“I believe a purpose is something for which one is responsible; it's not just divinely assigned.” ~Michael J. Fox
Do you know what you're doing with your life?
Do you have any sense of passion or purpose for how you are living now and where you're going in the future?
Sometimes it feels we are merely passengers on the bus to nowhere. We hop on early in our adult lives and then allow the bus to determine our direction in life. At times the destination is OK, but too often it's not. It's boring and uninspired with the same landscapes passing us every day. There is no purpose in life.
So often this happens because we are unconscious. We don't know we have a choice or don't believe we have the power to jump in the driver's seat and change directions. Sometimes we may have an inkling it's possible to direct our lives, but we're too afraid. We don't know what to do, where to go, or how to begin. So we just sit still and let the bus drive us.
You can't change the direction of your life if you aren't in the driver's seat. And once you're there, you must feel confident you know where you want to go and why.
In fact, the “why” of our lives is the force that inspires us, the internal motivator that creates energy and enthusiasm. The “why” is the foundation for living your best life. It should reflect your purpose for all areas of your life.
If you can't answer the question “Why?” related to all of your life choices, then you're either asleep at the wheel or languishing in the back of the bus.
Or if the answer suggests you didn't proactively make the decision, you might as well have no answer at all. Without a solid answer to the “whys,” you don't have a sense of purpose in life, and therefore one or more parts of your life feels empty and meaningless.
Ponder these questions for a moment:
- Why did you choose your career?
- Why do you live where you're living?
- Why do you spend time with the people you hang around?
- Why are you married to that particular person?
- Why do you spend your free time the way you do?
- Why do you spend money on those things?
- Why do you make the health, exercise, and lifestyle choices you make?
If you have no answers to these questions, or if your answers suggest you acted unconsciously, there's no better time than right now to define your optimal life purpose for these areas and begin to work toward recreating your life to match your purpose. This work is essential to your personal growth.
I know, I know — what the hell does it mean to “define your optimal life purpose?” It sounds like self-help psychobabble. But bear with me please. There is meat behind this directive.
The answers to these “why” questions should reflect a solid and deeply-considered reason, grounded in your values, your innate personality, your sense of self, your hopes and dreams, your integrity, and the legacy you want to leave the world.
Why is this so important? Because a solid and deeply-considered reason (an optimal purpose) for your major life choices will foster a happy, fulfilling, and passionate life.
A life without purpose is directionless and floundering. A life with purpose is focused and meaningful.
So how to begin? Let's start with the area of your life where you feel the least purposeful — where your answer to the question made you cringe or you didn't have an answer at all. For many people, their career is the low-hanging fruit that needs the first infusion of purpose.
To help you determine your purpose, your reason for choosing a career, think about these questions:
- What important personal values would you like your career to reflect or support?
- What are the aptitudes and skills you enjoy that you'd like to express or utilize in your career?
- What parts of your true self and your personality need to be nurtured in your career?
- What is absolutely essential in any career or job to align with your integrity or ethics?
- What dreams have you fostered over the years that you'd like to see as part of your career?
- What mark do you want to make on the world, your community, or your business through your work?
- Whose work currently inspires you? Who would you like to emulate?
- What do you think might be your career passion if you had the chance to pursue it?
You can ask yourself similar questions for other areas of your life. For example, you can define the reason for your most important relationships by asking these questions:
- Does my relationship with this person support and reflect my most important personal values?
- Do I connect with this person on a deep and intimate level where we both appreciate and nurture the authenticity of the other person?
- What is our highest vision for our relationship and how we interact?
- How can our relationship serve as a model for others?
- What dreams do we share together or individually and how can we foster those dreams?
- How can our relationship make a difference in the world, in our community, in our family, and amongst our friends?
Once you determine the reasons for the choices you make, you are no longer unconscious. You recognize you can create a higher purpose for your life, in every area of your life. And once you are conscious and aware of this, it's hard to sit in the back of the bus and allow life to happen on cruise control.
In answering these questions, you will likely see that action and change is necessary. Sometimes this requires making difficult or painful choices (to change jobs, leave a relationship, find new friends, etc.). But the pain and difficulty is short-lived as you begin to redesign your life around a purpose or several purposes.
You may find through this self-questioning you've been living unconsciously in one or more areas of your life. Begin to slowly make changes to align your life with the higher purpose you've determined.
If you need to find passion in your career, begin by taking steps to uncover your passion by taking courses, reading, researching, and experimenting.
If you feel you need to change jobs completely, get your resume in order, begin looking at other jobs, get necessary training or skills.
If you see your relationship needs attention and connection, set aside time to communicate with your loved one, arrange for counseling, or work on your personal relationship problems.
If you aren't living the kind of lifestyle that feels purposeful and authentic, start creating new habits and making better choices.
As you begin to live more consciously and purposefully in all areas of your life, you may find that a unifying life purpose emerges spontaneously. You may encounter the “golden thread” of purpose that binds all elements of your life together.
For me, that thread of purpose is helping others reach a state of full consciousness and passion in their lives. For you, it might be expressing beauty, sowing the seeds of peace, leadership, or creating joy and laughter.
Please — don't allow your life to meander randomly without direction and the solid foundation of purpose. Become conscious of how you are living, the choices you make, and the life you really desire. Define the “why” of life for yourself. Create solid and deeply-considered reasons for everything you do.
Live with passion and purpose, and you will always be in the driver's seat of your life.
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