Does Your Life Purpose Look Muddy?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret I learned in my coach training program. Your life purpose isn’t what you DO. It’s not your job or your role as a mother, wife, father, or son. It’s not the volunteer work you do or what you do for fun.
Quite simply, your life purpose is to BE the fullest expression of you.
Awesome. WTF does being the “fullest expression of you” mean?
It means living according to who you really are, without fears and without blocks. It means living and honoring your values. It means being the most and closest to your true self that you can be. All the other stuff—what you do—is an expression of your life purpose.
But let me say it again to be really clear: you’re real purpose here on Earth is to be you. No one else can do it for you. And if you try to be someone else, the world is missing out on the gifts you have to share that are unique to you.
It sounds simple, right? I hope it takes some pressure off of trying to find the exact right job, career, vocation, place to live, etc. But BEING you is actually a lifelong process that takes some excavation and boulder removal. This is where fun and creativity come in.
Most of us experience an onslaught of cultural, familial and societal beliefs that tell us who and what we should be in order to be successful (and if you’re lucky, happy). In the face of this pressure and the fear of not being accepted, we learn very early to cover up parts of ourselves that may not be deemed acceptable to a parent, a beloved teacher, your best friend, etc. And fear of losing that love and acceptance keeps us from fully embracing who we are. And so we get stuck and the world looks pretty muddy. If you’re reading this, I bet you have a painful awareness of what “stuck” looks like and feels like. It’s not fun.
The good news is that by committing to a process of exploration, experimentation, and fun, you can peel back the layers to get to your core you. One of the tools I have used and found to incredibly helpful (in addition to a shit-ton of therapy) was working my way through The Artist’s Way with a friend.
Rather than bludgeoning myself with the 95 ways I’ve screwed up my life, The Artists’ Way lays out a process of creative discovery that is based in self-compassion and fun.
Yes, fun. And compassion.
You don’t get closer to who you truly are by working more hours and slaving away to someone else’s concept of “success” or by being mean to yourself.
Instead, the process of peeling back the layers that have crusted over to make you blind to who you really are requires courage to try something new, compassion for things feeling awkward, and a healthy dose of fun to raise your energy level and keep you engaged in the process. Without compassion for yourself, you’ll remain stuck and muddy and swirling in a spin cycle of “shoulds.” And “should-ing” yourself doesn’t lead to clarity. Try this out, just as experiment.
What’s the most recent thing you told yourself you “should” do? It can be anything from something mundane, e.g., “I should clean my bathroom” to something big, like “I should find a new job.”
Say very sternly to yourself: “I should_________.”
What’s your energy level? Be honest. How much do you want to do the thing you just told yourself to do?
For many of us, what we experience is an internal groan, a slumping of the shoulders and a big sigh. Not a lot of positive energy behind that—because there’s also this tiny voice that’s likely saying: “I should do x, y,z , but I don’t wanna. That doesn’t sound like fun.” Or: I should do X, Y, Z so that ___________ (I make so-and-so happy, so I look like a grown-up, because my boss asked me to and I don’t want to get fired, because I’m afraid if I don’t, no one will like me).
Now, try replacing the word should with “could.”
I could clean the bathroom or I could ________ (rattle off other things you could do).
What happens to your energy level now? For many of us, we feel a little lighter because we are now giving ourselves a choice. And the reason that’s important is because: choice = freedom = more energy = more clarity
And clarity is what you need to get through the mud in your brain so you can get closer to who you really are.
So, for the next week or even just a single day, experiment with replacing “should” with “could” and see what happens to your level of energy.