What's my purpose?



So there I am, sitting in a therapy session when my client asks me this question; “what’s my purpose?” I can almost imagine what I might have felt like if I had been posed this question a few years ago: sweat forming on my brow, stomach starting to twist into knots, hands starting to shake. This is a big question, some might even say the biggest question that we will ever ask of ourselves. A few years ago I might have heard someone ask me this question and just panicked - in large part due to the fact that I was asking myself that very same question and drawing blanks. What I know now that I didn’t know then was that there may just be a way to answer this question, every time…

Why purpose is important?

Knowing why you want to do things in life is a significant part of why you might or might not be doing them. Sports are often used as an analogy for life, so to borrow that comparison; if you had no purpose in your actions you wouldn’t be playing basketball, you’d just be dribbling. If you had a purpose, like playing basketball, your dribbling of the ball is meaningful. Maybe you’re waiting to drive hard to the paint for a quick lay-up (that’s a sports thing, right?) Maybe you’re wasting some time looking for someone who is open so you can make a pass. The reason behind your actions is what makes them your actions and not just things that happen. The difference between having a purpose and not is like the difference between just dribbling or playing the game…

How can purpose be discovered?

Ok great, having a purple is important, but how do I figure out what my purpose is? Finding your purpose in life can seem like a daunting prospect; I mean, what if you get it wrong? Would you whole life be wasted walking down the wrong path not finding the mystical “it” that you are supposed to be doing? Well, that would suck. But let me ask you another question; what if life is less like a play where if you forget your lines you ruin everything and instead is more of a choose-your-own-adventure book? You remember those, right? The books you would read and at the end of the page you’d be left with a choice; something akin to, “if you want to follow the mysterious dragon turn to page 56. If you instead choose to get back in your spaceship and try another planet turn to page 92.” In these books the story that you are telling is changing with every decision you make, life does that too. It is only in the looking back over the course of your life that you may be able to puzzle out the purpose that you are already living - a purpose you have created all on your own without ever realizing it.

Maybe there isn’t some specific and individual purpose that The Universe has for your life and you get to make it up as you go. There is nothing that says you have to discover a purpose from somewhere else, perhaps you are more powerful than you believe and get to make your very own purpose, create your own destiny. You get to pick what you like and want and then pursue that. This line of thinking leads me to this final point…

When purpose meets passion

My dad often said that if you find a job you love you’ll never work another day in your life. While I know that he was using some hyperbole to sell the point, it nevertheless means something real and true for this conversation. When you find something you enjoy, lean into it, do more of it, maybe try to find a way that this thing can make you an income. (Important caveat here, please don’t follow this advice if the thing you enjoy hurts yourself or others, ok?)  Purpose and passion doesn’t just have to be about work, it can be about your leisure time or a hobby or building relationships with friends and family. 

When you understand the importance of having a purpose, put in the work to discover (or create) your own, and lean into it you end up with a fulfilling life experience. Maybe that will last for a lifetime or maybe you’ll need to do it again tomorrow. But either way, finding or creating meaning for your life is better than not, at least in my experience.

If you want to talk more about finding the purpose in your life, feel free to contact me 512-931-4801