dear amy- Some days I wake up wondering, “What am I doing with my life and why? And does any of it really matter?” What do you do when you lose your sense of purpose? -M
This happens to me, too. I’ll have a spurt when things are rockin’ and rollin’ and feeling right. Like I’m in my lane, doing my thing and it matters- to me and maybe to the world a bit.
But just as quickly as those feelings say hello, they can go. Then worry sets in. Sometimes sadness. Fear. Confusion. Even dread.
Therefore I’ve learned not to let my feelings lead, because they can be as fussy and fickle as a teething baby.
When my feelings tell me that I’ve lost my sense of purpose, I try one of the following tactics.
8 ways to recover when you’ve lost your sense of purpose-
1. Put a pin in it.
Sometimes, we’re just having a bad day. Label it as such and don’t try to fight it or fix it or figure it out.
“Tomorrow is a brand new day. Fresh mercies and moments are waiting there, so I’ll wait too.”
Then don’t try so hard. Take “you” off that hook you’ve hung yourself on!
2. Reach out to someone you trust.
Call, text, message, or email him or her. Tell them the truth and ask them to remind you.
“I’ve forgotten why I’m doing this, why it matters. “Can you remind me who, what, where, why, how please?”
3. Turn your focus from yourself to someone else.
One of the primary things that keeps us in a purposeless funk is self-absorption. The more we think about it, the more we feed it, and the worse we feel.
Make a point to shift your thoughts to another person.
“Who can I help / encourage / support / love / serve? What is one small thing I can do for that person?”
Then go do it.
4. Use the SOAK method.
A purposeful moment can be found when we try this awesome little trick. (More details at the bottom of this post if you want them.)
“What is the most loving thing I can do next?”
5. Try KISSing.
When we lose our sense of purpose we can feel confused and overwhelmed. This is the perfect time to simplify the situation. We can use the acronym KISS and remind ourselves,
“Keep it simple, sweetie.”
Identify what specific things are making you feel complicated and set aside as many of them as possible for now.
6. Read your journal.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that things were better just a few days back. Funky feelings can seem like they’ve been hanging around forever. But in reality, they’ve just dropped in for an unwelcome visit. If you keep a journal ask yourself,
“When was I recently feeling better about things?”
Try to pinpoint an event or time period and see if you left yourself reasons in writing. When you review them, it will shift your thinking. (This is a great reason to write things down when life is going well.)
7. Remember Resistance is probably razzing you.
You probably think it’s you- those voices saying you’ve lost your way. But they aren’t you at all. Rather they are voice of Resistance and its sole purpose is to keep you from doing your work.
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes about it,
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance…To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius.”
8. Lean into the thing you’re most afraid of.
Fear can keep us sooo stuck. Sometimes the best way to beat fear is to look it square in the eye and do the very thing fear is telling you not to. This works best when we’re feeling feisty and ready to fight for the life we want.
Also published on Medium.