Purpose. Many people believe that for our lives to be fulfilling and meaningful we must 'find our purpose'. Now, without question, living life 'on purpose' is a wonderful and fulfilling thing, but the idea that our purpose is something that pre-exists for us to find somewhere can very often be toxic and undermining.
This morning I received an email from a subscriber to this blog concerning just this. The dialogue below comprises some parts of that email along with some perspectives I think are worth sharing on the topic.
"My problem is that I've been out of work for almost fifteen months now. I know I want to get a job and I know I can make a big contribution but I haven't really been able to work out what I want to do despite putting hours and hours into the process. I know I want a job but don't know what I want to do and don't know how how to get there."
If you can't work out what you want to do, it simply means you don't want to do any of the things you have considered. The question is 'why?' Or, more specifically, 'what is it that is stopping you wanting to do any of those things?' In truth there are lots of things you could do well right now, so what are the stories that you are telling yourself that are getting in the way.
Are they stories about self worth? Are they stories that have you believe this is a big decision? Are they stories about having to 'get it right' otherwise inevitable disaster ensues?
What are the stories?
Oftentimes in life, choosing and moving and taking action are more important and empowering than making the 'right' or 'best' (or 'perfect') choice. Action and movement beats inaction and inertia, whatever the quality, because you can only steer something once it's moving. Take action and course correct as you go.
David Deida has said "life is really just the correction of one mistake into the next" that can sound grim to some, so I'm going to change it up.
"Life is just the steering from one exploration or adventure into another."
Before training as an NLP trainer I took a job as an assistant project manager in local government. There was nothing inspiring about it. Nothing that suggested that it was aligned with my purpose (which was ill formed at best at the time). But I did it anyway and I did it with a vow to make the very best of it FOR ME and to learn whatever I could from it. It was there I met the person who hooked me up with the people with whom I originally studied NLP.
That is one example of many I could give you as to how 'less than desirable' jobs and compromises have lead to life shaping opportunity.
"It might be an excuse but I think part of the problem (or at least my internal reasoning) for not finding a job so far is that I have a sense of being here for a purpose but I don't know what that is."
The only purpose you are here for is the purpose you actively create. If you haven't created and shaped your purpose yet, you don't have one!
Living life 'on purpose' is about stepping into your power to define your own mission... NOT waiting passively for some 'calling' (that is the opposite - reactive living, not purposeful living).
So how are you keeping yourself from stepping into your creativity and having some fun creating your purpose?
Most people do it by having a crappy self image filled with definitions about what they are not capable of and what is not possible or what is not right for them. The crappy self image is based upon who they grew up thinking they are.
So, forget the past - create what you want afresh NOW!
"I'm not religious so this is probably about working out what shaped hole would suit a 'me like' peg, but I do have the sense that if I knew why I was here, finding a way of doing that would be so much easier."
Carve out your own hole, or re-shape yourself, or both. Get active. Get creative. Nobody is coming to bring you the ideal circumstances or the perfect fit or a mission or a life purpose. YOU are the only one with the power - switch it on, get creating and get creative.
"As it is I'm just doing a scatter gun approach for anything that I'm vaguely qualified for, wasting my time and my life and getting nowhere."
Then it is time to stop wasting time SEARCHING and get focused on CREATING. start by clearing some time and a space in your brain for creating the first draft of the blueprint of the lifestyle you want. Clear away the bullshit stories about what is possible or practical... Just for NOW get into the land of fantasy and DREAM. This is the ONLY way to start getting in touch with passion and purpose. Of course, the 'realist' and the 'critic' will try and jump in and ruin your quality dreaming time, but kick them out (their time to contribute will come).
And you don't need to do this in isolation. You can be taking action now by taking any work that gets you engaging with the world, and approach it with the mind to make the most of it from a developmental perspective WHILST at the same time engaging in the iterative process of creating and shaping your purpose.
Nothing exists before it is created, and that includes 'purpose', so the only way OUR purpose can come to exist is when WE create it. Don't wait, create.