People talk about finding their purpose all the time. “If I only knew my purpose, then I could….” Well the truth of the matter is, if you’re looking for your purpose, you’ll never find it. Because your purpose is YOU! You are the purpose for your life, so you can’t go out there and find it. If you’re seeking purpose in a job or trying to find your purpose by following in the footsteps of others, you’re faking it. You’re either living life by default, or you’re living on purpose (like you mean it)!
So, what does it mean to live your life “on purpose?”
1. Know who you are. This, my friend, is the work of your life. You must bring awareness to who you are, and consequently who you are being. It’s a lifelong process. I’ve been doing it forever. Everything around you is constantly changing, so who you are is always being challenged by your circumstances (not changed; only challenged). But, deep down, there is an essential core being that you need to notice, nurture and grow. Get very intimate with that part of yourself because it is what you came here for. Sitting in meditation for ten-fifteen minutes a day is a great way to relax and ask, who am I? Allow the descriptive words to bubble to the surface. The ones that feel good to you are true. The ones that cause pain, like ugly, stupid, etc. are NOT who you are. In everything you do, build upon the TRUTH of who you are.
2. Say yes to YOUR life. Get YOUR life, not “A” life. Sometimes it seems easier to do what others are doing, more predictable (it worked for him; it should work for me too), but it rarely does. If you really want to climb a mountain, go do it. The only person who can keep you from it is YOU! You may not have all of the answers for how things are going to work out, but that doesn’t have to stop you from saying YES to the kind of life you want to live. We have to forge our own path if we want a life on purpose. It can be scary to say yes to following your dreams when you don’t know how you’ll meet the right people, get the money, find the time, or have the knowledge when you need it. But you have to take the risk, trust, and believe in YOU and your higher power to make it happen. Who better to believe in?
3. Learn from your judgments. Watch out when you are judging other people. Determining who you are (or who you “want” to be) based on what other people do or say is your way of denying yourself and taking on a persona based on what you see “out there.” Stop. Let other people have their experience in life, and you go have yours. Learning to accept all aspects of the people who come into your life teaches you to accept all aspects of yourself. We don’t avoid judgment just because it’s “bad.” We let judgment teach us how to let go of our own self-limiting thoughts and behaviors.
4. Choose things that keep you on purpose in your life. Begin taking personal inventory on the choices you make and whether or not those affirm or deny who you are at the core. Not right or wrong, just do they add to the truth of who you are or detract from it? Once you’ve gotten clear about who you are and you keep that ideal front and center in your awareness, making choices that support and solidify the beautiful, magical, wonderful YOU start to come easy.
5. Identify and eliminate things that contradict your purpose. Not everyone in your life is good for you. Some of the things we do and the people we hang out with we have chosen because they support the façade we created just to survive this life. Chances are, they might not be able to support the real You coming forth. And as painful as it might be, we have to let go of people, places even activities that don’t affirm who we are. Do it gently, with love and appreciation for the role they have played in your life.
6. Practice gratitude. Thank God every day for your life. Each day is a new opportunity to discover who you are and to allow more of what you love about YOU to come shining forth into the world. Even though you might not recognize it as such, your life is very important. You make a “difference” by being you, because no one else can do that. That’s what it really means to make a difference – be different. Gratitude comes from recognizing your specialness and giving yourself credit for that. It might not come naturally if you’re used to being hard on yourself. That is why we call it practice, so we can work toward it, a little today, a little tomorrow – baby steps.