on this one, I don’t agree with the experts
(in which we don’t give up on our purpose and refuse to stay put)
I’ve recently listened to a few podcasts and read some experts and quotes from books that are challenging the idea of us trying to pursue our sense of purpose. Stop trying to figure out that reason that you’re here on the planet. Stop focusing on a personal purpose, vocation so to speak, and just find what you enjoy. They say that we are paralysed by a deep desire to know exactly what we’re here for (some may even call this a calling) and so we should ditch it, and just do what’s in front of us.
Now, as with most controversial thoughts, there is some truth in this concept. I meet people all the time who are looking for the perfect, wanting to be sure they are doing the right thing, the best thing, the purposeful thing even, and in doing so they don’t do anything. They don’t make a change out of fear of getting it wrong. They just want to know the exact reason that they are here, what they are made for, and then they’ll be OK. Mark Twain (as much as I like this quote) doesn’t really help the situation: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” The problem with this is that you don’t just ‘figure out why’ one day. It takes effort, thought and probably isn’t something you just arrive at.
Then there are other people who aren’t making change in their life for very different reasons. They’ve satiated themselves, numbed themselves even. They’re bobbing along, earning a wage, doing ok, living for the weekend, thinking about how they can make upgrades to their environment or what enjoyment that they can bring to self. The problem here is, it’s a bottomless bucket. Every thing we have, or item we pursue, or next level we attain to, doesn’t quite cut it. We think it will, but really, all the external stuff (even the really good stuff) can only fill the gap for so long. Perhaps those who are living in this way are constantly living for the future version of themselves – when I have this or that I will be happy. When I have accomplished this or that I will be happy.
Neither of these routes quite cut it, and that is because pursuing a sense of purpose is vital for human flourishing. That does not mean you get a divine download or a moment of epiphany that explains it all. Sorry, that is rare (I think Mary might be one of a handful). For most of us, it is the hard work of learning about ourselves, the choice to not stay put, the decision to feel the discomfort of growth and put in the time and the graft to see the change in our lives. It’s a lifetime of learning, collecting feedback and nuggets as we go, that all help and shape our decisions so we can find work that is enjoyable, meaningful, stretching and fulfilling (not all the time because that also isn’t real life).
The uncomfortable truth is that we often want people to just tell us what to do. That’s why we enlist books and podcasts and coaches and therapists. People of faith expect God to do it for them. Spiritual individuals expect the universe, or nature to sort it out. But we (and I know some of you will switch off here) have to take responsibility for our own lives. We gather help, we get signposts along the way but we have to own our choices and make decisions. I think it’s freeing to know that there is no exact right way. It’s also freeing to know that there are things that we were made to do. They’re yours to do – yours to enjoy, accomplish, experience. Try and see this differently. Don’t obsess over the blueprint – just get what you need to inform the next step. People often say to me, how did you start your business, what did you do to plan out those first five years and get to where you are now? And honestly, the truth is I didn’t have it all sorted out. I knew enough to illuminate the path ahead of me, I learnt as I went and gathered help as I stepped out, and the plan became clearer as I stepped out ahead of me. Sorry. But to say otherwise just would not be true. I think this is the same for most people, we know a bit, we guess a bit, we try a bit.
And clarity comes and we move.
So – don’t ditch the idea of purpose. It’s yours to discover – bit by bit.
Do let go of the idea of perfection. It actually doesn’t exist and why would you want it to?
If you’re ready to put in some work on yourself, if you want to know more about what only you can do, then I am willing to match that investment. My coaching course and community will give you all you need to ask yourself the right questions, be armed with the right feedback and some incredible tools that will help you see yourself in a whole new light.
Future you will thank you.
See you there,
P.S. Last week I wrote about how I don’t think coaching is the answer.