Your Purpose, When Life Isn't Giving You What You Want
Not getting what I want pisses me off.
If I want to get to work fast, but am behind a slow driver, I get pissed off. If the store runs out of the sale item, kind of pissed. And if I want to be left alone, but am disrupted...you guessed it...pissed.
So you can imagine how I might react when I'm not getting out of life what I want.
I don't mean everyday circumstances. I'm talking about my place in the world. The vision for my life: Vice-President of some awesome company doing something I love at 26. Married at 27 years old. House at 28. Kids at 32. Living my purpose.
Only I never hit any of those milestones.
As a kid I thought things came easier than they did. Don't get me wrong, the concept of hard work was drilled in to me. It's just that my idea of hard work didn't live up to the reality. I thought hard work was staying late at the office and suffering a few minor humiliations of a rookie. I didn't know it was working until 2 or 3 a.m., learning how to be strategic, recognizing others' intentions, taking up for myself, asking for what I wanted, and understanding how to listen for what's not said.
I mean, imagine that. How could I have ever guessed that I'd have to be good at listening to and interpreting silence?
Back then I was so sure about how I wanted my life to unfold that when it didn't happen in my timing, you might be surprised to learn that I wasn't pissed, which would've been a gift.
I was lost.
Finding purpose is challenging enough, but finding it when your life isn't aligned with your vision is tougher. At this time in your life you thought you'd be doing something spousely or teaching a tiny human how to use the potty. Being a parent and a spouse are clearly purposeful roles. But when you're not either of those (and hope for it) and you don't know your purpose as a single individual, then what?
That's where I was. I was busy working, hanging out with friends, networking, but nothing centered around a higher cause or a greater goal. And I wanted that.
People who know the reason they were put on earth are among the blessed because that realization doesn't come easy for everyone.
If you are today where I was not that long ago, here are questions to ask yourself:
1) What do I do during this phase of life when I'd planned (in my head) to be doing something completely different?
2) What is my purpose at this moment?
It took me three decades to recognize my calling. I'd read excerpts from The Purpose Driven Life, which didn't resonate with me at all. I listened to some of the world's greatest spiritual teachers on the subject of purpose. I paid attention anytime a successful person spoke about how they determined the meaning of their lives. I put muscle into rock-hard soil to dig for an answer. To unearth what it was I needed.
I can't tell you exactly when it happened because it was gradual. I just knew that I'd been writing continuously since I was 12. It was a compulsion; I had to do it. I'd think about writing when I wasn't--still do to this day. And then one day author Jeff Goins told me (along with his thousands of other followers) to call myself by my name: writer. I'd found my purpose.
I look back on what I thought I wanted (and when I wanted it) to realize how ridiculously fortunately I am to have hit not one of those milestones.
That's what purpose does. It reassures you that your life is just fine.
On a bad day, life feels delayed. On a good day, I feel thankful for time to pursue what I love. No one depends on me or requires my time, so I'm free to pursue my purpose. And quite frankly, that's what I want from life at this moment.
Photo credit: Indy Kethdy via CC Flickr