Seriously, that question has done my head in for most of my life. And it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I started to question the whole idea as just that – an idea.
I’d always assumed it was a fact – that each of us have a life’s purpose and when we found it we’d feel fulfilled and happy.
If only I could find the darn thing!
Throughout my colourful employment history I’ve made many decisions in a response to that question of what is my life’s purpose. I’ve resigned from so many jobs under the depressive thought; ‘surely this can’t be it, this is not my life’s purpose!’
I’ve also embarked on courses and taken jobs all in the hopes that they would fulfill the deep longing, and even deeper more hidden fear that something was missing from my life.
But what I’ve come to realise is the whole idea of your life’s purpose and all the promises wrapped up in those words, is very much like the idea of meeting Mr Right.
When we were young we watched movies and read stories, and basically were instilled with the idea that there was a Mr Right out there (or a Mrs Right) who we’d bump into one day and they’d make everything better. And they’d be perfect. The meeting would be a dream, they would of course sweep me off my feet, and we’d fall instantly in love. There’d never be a drama, bicker or fight, and our life together be everything we’d ever hoped it would – of course, because of them and our picture perfect life together.
However as we grow up (and sometimes out) we come to know love and life aren’t like that. Yes, we can fall in love and even sometimes with the man or woman of our dreams, but often we’re quick to realise that doesn’t mean that they’re perfect. And we’ve also come to realise that we’re not perfect either. And that’s okay.
The issue I’ve found though, is that we haven’t crossed this line of thinking over to other areas, and we haven’t updated our romantic view of our life’s purpose. We still chase the life purpose carrot dangling out, always in front of us and just a little out of reach, that’s going to fix everything and make it all better.
And we’re usually swamped with a barrage of happy faces under facebook posts, and screaming websites of people telling us they’ve found their life purpose and now are living a magical existence… But what we don’t hear, is how their day to day life is still a struggle, or how they’ve found their life purpose but still feel under appreciated, or are having issues at home. And what they certainly don’t tell you, is that it wasn’t the magic cure-all they’d always thought it would be. (They usually don’t even admit that to themselves).
And that’s the part I want to talk about. The reality of the matter. Throughout my chopping and changing, and obsessing over life purpose and the meaning of life, I’ve been able to find work that does fulfill me, and that satisfies a deep urge to help other people.
However it’s not what makes me happy. And even when I started doing it, life was still hard. I’d still have major ups and downs, I regularly felt overwhelmed, and I still questioned what was the purpose of all of this! That’s largely because I thought it was supposed to make me happy, and it took me a long time to realise that it never could.
So I invite you to be brave and take a reality check. Have you been searching for your life’s purpose and secretly thinking that it’s your answer – that it’ll bring you the happiness and fulfillment you’ve longed for?
It’s okay. We all have. And many people won’t want to let this idea go, but the sooner we do, the closer we come to experiencing everything we’ve longed for. We’ve just been searching for it in the wrong direction.
And if we’re lucky we’ll find things we love doing in this lifetime and that we’re passionate about, and some of us will even be lucky enough to be able to do these things for a living. But these too, like everything outside of ourselves, aren’t what make us happy. They aren’t even what make us feel fulfilled. We do that for ourselves.
And it’s usually not until you’re in your dream job that you start to have the harsh realisation, that it’s not what makes you happy. If you were unhappy before you found your dream job – or ‘life purpose’ – then you’re still going to be unhappy afterwards too (usually once the honeymoon phase wears off).
But there’s a HUGE upside to this, because it means even if you haven’t figured out what you want to do yet, you can make happiness your goal now, and then the rest will follow much more easily.
If you start to make happiness and fulfillment your goal today, you’ll experience more joy, more confidence, and your interests, dreams and goals may even change. And it’s from that place that you’ll be able to discover more of what you want to do with your days, and your life.
Then your job, or finding your life’s purpose, won’t need to fix you. It won’t be responsible for your
happiness. It won’t be able to disappointment or let you down. And that’s incredibly freeing.
That’s when you really begin to experience the reality of knowing you can do anything, because you already feel good. You’re already happy. You’re not looking for your job or your life purpose to make you happy.
With love and happiness,