We are like tiny droplets in an infinite ocean with no concern for whatever exists beyond what our minds can comprehend. This can be comforting when things feel overwhelming. On the other hand, we must maintain some sort of feeling of significance, or we run the risk of clenching onto what our purpose is in life.
Your purpose is not to be a author, an actor, a manager, an entrepreneur, a lawyer, a physician, or any other career out there.
Those are all positions. They are admirable, achievable goals. If you’re trying to make something of yourself and use the talents you’ve been given, those are ideal things to be aiming towards.
But, they’re not your purpose.
Your career is important. It’s important to wake up every day with ambitions that make you feel like you’re contributing to the world.
However, your whole world should not center around the line of work you are in. Work challenges you and forces you to think and encourages you to use your talents to improve whatever it is that you’re trying to discover, create, sell, or fix. It helps to mold you into the person that you are, and it is a contributor to who you are.
But, it does not define who you are.
It’s easy to depend on work to give you a purpose because work allows you to be judged. Work gives you the opportunity to say, “I’m worth money” or “I’m doing just fine because I got a promotion” or “This is good enough to pay my bills.”
When you’re trying to find your purpose outside of work, no one is paying you for it. No one is promoting you. Nobody is paying your bills. Nobody is bringing you into their conference room or office for evaluations.
This is why it is difficult to find a purpose outside of your career. No one is telling us if we’re doing it right or wrong. No one is showing us the ropes. There’s no training or ladder to climb up. You don’t go straight up or straight down. You simply move in curves, twists, and turns, with no one there along the way to say that you’re doing great, or you need to work on this, or you’ll get promoted once you accomplish that.
Finding your purpose is up to you, and that’s why it’s terrifying yet at the same time exhilarating.
Finding your purpose is about learning. It’s about finding out about as much as you can about the world. Traveling. Reading. Exploring new hobbies or interests. Conversing with strangers and actually listening to what they have to say. Asking questions. Lending a helping hand. Making a difference. Allowing time for you to focus on what fascinates you.
Finding your purpose is about spending time with people - people you love and care about. It’s about finding the people you’re with in those rare moments where you feel like you understand the world, even if it’s just for a second. It’s about finding people who make you laugh and provide support when you are going through something. It’s about finding people who teach you and provide you with new and different perspectives. Overall, its about discovering people who make your life better.
Finding your purpose is about getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that terrify you. It’s about doing things that make your heart throb and shoot adrenaline through your veins. It’s about doing things that allow your body to remind you that it is very much alive and flourishing. It can be as physical as rock climbing, or as mental as a game of golf, or as spiritual as yoga. It’s about doing the thing you’re most afraid of, and then seeing how good your mind and body feel as soon as you’re done.
Because truly, at the end of the day, when you’ve retired, you still have to keep on living. You still have to keep on finding your purpose when you’re no longer receiving a salary. You have to find your purpose through other things in life - things that accelerate your wisdom, growth, courage, and strength.
Do not stress yourself out by convincing yourself that finding your purpose is just one more thing on your never-ending to-do list. Because here’s the surprisingly liberating news: finding your purpose does not have an endgame. It’s continuous. You are always going to be finding your purpose and you’re never going to stop. This is just the beginning.