Disclaimer: Today’s post is a long one. The purpose-passion conversation can be a loaded one so I’ve divided this post into two parts. Ready? Let’s go.
There’s nothing I love more than an enriching conversation on the fascinations of exploring our purpose on this earth and the passions we discover along the way. What I am noticing is that when it comes to the word ‘purpose’ some of us either shy away from using the term, some of us avoid it all together, and some of us haven’t really stopped to explore what living it really means to us. So what I’d like to do with you here today is take a step back and open up a dialogue about the word ‘purpose’ and our perception of it. We’ll also talk about our passions. Some of us know what our passions are and excitedly live it every day. Some of us may find it intimidating or even mysterious as we question it and look ferociously to find it. And some of us are actively immersed in exploring our passions and allowing it to be revealed day by day. No matter where you’re at on the purpose-passion continuum, we’re going to do a bit of exploring some food for thought today.
The other day, the lovely Kate Watson referred to me as an “expert on purpose”. Although flattered by the comment, something about hearing that made me want to downplay it a bit. I have strong beliefs of what purpose means to me that I live by and incorporate into my life’s work but I wouldn’t say I’m an expert. Just when you think you have it all figured out, life teaches you a new lesson and just like that, you’re a perpetual student. Purpose, as it relates to our existence and why we’re put on this earth is something that is constantly unfolding and revealing new layers of depth that is new to me. That is the very nature of living with purpose; it is constantly unfolding, switching directions, and taking new shape. Our purpose is a string of moments happening in our lifetime that when pieced together reveals the who, the what, and the why of our lives.
The words purpose and passion didn’t really enter my vocabulary until about five years ago. I discovered a passion and that passion evolved my purpose. But the truth is, I have always lived my purpose since the day I was born and I have been living my purpose ever since. When I worked in the corporate world in a job I didn’t love, I was living my purpose. When I was let go from that corporate job and scared out of my mind wondering what I would do next, I was living my purpose. Starting a new business despite every reason not to, I was living my purpose. Writing these words to you with a candle next to me flickering while I sip on ginger pear tea, is my purpose right here in this moment. Through good and not so good times, we are always living our purpose.
Living your purpose won’t always be warm and fuzzy. We are always in our purpose, even in the tumultuous times. Many of us think that until we have a new job/business that we love, a successful romantic relationship, more money in the bank, then we will be living our purpose.
But what if your purpose was to be in the soul-sucking job? To be unemployed? To be in the toxic relationship? To have a negative bank balance? To be reading these words right now? Because these are the experiences that stretch you, prepare you, and guide you into the next chapter of your journey and thus deeper into your sense of purpose.
Purpose is a funny thing; it is a made up of both the life we find ourselves in and what we consciously decide to do with it. It is both the light and the darkness of the human experience. I think for most of us , the word purpose can be so intimidating especially if asked the question: ‘what is your purpose?’ If the answer is “I don’t know”, that can feel really scary. Similarly, if we believe we know the answer to that question, there’s always a doubt lingering in the background that sounds like “what if I’m wrong?” or some version of “I’m not good enough”. To that I say, there is courage in learning to live in the unknown. We don’t always need to chase down the answer anxiously to “figure out” what our purpose is. This only eludes us as we attach ourselves to any and every thing just to free ourselves from being in the unknown. Perhaps our purpose for the moment is to live in the mysteriousness with curiosity to explore what we believe in. The answer will reveal itself through the moments we find ourselves in and through the moments you actively pursue. It can come to you on the yoga mat, while reading a book, in mid-conversation, or sitting at your desk.
So the next time someone asks you “what is your purpose?” Turn to them, smile and say: “to be here with you”.
There is so much more I can say on the topic of purpose. It took me a lifetime to learn and I suspect it will take the rest of my life to continue to learn. Our purpose is in continuous motion, always unraveling and revealing.
Now I will flip it over to you. What does purpose mean to you? What sort of thoughts does it bring up for you to hear the word ‘purpose’? Share your comments on the blog!
Stay tuned for Part II of the purpose-passion conversation.