The idea of purpose - having a meaningful impact that drives you from within - has been discussed for thousands of years. Why do what we do every day? What will it have all meant at the end of our physical lives?
These are big ideas, heady questions, and ultimately, there is not a “right” answer.
But, the need for a sense of purpose (for every human) remains to be crucial to our joy and happiness. This has been evident in research from the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Having it creates a sense of mission to do something worthy. It's your significant "yet-to-do" in life. Purpose integrates who you are with what you do. It inspires us to renew our commitments and stretch further to manifest them, which is why having a sense of purpose in your work is so powerful!
There are books, courses, and speeches calling us to fulfill our purpose. I am part of that community that is calling you to stand tall and unapologetic in your pursuit of a meaningful impact, but, how do you find it? How do you know you’ve landed on it?
The reason you have those questions is that we were not taught to fulfill our purpose. We weren’t taught to have a meaningful impact.
We were taught to obey-to follow the rules, fit into the group, hide what made us stand out, and do what everyone else did.
We have been conditioned over our lifetime to look outside of ourselves to do what “needs” to be done. We look to our parents, our teachers, the celebrities, and coaches in our lives to know what to do.
We have been told the right way and the wrong way to be in our bodies, to dress, to talk, to create, to believe, etc.
The mixed messaging we get (especially as women) is to follow your dreams-but, not like that! Be the mom you want to be, but not that way. Have your cake and eat it too - but do it with a socially acceptable body. Not too much emotion, and not too little, because you don’t want to come across cold..
Ugh-sigh. My friends, it is no wonder we are exhausted and clawing our way out of anxiety attacks, depression, and burnout!
Looking outside of ourselves to know what to do, how to behave, when to speak our minds, getting permission to live life…
This is perfectionism wrapped up in packaging that makes it okay to stay stuck. But it’s all perfectionism!
Perfectionism isn’t delivering a perfect project or having a flawless daily life because you are a magical being. Perfectionism is a dungeon of rules, obligations, and expectations that we unknowingly agreed to, adopted, and internalized as the only way we can show up and survive. The dungeon looks like pretty Instagram pictures, smiling toddlers, happy endings that don’t include the heartache, and the grief and pain of transformation.
Perfectionism is forgoing your needs so the people around you can be comfortable, happy, and appreciate you for being need-less.
It’s forbidding us to ask for help so we can actually take care of our minds, bodies, and spirit.
It’s never finishing (and never starting) the things calling to us because it will receive criticism. We will be told it’s not good enough, and we cannot handle one more thing that tells us that.
So, why don’t you know what your purpose is? Why is answering the question “What is the meaning of my life?” so fucking hard??
It’s because you have decades of practicing, and never allowing yourself to actually answer the prerequisite questions to that question.
What do I want?
What do I need?
Because the purpose is found in listening to your inner wisdom. You find and engage with the things that piss you off, and also the things that make you weep from their beauty.
Purpose is what you get only after you have learned about the values that are non-negotiable to you. You derive your sense of meaning and purpose from answering your voice within.
But, you have been trained to disregard that wisdom. You have been taught to trust everyone else- they know what’s better for you than you do.
You have been taught to accommodate, adapt, and forgo to support others getting what they want.
You may not even believe you have an inner voice, a knowing-but you do! I promise she’s in there, buried underneath all the B.S. in a world of scarcity and woundedness.
For so many of my clients, it can take months to dig up that inner voice. We peel back the layers of expectations from a family of origin, partners, and children. We dig up the obligations that distract and pull attention away from the passion projects that have been on the backburner for years, or even decades. We dissect the rules that have governed what they are allowed to do, and what they are called to do.
So, how do you find your purpose? How do you know if you are living the life you are meant to live?
When you do, you no longer wonder about this.
When you have the clarity of self, when you are clear about what’s yours and what is theirs - you stop taking on other people’s shit. You stop believing that your worth and your value is based on pleasing the people around you. When you know your purpose, you can handle the messiness, because the call to DO that thing is so strong that you are willing to let go of the flawless execution of a plan, and rigid ideas of achieving goals.
Perfectionism is learned. It’s years of practice and feedback that created patterns of thought and habits in your behavior.
We are co-creating experiences - your impact isn’t just about you! We actually touched on this in a previous podcast episode about Selfishness (episode 68).
So, your efforts to please people are based on other people who also don’t know what they want!! These are people you are bending over backward for (just to make them comfortable). You make sure they’re not mad at you and are getting exactly what they want. There is a good chance they aren’t on their path either. The pursuit of your purpose may be the catalyst they need to shift into a life that is fulfilling also.
You aren’t doing anyone any favors by ignoring the call within that there is something more for you. Your life can feel peaceful, energizing, and inspiring to you. You can be a mom, a partner, a student, a friend, an entrepreneur, a grandmother, AND still fulfill your purpose. You can have it all - but you have to move away from these fears of inadequacy, rigid plans, and strategies, and allow yourself to answer “What do I want? What do I need?”
You have to move through your perfectionist patterns of people-pleasing, procrastination, and productivity-based self-worth and accept and embody you are a human being. We NEED your full self, unapologetically and guilt-free, living life to your fullest every day.
When you’re pursuing your purpose, it feels uncomfortable for you and others at first. That’s not the same as hurting people though. Others being uncomfortable is not the same trauma, abuse, etc.
It takes trying things, testing ideas, getting curious, and listening to the inner wisdom speak up, and moving what doesn’t align, out of the way.
You have to give yourself time to slow down, and inventory what comes up.
Look at the things you were excited about when you were a kid, teenager, early 20s, etc., and list them all out. What is the theme?
For example, I thought the theme for me was entrepreneurship, but it’s actually community, organizing, and connections.
I want you to:
Identify the rules that feel oppressive and are not launching you into energy, and release relationships that aren’t genuinely interested in your authentic joy and fulfillment.