Do a simple Google search for “life purpose” and you’ll find at least a thousand articles just on how to find your purpose.
But while most people have a lot of theories on finding your purpose -- from Steve Pavlina’s 20-minute exercise to Deepak Chopra’s 6 tools – not many talk about the “why” of it.
Why is it important to follow your purpose? Is there a deeper, evolutionary meaning to it or is it one of those “passed down” ideas that we accept without any qualms?
Is it “spiritual entertainment” or is it something truly necessary for our own growth and personal fulfilment?
One way to answer that question is by finding out what happens once you start following the path you’re “meant” to follow. Here are 6 things you’ll typically notice happening – take them as signs that you’re on your path to purpose:
Leo Babauta came up with the term “personal bubble” and it fits so well that I wanted to bring this up first. Your personal bubble is a small world you’re living in, it’s the centre of your universe. It’s about you – about your concerns around looking good, succeeding and pursuing all the pleasures you find tempting in life.
And because you make it all about you (albeit unconsciously), the moment someone says something “bad” to you, it hurts. You believe the words are meant to be cutting and take it personally.
Here’s another sign that you’re too much in your bubble: You don’t want to get out of it. You’re way too comfortable sitting in there, nice and tight, and moving on sounds way too uncomfortable because you might fail. And you don’t want to look bad, so you procrastinate.
You stop exercising, eating healthy, making new friends and so on. And the cycle repeats.
When you get out of your personal bubble, you start looking at things from a broader lens. It stops being all about you – and it’s no longer hurtful or confusing. You become less self-centered and start to see needs of other people.
A strange thing happens when you stop living by the books and the opinions of others.
You let go of attachments and imposed goals.
You start riding your own bus and leading your own journey.
Let’s face it – there isn’t a person among us who doesn’t have insecurities. Some are just better at camouflaging them than others. We worry about what others think about us, and whether we’re good enough, smart enough, strong enough – you know, the whole shebang.
As a result, you start doubting others’ intentions, yet at the same time seeking the same people’s approval that we’re worthy enough.
As you find your own true calling, you realise that these so-called obstacles are the way forward. Any need for approval is an opportunity to seek self-approval first.
Any thought of comparison with how others look, what they’re doing, how much they’re making… is a chance to appreciate that they are on a completely different path than you, and be happy for them. Wish them well and know that if they can be happy on their own path, so can you. It’s a choice you make once you embrace your own purpose.
Life’s short and we can’t be amateurs forever. Because if something doesn’t challenge you, how can it change you?
And here’s the best part: You don’t have to figure it all out at once.
When you’re driving in the night, your headlights only show you up to 200 metres of the road ahead. Still, you manage to reach your destination.
Taking risks work the same way. You start with the next best step toward your personal purpose. And the next step, and then the next – and the rest gets taken care of.
Here’s a common notion most of us have. We believe that it takes courage to take action.
In truth, courage first is a misnomer. You’ll never find the courage until you do it. Take some form of action. Even making a firm decision to act is a form of action.
Most people are waiting for courage to knock at their door – they are waiting for it to come so they can make their dreams a reality.
Sadly, they will be waiting for a long time. Because they’ve got it all wrong.
Contrary to what you’ve read or been told, action leads to courage. Motion leads to emotion. And not the other way around.
People who follow their true calling find this seamless. They say yes and work out how. Courage and confidence builds overtime, re-enforcing their decision to act.
Can I tell you a secret?
The cause of all suffering is not the events or what “happens” to us, but our thoughts around the events. We tend to internalise a lot of stuff, making it all about us.
Here’s a great way to find out whether you look at what you have, instead of what you’ve lost: In your quiet moments, what do you most think about? Do you think about how far you’ve come, or how far is left to go? People who’ve been there for you through thick and thin, or friends who’ve abandoned you? Your strengths, or your weaknesses?
It’s good to be aware of what’s gone – but it doesn’t serve any purpose to consciously invest time and energy into it.
When you’re on your life’s purpose, you simply acknowledge what’s not there anymore and learn to move on. You’ll find there is always so much to do, so much to explore, so much to give. It’s amazing how purpose makes your focus switch to what is from what is not.
I saved my personal favourite for last.
Here’s a pattern most of us follow: we are “assigned” imposed purposes by society, family, larger groups, friends, religion and so on.
These imposed purposes are based on other people’s needs rather than your own. They are driven by fear and ego. They drain you. They are externally-driven and most often than not, lead to a temporary satisfaction.
And here’s the thing: we’re conditioned to own the imposed purpose as if our own. Making a certain amount of money every year, following the footsteps of your parents’ career or achieving a certain social status to name a few.
True life purpose is freeing rather than imposing or obligating. It connects you to you and to others, effortlessly. It’s internally-driven, based on love, and frees you from other people’s expectations and energises you. For example, helping other people, following your creative expression and pursuing what you’re passionate about.
What else could change when you find your purpose in life? What would be different? How would YOU be different? Share your thoughts in the comments below.