Written by Michael J Theron
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Finding your purpose
Just as you are in charge of your dreams, your passion and your attitude, you are in charge of your purpose, your why and your meaning. You are in charge of it all. If these strange times have done nothing else they have shown you that you are a survivor. So use your story as fuel, and if you believe it is possible, you can have it. But without purpose, it like sailing through the sea of life without a compass.
According to Jeremy Adam Smith (2018) from Berkeley University, a sense of purpose appears to have evolved in humans so that we can accomplish big things together—which may be why it’s associated with better physical and mental health. Purpose is adaptive, in an evolutionary sense. It helps both individuals and the species to survive. All of us have a purpose; we are not born simply to exist but to thrive and evolve. For each of us that will be different as we are unique individuals with different strengths and qualities.
So where do we start, how do we begin to identify what our purpose is? My biggest challenge with doing something like this is I get stuck in my head. Then I get so bogged down with conflicting thoughts that I prefer to escape and find a million other things to distract me. So rather than turning this into some massive existential crisis, have some fun with it and enjoy the process. Getting stuck behind mental roadblocks will only stall you, so be playful. Let your imagination run wild and let out your inner child. This exercise is an enjoyable way to get you started.
- List two of your unique, personal qualities. (Such as enthusiasm, creativity, humour, organization) ____________________________ and _____________________________
- List two ways you enjoy expressing each of those qualities when interacting with others. (Such as to support, to inspire, to create, to harmonize)
- Now assume the world is perfect. What does this world look like to you? How is everyone interacting with everyone else? What does it feel like? Please write your answer as a statement, in the present tense, describing the ultimate condition, the perfect world as you see it and feel it. Remember, an ideal world is a fun place to be! ( An example might be – all freely express their unique talents, working in harmony, and unity)
- Now combine each of the previous three elements to write a single statement. (My purpose is to use my creativity and enthusiasm to support and inspire others to express their talents harmoniously and lovingly).
This exercise on defining your purpose was taken from “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer and was one of the activities I did when doing a coaching course. My statement read as follows ‘My purpose is to use my compassion and creativity to motivate and inspire all people to live to their fullest potential in joy and authenticity’. Finding my purpose has led me to read more, to do more courses and put real effort into changing myself and how I engage with my environment daily. It has also helped me to change the way I do therapy and how I help those who come to see me.
According to Jennifer Dulski, in her book ‘Purposeful” (2018), purpose is the first ingredient, and a clear vision is the second. She states that purpose answers the question of why you want to take action, and your vision is what the future will look like after you have taken action, and the desired change takes place.
In the follow-on to this post , I will talk about meaning and how this is related to purpose. Until then, thank you for taking the time to read this and wishing you all the best for finding your purpose.