Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do. There, I said it. Your purpose is actually quite simple, it’s to awaken. To discover and nurture who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. The more you do this, the more aware and present you become, which creates more harmony in your life. Everything else is your burning passion, your inspired mission, your job, your love-fueled hobby, etc. Those things are powerful and very worthy, but they’re not your purpose. Your purpose is much, much bigger than that.
My deeper understanding of purpose feels right in the soul of my bones. It diffuses the ache of separateness I experience when my work isn’t appreciated or when my efforts are overlooked or criticized. Sometimes folks will treasure your work, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes you’ll get the gig, sometimes you won’t. You’ll be on the marquee and you’ll be passé. You’ll be thanked and you’ll be taken for granted. You’ll give and you’ll get nothing in return. You’ll be “Liked” and you’ll be unfriended. That’s life. But, so then what? You have no purpose or meaning?
Absolutely, positively not. Can you see how tying your worth to that yo-yo circus will only make you feel depleted, depressed and even resentful? Anchor your purpose within, sweet friend. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself drifting out at sea again and again.
What if your purpose (or invitation) is to actually bear witness to your suffering? To honor and acknowledge it in order to move through it. “They” say that “suffering is optional.” But I’m not so sure about that. Plus, I’m not so sure that the people who believe this have truly experienced suffering. I may have agreed with this at one point. But that was before my experience of loss, sickness and cancer. Today, I think suffering is inevitable in some way. The trick is to learn how to move out of it, or at least make peace with it, once we get the nugget and are ready to apply the lessons. Note: Residual pain may remain, and that’s OK, but at some point we can begin to thaw it out in order to embrace our one great, brilliant life.
What if finding your purpose is about finding and nurturing yourself?
Not an external to-do or accomplishment, even if that to-do or accomplishment is the most important discovery of all time. Because if you are the one destined to find the most important ah-ha of all time, you will probably find it quicker and easier if you feel good, loved and happy. Start there. It’s that simple.
Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t love my job (or you) or that I’m going to quit in any way. I cherish my work and all of my readers. And it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start an orphanage or save animals or empower women or teach people how to file taxes. It means that you no longer need to connect your personal self-worth with a plaque on the wall.
Your self-worth has nothing to do with your craft or calling and everything to do with how you treat yourself and others.
I’ve met brilliant and effective activists who I have gallons of respect for but who are dirty messes inside. Mean messes. Bitter messes. Sad messes. Jaded, cranky-ass messes. And guess what? Their reach and impact reflects their attitude. Imagine what they could accomplish if they moved from loathing to love, if they knew that no matter how important their mission, their inner purpose matters even more. Folks are like plants, we all lean towards the light.
You are the light. Your inner purpose is to connect with that light. Everything else will follow in time