Why Unrealized Purpose is Painful
Many of us feel compelled to make a difference with our lives, to have an impact on the world. In job satisfaction surveys “make an impact” shows up in the top five things people find important in career selection today. Often we believe that in order to matter, we have to do something BIG and important. We must stand out.
From childhood on we notice the ones who get all the attention. People who are “visible” as athletes, actors, singers, and even business moguls all lead the charge to importance. In our culture making an impact is synonymous with fame, money and great humanitarian deeds.
Up until we’re 25 or 30, we make choices about careers, partners and pastimes, hoping they provide this feeling of purpose. We might even chase fame and money for a while.
By 30 or 40, if we’re still trying to figure out our purpose, or are feeling afraid we might not have one, it can cause a great deal of uncertainty and discomfort. The dangling carrot of purpose becomes a thorn in our side. If you’ve reached middle age, or you’re getting close and you still feel like your sense of purpose is unclear, it’s easy to feel disillusioned, maybe even a little angry or frustrated with yourself. I get it. No one wants to be invisible.
Our confusion may even bring up questions like: Am I the only one who doesn’t know my purpose? Or, Without a purpose, do I even have a reason for being? Do I have worth if I don’t make a noticeable mark? What if there is no reason for me?
Without knowing it, we attach our potential for having an impact to our sense of worthiness. Our sense of purpose may be the single largest defining aspect of our identity, especially when it’s attached to what we do.
It’s important that we gain perspective and first understand that a certain part of our desire to do “good,” is every human being’s need to feel alive, valuable and integrated. Maintaining our identity is paramount to our feeling secure in our being-ness. This goes back to survival instincts when to exist, one must have an identity, a self that matters to the external world.
We develop this identity through the roles we inhabit. We define who we are in relation to people, places, things, and circumstances. And without them, we feel unmoored, like a ship out to sea.
Eventually when we experience loss in our lives we learn that we are not these things. Change always gets the upper hand whether we like it or not. It forces us to re-examine and hopefully come to realize that we are more than what we’ve surrounded ourselves with – that our identity is just an illusion based on what we think about ourselves and the world around us. But still we tend to hang on to the idea that we have one true purpose (role in life) that can give us the opportunity to solidify the identity we unconsciously carry about who we are.
But I want to ask, What if we don’t?
What if your life from inception until now was the whole point? What if the thing you think of as purpose has already taken place in thousands of moments? What if it is happening right now?
If you swap the common expression up just a little, from “life’s purpose” to a “purposeful life” than you can stop looking ahead toward something that will create or affirm an identity for you. In this way, you can just ease into what you are doing right now and focus on being present more in the midst of your purposeful life.
Because right here and right now is your greatest potential for impact.
In the present there are different questions to ask like:
Who is near you right now?
What do they need?
and What can you offer?
That’s all there really is to it. So you can relax; you got this.
I hope everyone has a really great remainder of your week! I love you all, near and far…