Need to Find Your Purpose in Life? Try this!
What is your purpose in life? You know, just a little small question to throw at you today. What is your purpose in life?
I would imagine if you’re watching this or hearing this, you have thought about your purpose in life, and, perhaps, you’ve already landed on what your purpose in life is. And if you are clear on that purpose and you’re already on the path, more power to you. Keep going and pursue it wholeheartedly.
Today. I’m speaking to those of you who struggle to define what in the world your purpose in life is.
Let’s face it. It’s a really lofty topic, and it can be exciting and yet overwhelming at the same time to try to define a purpose—oh my goodness—for your entire existence.
First of all, let me acknowledge if you are here with me right now and pondering what your purpose in life is, you are a very privileged human being. And I use that word privileged quite intentionally. The word means “a special advantage to a specific or particular person or group.” You live in a time and a place where you are able to go beyond just surviving to thriving. And that means you’re not spending your days in the acquisition of food and protecting yourself from the ills and unexpected nature of the wild. You have time, space, and opportunity to ponder that your life may hold more meaning than just sustaining and existing—eating, hiding from the elements, and reproducing to keep the species going. You have that amazing privilege.
If you’re like me and you’ve been in many situations in which you’ve been invited to define your purpose in life, you may have felt a struggle to do so. I grew up very active in church, and, certainly in church environments related to my faith, I was frequently, at different junctures, invited to think about and set a purpose in life. In my professional pursuits as a relatively ambitious, career-oriented person, I’ve been invited to define my purpose in life. Involved in charitable activities and organizations related to things that I care about—certainly that has led to the discussion and the pondering of what is my purpose in life. And I’ll be honest with you. This has never been simple for me to do because sometimes I’m just in the moment. And I know that, in that day, I feel like I am living out a purpose though It’s not fully defined.
As I bring more coaching and training to people, as I help guide folks in the paths of their career and their day-to-day lives so that they have more time and opportunity to really focus on what sparks them, this topic of purpose in life continues to reveal itself to me.
I, not too long ago, had an epiphany, a revelation for myself—that I could finally state a purpose in life for myself that holds true across the board. At times. I have felt maybe ‘this’ is my purpose, maybe ‘that’ is my purpose—and certainly I’m not disregarding those previous purposes that came to mind, but they were often circumstantial. They were related to where I was in my life at the time, who I was around, the groups and organizations I was participating in. And as times and seasons evolved, those very specific purposes would often fade, and it left me wondering, what is my purpose? What, why am I here?
So—my revelation: My purpose in life is to live my life on purpose.
My purpose in life is to live my life on purpose.
This sounds perhaps really simplified, but it’s not simplistic. It’s a purpose that I find is the foundation for any other purpose that may arise as I live out my life.
What does it mean to live life on purpose? What is the meaning of purpose? Well, because I’m a word nerd, in advance of recording this for you today, I looked up the word “purpose” and the phrase “on purpose”—the derivation of that word and that phrase, the etymology of where the word purpose and the term on purpose come from.
So… Purpose (I won’t bore you with the details I promise!) but the word, as we know it today, is mostly an Anglo-French derivation of a word. It does go back to Latin roots and, to latch onto this so that it has meaning for us in this moment, I’ll read this to you: “the reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists.” back to the around 1300, P U R P U S “purpus”: “intention, aim, goal, object to be kept in view, proper function for which something exists.”
I thought that was really helpful: “proper function for which something exists,” especially in light of the purpose that I have landed on. That is my purpose above or, foundationally, beneath all other purposes that I will find in my life.
And the phrase “on purpose” means “design intentionally” and dates from around 1580. So it goes back aways—“by design, intentionally”—on purpose. My purpose, my proper function for existing, is to live my life on purpose by design, intentionally.
Here’s why this was a helpful epiphany or revelation for myself, and I feel it is an engine that can drive and motor me forward in other purposes that will arise most assuredly in my life.
If I find my purpose in living daily with intention, I’m awake, I’m open, I’m deciding, I’m active. I’m not at the whim of circumstances that are swirling around me. I am very clear, even if I have questions in the moment. I’m awake. I’m deciding. I am aware and choosing for myself. And I’m here to tell you. if my purpose is to simply live my life on purpose, that will lead to amazing fruit and the ability to focus on things that spark me and things that matter to me. (And I believe there is a difference between—or a correlation that is— between what sparks and what matters. I’ll explain that later.)
But if I am just present every day, showing up by design intentionally, that’s an amazing purpose in life. I believe we as human beings in this modern time the proper function for which something exists, for which I exist, is to be actively aware, awake, and present with intention in the moment.
So, what sparks me are things that light me up. Being here with you today honestly sparks me. And then there are things that matter to me. And the delineation that I create here is that there are certain things that matter to me—and they may well be related to something that sparks me—but matter, I take it a little bit literally as I talk about it because it’s weighty; it can be weighty. So a lot of people feel that their purpose in life needs to be associated with that weighty thing that matters to them, kind of ‘a save the world’ mentality, and that’s beautiful. I’m not at all disregarding it, but that can be taxing and exhausting. It can lead to burnout.
The what ‘sparks you,’ your purpose may be related to what sparks you and that can fluctuate as well. So if I’m showing up with my purpose being to live life on purpose, I can balance what sparks me, what matters to me, because I am in the moment, staying intentional, staying awake, I’m being present. And I truly believe that is the human experience. If we do nothing more than that, we are on the path to a really interesting, meaningful life and interactions with others and the use of who we are, our talents and abilities and opportunities.
I was excited to get to this place because, having grown up in environments where this topic comes up and never really landing on something as I observed others do, at least I observed them do in the moment, it was really… I never felt horribly frustrated by it, to be honest with you, because I felt peaceful and okay. But I, you know, I would be left ponder. Should I have a purpose? You know, or sometimes it’s called a calling or a mission. I just felt like if I was in the moment, living my life and at peace and generally happy, joyful in that deeper sense of that idea, that I was good. And to land on this “living my life on purpose is my purpose in life” aligns with what I was already feeling and experiencing throughout my decades on this planet. And with this, it is it’s part of what I would call my “simply successful blueprint.”
It’s not simplistic or overly simplified. It’s not necessarily easy-breezy, but it’s a clear, concise way to approach the idea of purpose in life.
If you’re someone who has never quite landed on the thing that stuck in terms of purpose in life, if you’ve had moments where you thought it was clear and then a year later you were onto something else and you’re, like, “what do I do with that reality?”, or that—you know,—what you thought was your purpose has morphed or changed or fallen a way, I invite you to embrace this idea.
My purpose in life, my reason for existing as a human being, according to the etymology of the word, a purpose is to just live my life by design intentionally on purpose—as the phrase derived back in around the 1580s. My purpose in life is to live my life on purpose: awake, present, intentional in the moment and in each day. When you arrive at each opportunity each day, just awake and aware—oh my goodness. Who knows what’s to come?!
Thanks for being here.
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