Think back to a time when you felt the most lost. More likely than not, you were at a cross-roads, completely unsure of where to turn. Without a sense of direction, you feel stagnant; useless. “What am I even doing here?” You may ask yourself. “And where do I go from here?” No doubt this can be one of the most unsettling sensations that we can hope to experience. This is why those who have an established sense of purpose tend to have higher self-esteem.
As human beings, we desire a sense of purpose.
Some of us are incredibly fortunate in the fact that we discover the purpose of our life’s work very early on. It seems that some people are practically born shredding riffs on a guitar, or deciphering the most complicated of algorithms. But for the rest of us, it’s a bit of a guessing game until we finally find that something that just “clicks.” Until then, we may feel lost or a little bit useless.
Your purpose does not always have to be your passion.
Sometimes, it’s better off that way. Some lucky people are able to transform their passion into their livelihood,1 and are able to maintain the aspects that they love about it. But for many that isn’t the case. It can destroy your perception of your passion and make you abandon your pursuit. But you can still build your career on something that you are passionate about, and there is a difference. That difference being that your personal welfare does not hang so vulnerably in the balance.
How to know that you are pursuing your “life’s work”:
- It feels more like a hobby than work.
- You work as an extension of your beliefs and values.
- You are willing to suffer for your work, and use setbacks as motivation.
- You lose yourself in the work, often losing sense of time.
- You are able to maintain a work/life balance without feeling drained.
- The concept of work is never daunting; you look forward to it.
- The people closest to you will notice your contentment.
- No matter how exhausted you are, you look forward to continuing your work.
Can we exist without a purpose?
Well, technically, yes. But whenever we perform any sort of act, there is an intention behind it. Even if the act is just breathing, the intention is to live. Your purpose does not have to be a lucrative facet. In fact, it could be just the opposite of that. Some people make it a point to be as disconnected and off of the grid as humanly possibly, living a life that is 100% self-sustainable. The end game is not fortune or recognition, it’s complete independence. Now some people have franchised this way of life, generating income based off of their “off the grid blogs” (do I sense a major paradox here?). Just in that one instance, you have two completely different intentions, stemmed from similar life’s-work.
The point that I’m trying to make here is that…
We all have a purpose. Whether or not that purpose is highly recognized by others is completely irrelevant.
In one of my previous articles, I explored the ideology Stoicism; which is the ancient Greek foundation for a kick-ass work ethic. They believed that no human was complete without their sense of purpose; and once that purpose is discovered; solace is only achieved when you sacrifice yourself to it entirely.
Finding your sense of purpose.
Many of you may still be thinking that you have no idea what your sense of purpose is. And that’s not your fault. There are many outside influences that have hindered your passions and sense of self. Not to worry. I have a few suggestions that can set you on the path to find yourself:
Take a sabbatical.
Get off of the track that you’ve been on. It’s taking you nowhere and never will until you see the broader picture. Step outside of your comfort zone to really get a sense of who you are. By following the guidelines set forth for you, you are living out someone else’s ideals.
You need to completely separate yourself from that to discover who you really are. Going on a solo trip might sound terrifying, but it is the best thing anyone could possibly do for themselves. If that is financially out of the picture, then force yourself to do something you would “never” do. Like going out one night on your own; to the movies or a bar or a restaurant. Doing things on your own is empowering in itself.
Revisit your childhood ambitions.
What did you want to be when you “grew up?” (When does that actually happen? I’m still waiting.) Do any of those dreams still resonate with you? Maybe you wanted to be a vet, but the idea of operating on any sort of body is terrifying and nauseating. But you love animals! Check out a local animal sanctuary and volunteer your time. You could just find your calling. And if not, you are that much closer!
Take note as you are trying new things.
Does the idea of taking the plunge to fully pursue this new outlet inspiring? Or is it draining? If you feel yourself withdrawing early on, you need to ask yourself a few things. Are you withdrawing because it is not important enough to you to sacrifice your time and efforts? Are you withdrawing because you are afraid of failure? Or are you afraid of success, because if it works out then you have to make the choice of complete devotion?
Do you feel lost or as if something is missing in your life? Maybe you want to make a bigger difference in the world than you feel you are, but you aren’t sure how. So many of us walk through life, feeling numb and desperate for a deeper connection, but aren’t sure how to get it.
The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out what your purpose is