Though I hate to admit it, I spent years wondering what my purpose could be and having no idea how to find it. As I moved through my career, with each position I even tried to convince myself that I was on purpose, not wanting to face the possibility that I might be wrong. In truth, I had but a vague understanding of what the term “life purpose” meant. Furthermore, I had no clue what to look for or where to find ‘it.’
In truth, I had but a vague understanding of what the term “life purpose” meant. I had no clue what to look for or where to find it.
It’s hard to think about the time wasted.
And what if it was unnecessary? What if finding a purpose is not the answer?
Shifting our focus away from a purpose-seeking mindset can be difficult. A quick Google search on “how to find my purpose” will pull up an endless list of articles and how-to tips. The number of books available on the subject could fill a swimming pool with more published every day.
…so many of us continue to struggle with the concept.
The Truth About Finding Your Purpose
- It’s Hard
The idea of picking that one thing that will become your purpose is overwhelming and can set you up for living in a cycle of failure.
My friend, Keith, recently confided in me that his son, a freshman in high school, was feeling enormous pressure to pick a “path to graduation”, leading up to his course work for college. Career counselors and all, he just wasn’t feeling it.
We often put the same pressure on ourselves, assuming this next job or position will be the thing that gives meaning to our lives.
- It’s Frustrating
Pursuing a career path in the search of the thing that would give my life meaning was oftentimes frustrating. I could never be 100% sure that my current job was indeed my purpose. What if, in staying at my current job, I ended up missing out on my purpose altogether?
- Others Seem to Find Their Purpose So Easily
My friend Brooke has known since she was twelve years old that she wanted to be a teacher. As soon as she graduated high school she went to college, earned her teaching degree and, at the age of 22, had her own classroom. She has been a teacher ever since, loves every minute of it, and knows without a doubt she is on purpose.
Why does it seem so ridiculously easy for the Brooke’s and the Serena Williams’ of the world? Sometimes the ease with which others seem to find their purpose makes us question our ability to find our own.
What if We Flip the Script?
Hear me out—what if we ditched the idea of purpose altogether? What if we start seeing for what it really is…
What if we let go of the value we’ve placed on finding purpose and, instead focus our efforts on setting intentions, big or small, but definite?
Intentions soar where purpose fails because they put you in control. You are the captain of your own ship, in control from the very start. After all, intentions start within you rather than being something you stumble upon (sometimes, if you’re lucky).
This is why I believe setting intentions is so much more powerful than spending your life on a never-ending Easter-egg hunt to find an obscure purpose.
5 Ways to Set and Follow Intentions
Setting intentions allows you to focus on who you are right now, to recognize your values, the kind of life you envision for yourself, and the things that are important to you. Intentions help redirect your focus—how do you want to live the life that’s ahead of you, and especially your life today? What will you give your attention to this day?
You’ve read this far, so I believe you are ready to go exclusive via the intentions pathway. With that, here are a few tips to help you along the way.
- Frame Intentions Positively
Remember, how you speak to yourself matters. When setting intentions, frame them in a positive way. “Today, I will embrace calm” is much better than, “I will not allow myself to get flustered.”
- Intentions Should Be Fluid
The intention you adopt today is not set in stone. Give yourself permission to change your intentions if need be. If your intention for the first part of the week is to find peace in your day, by the end of the week you may need to shift to something like “I will take time to rest in the peace I have discovered”.
- Begin Your Day Meditating on Your Intentions
Taking time to sit quietly in stillness, with eyes closed and while taking deep breaths, can help set your intentions. Don’t just speak them (though you should certainly do that)—with each breath, practice visualizing some form of your intention…whatever that means to you. You’ll need to revisit your intentions throughout your day but setting time aside to meditate over them in the morning is a wonderful way to set the tone for your day.
- Embrace a Spirit of Gratitude
Be grateful for the opportunity to go through this process, to get to know yourself better, and for the progress you will make.
The more you practice, the easier it will get to set intentions and recognize forward motion, as you check off each accomplishment.
- Be Patient
Rome wasn’t built in a day and losing years of reliance on the idea of a purpose can’t be unlearned in one either.
Give yourself time to learn the art of setting intentions and gift yourself grace and forgiveness if you happen to fall short.
I hope this inspires you to put down the boulder of a purpose-driven life. There! I said it. Instead, take up the practice of mindful intention setting. I think you will find your heart lighter, your spirit more peaceful, and your vision for the future more hope-filled.
Try it and see.