What's Your Purpose? 3 Ways to Identify and Live It

Thursday, June 10, 2021

What's your purpose?

Phew! Big question for a Thursday, right? You're probably thinking... my purpose is to live to see 5pm tomorrow so I can relax a margarita on the rocks (with salt) and some chips & guac. Or is that just me??

But really, this has been a question - and an entire topic, really - that has been on my mind for quite sometime. I think that natural question of "why am I here?" follows us around for most of our lives, and as we get older, if we haven't worked to fulfill our purpose yet - to do what really sets our soul on fire and what we believe we were put here to do - the question starts to nag at us. It wants attention. It wants validation. Like a hungry toddler, it wants to be fed. ;)

As I approach a new year (I turn 34 next month), I feel more called than ever to pursue my purpose. Julie Solomon, host of The Influencer Podcast, explains it best: passion and purpose are different. Passion is more temporary, the thing you use to express your purpose in the moment or for a little while. Your purpose is the thing that has actual roots, that helps make you... you. Now solidly in my mid-thirties (ack!), I'm acutely aware of how fast time actually goes, how precious it truly is, and how capable I really am. We are all capable. That thing you want to do? The thing that nags at you? The time is now to stop ignoring it... because now is all we have for sure. If you're looking for a sign: this is it.

So, what is my purpose (outside motherhood, because I truly feel being a momma is my deepest and most treasured calling)? I've had a sense of it almost all my life, but becoming a mother almost eight years ago solidified it (pretty cool how one purpose shone light on another!), and then the past year - all of the feelings and reflection that the pandemic brought forth - really sealed the deal. My purpose is to connect with others so we all feel a little less alone. In doing this, I hope to uplift, inspire, and empower people -- especially women. The way I choose to do this, and how it seems I've long chosen to do it, is through writing.

A few of months ago, my mom handed me a couple of boxes she'd held on to from my childhood. They were full of school papers, journals, stories and projects. I was blown away by how many of the things I found in those boxes that had to do with writing, with wanting to be a writer when I grew up, with wanting to connect with people and make others feel better. It was a reassurance that I was on the right path... that the grown up me was aligned with my childhood dreams and visions, pure and true as they were. That I had been listening to the quiet voice inside me (growing louder by the year) and was on the right path.

This voice, this purpose, is why I started this blog almost four years ago. Has it always been consistent? No. Have I fulfilled my purpose through this blog? No. But damn, it was a good start. It was me putting myself out there to begin. It was a wonderful first step. And then there were babies and a day job and family and friends and life... and I don't feel ashamed for any of that "slowing me down" in my exploration of this purpose. Instead, I choose to look at those things as fuel for the fire, as inspiration.

What's next? As my babies grow, and gain and relish in a bit more independence, I'm feeling ready and called to commit more time to writing, to connecting, to building community. I'm happy to say that, for now at least, I think this blog will be a part of that. But I also have ideas and plans that go beyond this space, and I hope you'll join me in that growth. I am so grateful for you for being here, for taking your valuable time to read this and anything I've written, and I hope more than anything you connect with it and think: hey, me too.

If you're feeling a little lost when it comes to identifying your purpose (and believe me, you have one... likely more than one!), here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Reflect on who you were as a kid

I personally believe there is so much insight into who we really are and what we really want to do to be found in our childhood. Of course, we learn and grow and change - we're supposed to! - but our interests, talents, and things we were drawn to as a kid have a lot to teach our adult selves. So, as yourself: what were you like as a kid? What did you enjoy doing? What brought you genuine joy? What were your strengths? What did you want to be when you grew up?

OK, I'll admit: as a really young kid there's a video of me stating that when I grew up I wanted to be a "ballerina and a mommy." The ballerina thing... that wasn't going to happen, ha! But the yearning to be a mommy has never wavered. :)

If you're thrown off course remembering that you wanted to be an astronaut or Indiana Jones or something as a kid, go a bit older. What about when you were 10, 11, 12? My answer all through upper elementary, middle, and high school is that I wanted to be the editor of a magazine. I also toyed with the idea of becoming a school counselor. Put those two things together and they pretty closely reflect what I've identified my purpose to be! Crazy, right?

2. Write your story... 10 years from the future

So many of us, especially if you're close to my age, find ourselves at a crossroads. We've studied a certain thing, or started a certain career, or we think we might know what our purpose is, but we have no idea how that really plays out or what that looks like in real life. Maybe we even find ourselves in a position in life we never thought we'd be in... and we just don't know the way out. First of all, believe me, there is one. More than one, in fact. 

Here's an exercise that I started doing and that I've found helpful when you feel stuck and unsure of what your next steps should be: write a story about your life... ten years from the future. Example: "She was a month away from turning 34 when she could no longer quiet the voice inside her that called her to connect with others, and make an impact on the world, through writing. On her 34th birthday she promised herself she would start by committing three hours two days a week solely to writing, pitching her writing, and building her portfolio so she could reach as many people as possible. By 35, her website was built and she had written pieces for her top three "dream" publications. By 36, she branched out and began a podcast so she could highlight the voices of incredible women who had powerful stories to share." I mean... really get into it! 

If you could write your story, how would it read? Here's some news: You can write it.

3. Embrace your life as is, and then make a plan

We can get so hung up on the "should haves" and the choices, or maybe even excuses, we've made on our journey thus far that it feels like we're too far to make a different choice. We're not! You are where you are supposed to be... because if you weren't, you wouldn't be reading this. You wouldn't be ready and willing to find your purpose so you can fulfill it and live fully, and wholly, and joyfully. Your choices have shaped you; it's time to embrace them. It's time to thank yourself instead of shaming yourself so you can finally move forward. You cannot start this next chapter while standing in the last one. This next leg of the journey requires both feet in, not just one. 

After you've made peace with your journey to this point, make a plan. What steps will you take today to start? They don't need to be huge or mind-blowing or life-changing. It just needs to be ONE step you can take today toward your purpose. What will it be, and what will it take to make it? For me, it's going to be asking for help when I need it. It's going to be carving out time for myself. It's going to be being more unapologetic, more bold, more willing to take a risk. What about you?

If you've made it this far, I hope this has been a sign for you to value yourself and the unique things you have to offer to the world. There are so many people on this earth doing so many things, but not a single one of them is you. And the world needs you. 

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