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WTF? The 5 Ways You Do Your Life's Purpose Wrong

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Do SOMETHING meaningful with your life!

Day-in and day-out, I talk to people who want to find their life's purpose.

I make a point to pay close attention to what my clients, associates and colleagues say as they describe the purpose-driven life they seek to live. As I see it, my job is not simply to respond to what I hear, but rather to figure out how I can help those around me get what they really need to feel happier, healthier, and more successful.

When people talk about finding their purpose they often also talk about identifying their passion. They want to have a sense of meaning in their life. They want to make a contribution. Well, I have news for you: you've been doing your life's purpose wrong. Yep. I'll show you how. 


The 5 Misleading Myths About Your Purpose in Life


1. Your Life Purpose is Your Vocation

This is one of the mistaken ideas that I tackle first when I talk to someone who wants to find their life purpose. Why is this myth about life purpose so pervasive? I think it's because we live in an increasingly work-centric society that doesn't teach us that there is a difference between our life purpose and our work. They are, in fact, two totally distinct things.

It's absolutely possible to integrate your life purpose into your work, that's true. HOWEVER, when people feel stuck and struggle to identify their purpose it's often because they've come to think of their career as the place in which they'll find their purpose.  Or, it's the reverse. In this scenario, people try to find their life purpose through the process of developing their career and meet with tremendous frustration. Either way it just does not work.

Solution: Ask yourself: "Am I trying to trying to figure out my life purpose or my next career move?" Allow yourself the space to see your life purpose and your career as separate things.


2. Your Life Purpose Can Only Be One Thing

Because people often conflate their career with their life purpose, they often think that their purpose is one specific thing. 

As kids, when we're asked what we want to be when we grow up, we tend to say things like: "I want to be a fireman" or "I want to be a ballerina."  As adults, when we think about life-purpose, we mistakenly hyper-focus on a single outcome the same way we did when we were young. But this is not how things really work. Instead, once you begin to feel into what a purpose-driven life might look like, a number of options often emerge and many of them will be equally satisfying.

Solution: Don’t try and narrow things down too soon. Ask yourself why an idea appeals to you rather than if it's the right idea or not.


3. You Must Find Your Life Purpose Before You Start Living It

Our life purpose is intimately connected to what we love most. We know that much. This means that when we start doing what we love we take our first steps along the path towards our purpose. This also means that we don’t need to wait to live a purpose-driven life. All we need to do is to determine what we love and do it as often as possible.

Solution: Do what you love to do. Discover more things you love to do. And make time to reflect.


4. Only a Fortunate Few Live Their Life Purpose

This is a tricky myth. On the one hand, a fortunate few actually do have a career that successfully integrates their life purpose. On the other hand, I'm not sure if these people are particularly fortunate. It can be overwhelming to tie up your livelihood so closely to your passion.

When we recognize that our life purpose is a combination of what we most care about, what we love to do, and what we value, it becomes clear that we always have the option to live our life purpose. It's not necessary to fit our purpose into our career. Rather, it's necessary that we fit our purpose into our lives.

Solution: Figure out what you care most about, what you love most to do, and what you value the most and proceed from there.


5 You Should Be Able to Figure It Out On Your Own

It seems like common sense that WE ALONE should be able to figure out our life purpose. Right? It's ours after all. 

But, sometimes we have a difficult time seeing it BECAUSE it's so closely connected to who we are. When people come to me looking to find their life purpose, I often give them a series of exercises. I ask them to answer a set of questions and I tell them not to spend much time worrying about the answers. Instead, I prompt them to write out the first thing that comes to their mind and send me what they wrote. When I reflect back my synthesis of my clients answers, a funny thing happens. More often than not clients have an Eureka moment where they finally see what their purpose is all about.

Solution: Find the support you need! Sometimes you need outside eyes to see to help you see within yourself.

So, if you've been coming up empty as you look for your life purpose, it's time to de-mystify your thinking and try on these solutions. Most important, though, is to start with what you LOVE. 


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