Find your purpose. Seems like a noble and worthwhile pursuit, right? It’s a phrase touted through Instagram quotes, self-improvement courses, and corporate careers fairs so why do so many of us wind up confused, overwhelmed and panicked by purpose? Purpose is problematic because it comes laden with pressure to make the “right” choice, suggests that one path is more valuable than others, and tinges the present moment with lack. Society puts so much weight on finding purpose that we can feel anxious, less-than, and unfulfilled without it, and missing all the joys along the way. What if it wasn’t about life purpose, but about present passion? We could set down the anxiety about choosing the “right path”, and quit living with the stress that we’re wasting time until we’ve found it.
So what if your life’s purpose was simply to be present enough to enjoy it? How could we approach our choices differently?
What type of person do you want to be?
Purpose is a problem because it suggests that something external is the key to “winning at life”. It leads us on a quest for the “perfect path”. We can be forgiven then for feeling that we cannot be whole until we’ve found it. This is why so many lose themselves in the search because they are busy doing, trying, and performing a certain way in order to “make it”. Rather than thinking “I want to DO ‘x’, so I have to BE ‘y’”, flip it around. Let the BE come before the DO. Start being the type of person you want to be, then let that lead to the things you do.
What would you be doing anyway?
Is there something you love so much that even if it wasn’t your job / purpose / mission / thing you define yourself by, you’d be doing it anyway? Perhaps that thing could do with some more of your attention. We often mix purpose with profession, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the thing that brings in the cash. If you’re finding the idea of purpose heavy, perhaps it’s worth asking yourself how much expectation you are putting on it to earn you millions. Approach what you fill your time with by the pleasure and passion of it and things may start to change.
What if you change your mind?
Changing your mind is OK. The idea that we each have one single purpose forever is a stressful quest. While some do find their “one thing”, if you look under the hood it’s likely that the expression of it does change and pivot over time. It’s time to make it acceptable to change our minds, to start over, even to quit sometimes. A purpose may not be for life but for a time.
So breathe a sigh of relief. Purpose is nothing if it’s a painstaking existence to find it. Can you find great joy in whatever you’re doing right now – whether or not it’s your purpose?
The Problem with Purpose — Corporate Health, Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing is written by Amanda McMillan for www.wellineux.com