I still remember the day that, while reporting my first official story as a newspaper reporter (it was a geography bee in a town of like 10 people), I felt the surge of knowing my life purpose.
I knelt down in front of the winner, a small, brunette boy, with my reporter’s notebook, pencil in hand and asked him, “So how does it feel to win?”
Looking back, it was so silly. I had big dreams, and the size of those dreams in contrast to my reality as a small town newspaper reporter caused significant turmoil, but at that moment, I felt that I had found my path.
Until that path no longer worked. When I got cancer about a year later, I realized that journalism path had been informed not of my desire to write about current events, but by the feeling of responsibility I had for saving the world.
When I got cancer, it was like a hall pass for that responsibility. Thanks, I thought, I’ve suffered enough. It’s my turn to be happy.
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And my dream died. I had no idea what to do next. I stopped writing for years. Got my real estate license, then tried public relations and bought expensive, preppy clothes ill-suited to my body and my personality.
Flash forward to last week, it wasn’t until I was putting the final touches on the first week’s emails for my online course, The Magic of Meditation (thank you everyone who signed up!), that the surge rose again. That surge of knowing my life purpose.
But it felt so different this time. It was a feeling of connection, and not of ego. It was as if I was channeling some vast intelligence, playing with the essence of nature itself. Not that I was responsible for saving the Earth, but could perhaps influence it in some small way just by using my skills to express a stream of divine consciousness.
And this brings us to life purpose. Something so many of us search for, yet find so elusive.
Once we find something that feels purposeful, how do we make a living at it? Is life purpose even something for which we should make a living?
This is a big, broad topic, but let’s explore. Shall we?
Life purpose is not something you do, but something you are.
Life purpose is not about what you do, but the connection you feel while doing it. It’s something done out of joy, and not responsibility. Something that feels innate and oh-so unique to us.
For example, I love writing about spirituality and putting cool programs together, and it ends up helping people. But I really love it because I learn about life while doing it. I feel connected to the vast infinite source when in the flow, and it feels fun and playful. It feels like a big job, not in the work sense, but like I’m charged with decoding this energy filtering through me, condensing raw energy into words.
But I didn’t arrive at this place by searching. I stumbled upon it through drifting. All my life, I searched so hard for something that would feel meaningful, and the more I searched, the more confused I became.
To find your life purpose, you must stop searching. You must allow yourself to drift.
This of course runs counter to what society tells you with its five-year plans and need to everything figured out. But society itself has nothing figured out, so don’t worry what other people say. Just drift.
If you need to have a day job in the meantime, or do something that doesn’t feel meaningful, it’s okay. You’re still likely learning valuable skills that will help you later on.
When we allow ourselves to drift, we give ourselves the space to follow curiosity. To develop our innate talents into something that will be useful for the universe to use.
We may eventually stumble upon a career that feeds us physically and spiritually, and this is of course ideal. But less important that what we become is who we become while doing it.
This is because our work here on Earth is to grow as souls, but our literal work may also evolve over time. What feels purposeful right now might not feel purposeful in five years, and constant evolution is important.
Is life purpose a job?
I don’t fully feel that life purpose is always a job. I remember seeing a social worker when I was sick, and she said that some people consider kindness their life purpose. That seemed asinine to me at the time. Kind? But what are they doing?, I thought.
Now I see that truly, more important than what we do is who we are while we’re doing it.
Of course, it’s good to have work that feels meaningful and earns money; your gifts are valuable and worthy of just compensation. But that’s not the only thing.
And work that feels purposeful typically evolves over time. If you get caught up in making your life purpose lucrative on your time frame, or making something into your life purpose that’s actually not, you will make compromises that take you off the path of purpose.
You will sacrifice authenticity for speed and you will no longer be acting in a way that feels authentic.
It goes back to drifting. Purpose as it pertains to livelihood must be allowed to evolve in its own time. This isn’t to say you can’t apply sound business strategies and work to achieve goals, but only to say that you’ll know when it’s time to employ those strategies.
Until that time comes, let your path evolve. Not only must we evolve, but our skills must evolve to allow us to manifest the divine’s message as it wants to be revealed through us.
What if Van Gogh had not practiced for so many hours and could only draw stick figures when divine inspiration came calling?
What if he had been so eager to make money from his art that he created what he thought was commercially viable and instead of making history, made junk that people threw in the dumpster after five months?
This has definitely been my experience. I worked a job I hated, but it taught me so many skills that I use every day, like basic web design and client service. And after I quit that job, I freelance wrote, which gave me that freedom to drift. It was the first time I wandered with no purpose and soon enough, I found purpose.
My blog and work creating courses to help people heal and blossom into a full expression of self is not yet a full-time income. My own dream of allowing this work to sustain me as I travel the world having spiritual experiences that I can pass on to others, is not happening as quickly as I’d like it.
Staying authentic is always a challenge
This slow pace has caused considerable self-doubt, especially because it seems to happen so fast for others. So then I look outside of myself for advice. Business experts who sell marketing advice that everybody follows, and then they all look the same, sound the same. And they all turn into marketing drones, and I follow in the hopes of being commercially viable.
And this effort comes from fear. Because I’m afraid that my message will die in me, that there’s something wrong with me or my message and my heartfelt work is boring because sometimes I’m scared I’m boring. This fear makes me feel like I have to trick people to be interested in what I’m saying when I have the most success when all I do is show up and share my story.
I’m truly learning, over much trial and error that the most important component to success is staying authentic. That and persistence. This journey is a long one.
Everything makes sense at the end. Everything ultimately gets folded into the great beyond to create the richly woven narrative of your life.
And even the path of authenticity zig-zags between pure individuality and too much influence from others, fueled by self-doubt. And that’s okay. That’s the journey. It zigs and zags and it’s not straight. We find balance by messing up, making bad decisions, mistakes and finding out what doesn’t work, what doesn’t feel good.
Then maybe we take too many risks, think too far outside the box and need some of that commercial viability to come back to center. It’s a balance, like everything else in life.
As we navigate that balance, we find ourselves and fine-tune our talents. We figure out what works by seeing what doesn’t. We take risks, reap the rewards and learn from the failures.
The unifying thread, for the spiritually minded, is the intention of connection.
Just seek to stay connected, keep returning to your heart. Forgive yourself for making choices that don’t feel good, don’t resonate.
And remember that even when you feel on the path, ultimately you’re still drifting. That’s what makes life a grand adventure. You never quite know where you’re going to end up.
What is your life purpose? I’d love to hear. Share in the comments below.
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