. As you say, accept and revel in our lives right now. Letting go and simply being. I don’t need to know my purpose – I can just keep moving forward listening to my heart, my intuition and continuing to serve. The path to my purpose has gotten all the more clearer over the last few months/last couple years. I’m grateful for the journey that I’ve taken to get there as well.
September 29, 2013 @ 8:03 pm
Vishnu, as always your comments and observations are so valuable. In the first instance, it does seem like a chicken and egg question, but thinking it through a bit more, I like to believe that each individual’s answer probably has more to do with ‘where’ they are in life when this question is posed. Presumably, someone with a strong sense of purpose would veer towards the passion, whereas, a soul searching for purpose would probably think that, that is most important.
There is a lot to be said for accepting the journey as the purpose, there’s a lot of letting go in being able to do that – Wow!
I love the idea that we are here to not just live with purpose, but to enjoy and revel as you say in the journey. One more thing that struck me, which I am now inspired to write about, is how important and amazing it is to be able to ‘choose again’.
Thank you for sharing Vishnu.
Piece of Art
October 1, 2013 @ 2:54 pm
Great thoughts, so many are conditioned to regular routines, and influences of a programmed “reality”- way of living.. they hardly get to truly live.. that hamster wheel is indeed crowded.. and that was a deep coincidence you have.. higher power connecting.. thanks and i will today set a focus of Purpose.. and Passion ( nice website by the way )
October 2, 2013 @ 2:55 pm
Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts! It was indeed a very deep life experience that caused us to re-evaluate our lives. I’m so happy to hear that it touched and helped you today. Much love and blessings your way…
How to Find Joy in Work | Be Happy HQ
January 18, 2014 @ 12:54 pm
[…] So many of us have built this system of punishment in our own heads that we can play only after we suffer the work and yet that way of living is so wrong and leads to so much unhappiness. (Read more about Living with Purpose) […]