If purpose is part of the reason we’re here, it seems like it should be easier to find.
I mean really. Why must we get lost in the woods like Hansel and Gretel trying to follow a half eaten trail of bread crumbs?
And why, when we’re trying to find our way, does the trail often lead to the witch’s house?
Shouldn’t the trail lead us, instead, to that place in ourselves where we feel deeply at home in our own skin?
Purpose should lead us to a place of peace and authenticity.
So why does the search for it so often seem daunting and even unbearable?
Why is purpose so hard to find?
I’ve spent two decades in obsessive pursuit of my purpose. For a long time purpose evaded me.
It doesn’t these days. I’m no longer held hostage by the lies that used to plague my pursuit. I know where purpose is now. What it’s about. How to live in it day in and day out. It’s totally different than I once thought.
I’m writing a short, simple book to help others uncover the secrets to finally finding purpose. You’re automatically in the loop if you’re getting this email. (Or you can opt out of the purpose updates here.)
It all starts with where I had it wrong.
I believed things that kept me stuck, anxious, fearful, and frustrated.
1. I believed finding my purpose would solve all my problems.
That it would be like the big, red easy button- once pushed, everything would fall into place.
- The way forward would be crystal clear.
- Decisions would make themselves.
- Emotional turmoil would subside.
- People would approve and give accolades.
- Money worries would go away.
- Actual work would feel like a vacation every day.
- Relationships would work without work.
- Bluebirds would chirp along the sunny path.
2. I believed purpose was only ONE thing.
I believed purpose was one, big sonic boom. If I missed it, I’d totally miss doing what I was put on earth to do. I’d be letting the world down. And myself. And God. I was terrified I’d spend the rest of my life lost in a fog of regret and bitterness if I missed it.
3. I believed purpose was a perfect fit.
Like a puzzle, I assumed the pieces already lay put together somewhere along my path. I believed there was one piece of that puzzle inside of me. When it found its fellow pieces, it would fall into place picture perfect. That feeling of completion would tell me I’d finally found it.
4. I believed purpose was outside of me.
Like an unevenly matched game of hide and seek, I believed purpose was out there waiting on me to find it. I believed I must turn over every rock and look behind every tree. I searched frantically for it, becoming frustrated and exhausted over time.
5. Yet I believed it was also in my DNA.
This was the most confusing feeling. I believed my purpose was “out there,” something I would need to find and do. But I’d also picked up the belief along the way that my purpose was so true and unique to me that it was woven into the fiber of my being. “It’s in your DNA.” I was told, “You just need to uncover it and let it out.”
6. I believed if my purpose was embedded in my personhood, it was the measure of my worth.
This belief was especially debilitating because I carried out my purpose among people. Lots of people who would be kind and supportive, yes. But also people who had the potential to be critical and hateful. And if people with ill intent attacked my purpose work in the world, they were essentially attacking and denying my significance as a human being.
These beliefs had me perpetually trying something new and quitting when things got tough.
Writing projects, volunteer jobs, graduate school (twice), business ideas, interviews, teaching gigs, online businesses, relationships, and more.
On one hand, all this allowed me a wide variety of experiences. I’ve learned a lot about what I like and even more about what I don’t like.
On the other hand, it made me feel like a chronic failure. Numerous half-ass attempts litter the pages of my story.
For the longest time I saw myself as a serial quitter.
That self-image is not positive or helpful in finding life purpose. It actually caused a lot of pain and suffering inside and out. I wondered, “Was each one simply not right or could I just not follow anything through to completion?”
To boil it down, I was scared out of my mind.
Scared to try. Scared not to try.
Because I was chasing a lie.
I needed a clear picture of what I was pursuing before I could actually find it.
Trying and repeatedly quitting in my search for purpose has taught me vital lessons.
Seven of them to be exact.
I’ll be sharing more about those in June.
Also published on Medium.