Have you ever known someone who seemed to be crystal clear about their purpose in life from early childhood? Annoying isn’t it? Seriously, most of us have to work a little harder to identify direction; in fact, some struggle an entire lifetime to find their way.
While there is no shortage of advice on how to find and achieve this seemingly elusive objective, the underlying truth is always the same – you are the only one who can give purpose and direction to your life.
In order for the link between purpose and emotional resilience to make sense, it’s important that we’re very clear about exactly what it is, and to do that we’re going to take a look at a few other terms often interpreted to mean the same thing.
- Meaning: Special implication or significance of something.
- Purpose: The reason for which something is done.
- Passion: A strong feeling for, or enthusiasm about doing something.
- Mission: A task or important job.
Research has consistently shown that having a purpose larger than self is a key component to effectively overcoming adversity and helping you to avoid becoming discouraged or overwhelmed when faced with a problem or hardship. When you have an anchor to guide you it serves as a foundation for decision making and priorities. Short-term setbacks have far less impact on the quality of your life and during tough times, you can draw on your conscious commitment to sustain you.
Clarifying Your Purpose
Many people have at least a glimmer of awareness of their life’s purpose within their inner being. It often feels like an attraction or an inclination that continues to pull at you. Sometimes it’s right in front of your eyes but you don’t allow yourself to see it, like when you’re hunting for your missing keys and then discover that they’ve been right in front of you the whole time.
The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, and to have it make some difference that you have lived at all. ~Leo Rosten
Your purpose can be as complex as starting a foundation or as fundamental as being the best parent you can be. Some people define it as a calling to spirituality and see themselves as part of a divine plan. It could be driven by the need to overcome a physical impairment and serve as an inspiration and guide for others with similar afflictions, or to build a business that provides a product or service that will solve a problem for others. Many look for ways to use their life experiences to have a positive impact in their community or to in some way change the world for the better.
One mistake people often make is relying on the opinion of others to find a “worthy” purpose. The problem with this is that there will always be someone to tell you that your course is wrong and why another path would suit you so much better, and of course, the first time you experience difficulties pursuing your objective you’ll naturally be inclined to think they were right after all. True motivation comes from within you, and this is where your passion for a thing will provide the fuel to keep moving forward. No one else can do that for you.
Whatever you do don’t get hung up on labels or comparing yourself to others … if it takes you some time to become clear about your purpose make the most of the journey. What’s important is that you have something bigger than yourself that gets you out of bed every morning and into life.
Passion is Your Fuel
A question often asked is which comes first, purpose or passion? Opinions differ, but I believe that more often than not we identify our purpose through our passion.
For example, my purpose is to inspire others to accept the power we each have to create our own life experience by cultivating the habits of emotional resilience. I was aware of that passion for years before I finally became clear about this being my direction in life.
So what if you can’t come up with anything you’re passionate about? A lot of people get stuck on this question because they’re looking for something profound (or impressive). The keys to your passion can be found in your emotions and in the choices that you are making every day.
- What activities do you love doing more than anything?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What activities do you long to do more of?
Another reason some have trouble finding their passion is that it’s been effectively buried in a pile of responsibilities and commitments. If you believe this is the case for you, then you may have to work a little harder to identify and make room for your passion in your life.
Ultimately it’s about What Matters to You Most
Your purpose gives you a foundation through which to filter all your decisions to determine whether your actions will conform to your values and priorities. In other words, it becomes a map to guide your life. Regardless of what it is, once you are fully committed, you will discover personal power, courage and strength you never knew you had, making it far easier to rise above life’s challenges.
Your Turn: Have you found your purpose in life? If not, are there things you are passionate about that could evolve into your purpose? What are you doing to clarify your purpose and incorporate it into your life plan?
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.