What am I meant to be doing with my life? What is my true calling?
Are these questions taunting you? They have been taunting me for a long time.
We are not alone in seeking these answers—so not alone, in fact, that there is almost a mini-industry around the topic emerging from the wider self-help business. There’s a wealth of articles, books and programs out there promising to help us figure out the answer to this seemingly all-important question. The answer that will—finally—bring true meaning to our lives.
I became a little obsessed with this idea and have been looking for my own life purpose through my work. And drawing the conclusion that if my work isn’t making a “meaningful” contribution to society and making my heart sing at the same time, then I’m not truly living a purposeful life.
In seeking the answer I have considered various options; I am still considering various options. I don’t yet have any definitive answers. And, to tell you the truth, I am weary of wondering what the definitive answer might be. This quest has been going on for far too long now. It would seem to be an unsolvable riddle and I’m becoming less and less concerned about the supposed solution. In fact, I’m giving myself permission to drop the question altogether.
What I’m quietly coming to realise, is that the answer doesn’t matter all that much. Because the true value of our lives comes from how we live them—how we do what we do, rather than what we actually do.
We give meaning and purpose to our own existence. And we get to decide how we do that.
Even if that “deep and meaningful” insight does arise, it arises from within ourselves—not from an outside force. For some people the insight may feel dramatically external, but that is an illusion. If we come to know that we are meant to do a certain thing, that knowing sits inside us. We have merely started paying attention to it.
This new insight is but a thought that we now empower by labelling it as a belief: “This is my life purpose.”
But that thought can arise quietly and uneventfully too. So quietly that maybe we don’t pay it enough attention. Just because it’s not jumping up and down and waving flags at us, doesn’t mean it’s not the right answer.
What transforms the thought, “This is something I feel drawn to,” to perceiving this thing as our life purpose is the choice to either give it credence or dismiss it as folly.
We can simply decide that “working with animals” or “being the best godamn parent I can possibly be” is our life’s purpose. Just decide—and by honouring that choice through our everyday actions, it becomes so.
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