Raised in the Christian faith, I read and heard numerous references to gifts, talents, and purposes that someone might have.
All of the stories of people having a dramatic epiphany that revealed their God-given purpose on this earth (a burning bush experience) create a heavy expectation of how we learn purpose. In that expectation of a major revelation, we wander around asking, “What is my purpose?”
If this question were only about purpose, my books or blog would give all the answers needed. Through my own experience and the experiences of thousands of others, I’ve learned that this question is a case of mistaken identity.
Seeking our life’s purpose seems grand and mature. “It’s not that I can’t hold a job or commit to a relationship. I’m just trying to find my purpose.”
Finding our life’s purpose also seems like the cure to whatever ails us. “Life seems so pointless. If only I could find my purpose.”
I’m not belittling those feelings at all because they were my feelings too. The feelings are valid, but they aren’t fixed with purpose and the answer certainly isn’t outside of us. The real question to address the situation is one of awareness and vision. “What do I want my life to look like?”
Everyone I have spoken with who asked the purpose question thought they were looking for direction. They didn’t realize direction is useless unless you know where you are and where you want to go. Once those are determined, direction can make a difference.
If I hand a compass to someone that is completely lost, they might thank me, but I haven’t really done them any good. In a state of panic and depression (lost-ness) any direction seems like an improvement. However, without any navigational reference points you could end up more lost than before. Purpose doesn’t help in the absence of awareness and vision.
I have personally tried to establish purpose first and vision second. As long as you’re aware of your current location, that can get you started. What I’ve found is when you take off in a direction without knowing where you want to go, you’re likely to waste a lot of energy and become very frustrated. If you have the awareness to establish your vision before your purpose, you can at least take your first stride in the right direction. One without the other negates the effectiveness.
This is why all seven of the Elements of Personal Choice that I cover in Flip the SWITCH are necessary. The interplay makes each work. Checks and balances, so to speak. When all of them are in place, they hum and sing to the tune you’ve determined. If even one is missing, the rest can spin out of control and cause more harm than good.
If you want to ask the question, “What is my purpose in life?” I want to encourage you, first establish where you are. Go through the awareness exercise and put a pin in the map. “This is where I am.” Now go through the vision exercise and decide how you want your life to look. “This is where I want to go.” Only then can we effectively address purpose.
So in review:
- What do you want your life to look like?
- Establish where you are and where you want to go.
- Find your purpose by determining WHY you want to go.
I know it seems too simple…it is. It’s not always easy though. You have to do the work and sometimes need to tread through uncomfortable territory, but it’s worth it. You are worth it.
Be your best,