Do You Have a Life's Purpose?

Photo Credit to Eric Magnuson for "Freedom" - https://flic.kr/p/5GGybv

On the pursuit of happiness, you might be wondering "What is my life's purpose? Why am I here? What does it all mean?". Those are some pretty stinkin' big questions and if you are not careful, it's easy to get swept away in existential thought overload.

Well, the good news is you most definitely have a purpose. The even better news is you get to decide what that is! After all, it is your purpose.

Why do I think everyone has a purpose? Everyone has free will and is capable of living on purpose... therefore everyone has a purpose. Logic-ed!

Your purpose can change over time, at one point in your life it might be to contribute as much as you can to your workplace. Later on it may be to raise confident, kind children. After that, it may be to share your passion for interior design with the world on youtube.

My point is, you get to choose, and all the dots along the way contribute to the overall picture of your life. There is a common thread that weaves it's way from purpose point to point that will create a wonderful tapestry. It's just that you can only see how they all relate in hindsight. It doesn't have to be this all or nothing big-scary thing that you have to discover.

OK great. I have a purpose. How do I know what that is? 

Like I mentioned above, the cool part is you get to choose your purpose.(Side note: if you believe there is fate or destiny behind your purpose - you can't go wrong with choosing since it's inevitable that you'll figure it out anyway!) When you've really taped into what your intuition is calling for you to do it will feel resonant. There are no wrong answers and over time you can continue to hone in to something truly authentic.

When you act in alignment with your purpose, it will feel really really good. You may get goosebumps or a high of excitement or just want to shout from the rooftops how awesome the thing that just happened was. For me, when I'm on the right track to discovering a purpose, I'll get a boost of energy and excitement. If I'm doing something I have already determined is a purpose of mine, I'll feel love, peace and wisdom. Complete trust with myself and fulfilling the purpose I am bringing to the moment. It feels right.

If you are trying to figure out what your current purpose is, it may take some experimentation. Keep moving, keep breathing, keep doing. Follow the things that are fun, exciting, and energizing. Turn away from the things that are tiring, troubling, and boring. Schedule time to actually do your favourite things.

Your purpose usually involves something you are bringing to the world.. how do you like to help people? What are people coming to you for? What feels good in your exchanges with others? How do you make others smile?

As you start to curate the things, relationships, and habits you have in your life, you'll start to live more purposely and it will make it easier to discover your purpose. You can also identify a purpose for each area of your life, what do you bring to the table in your work, at home, with friends, in your community etc., They may have a common theme which you can combine, or they may not.

My current purpose

When you have a good idea of who you are, how you are showing up in the world and how you want to continue to contribute, it will be helpful to create a purpose statement for yourself.

For example, currently my purpose statement is "I am the fearless wisdom that teaches women to shine bright."

Each word in my statement has been carefully crafted to mean something particular to me. When I go into situations where I really want to share my gifts I think "fearless wisdom" to keep me on track so I don't shy away. I can apply it to different situations - at a Ladies Learning Code events I may be literally teaching women to code and learn a new skill, during figure skating coaching I encourage my skaters to believe in themselves and while I'm life coaching I'm helping my clients become the best version of themselves they can be.

One recent situation that I used this purpose was for a bachelorette party. We were going to a Burlesque studio to learn a dance. I knew before going in that this would be uncomfortable for most ladies. First of all, not everyone is a dancer and used to picking up choreography... let alone sexy burlesque dancing where you need a certain amount of confidence to pull off the moves.. and not everyone knows each other well.

I decided to go in with the intention or purpose of helping the room feel more comfortable and confident in their moves. Once in the studio, it was exactly as I predicted, tons of nervous energy. The instructor really should have been the one to put everyone at ease and make it a comfortable environment but she didn't actually say anything - not even an introduction..

It was going to be up to me. I decided to stand near the front and really try to be confident in the dance and my own moves - even though I've never moved like that and would definitely feel very un-confident having to do them in any other setting.

I was hoping my confidence and nonchalant attitude would help the others get into it. I tried to make jokes and lighten things up when I got the chance. It wasn't perfect but I'd say I made some sort of impact. And while I was channeling my "fearless wisdom" helping the others "shine bright" it really didn't take any extra thinking or worry, it just flowed.

To wrap this up, your purpose isn't this big mysterious thing you need to go and find or pay someone to tell you. It comes from you and is truly what you want. It'll take practice to hear what your heart is telling you, so keep at it. Keep doing your favourite things, keep sharing them with others and I promise you, you will be living on purpose - you will feel it.

Bonus Exercises:

Need some homework to practice finding your purpose? Try writing these questions out by hand and writing down the answers you feel in your gut.

What was the last thing I was really excited about?

Why was I excited about it?

What is my favourite way to help someone?

What feels good, easy and effortless?

Who am I jealous of? (Jealously can reveal inner desires).

What do I love to do, just because?

What kind of impact do I want to make?

What do I want to be known for?

I'm sure you can think of a few more along these lines...

 

Your Intuition vs. Your Ego

This is a new concept for most people as we don't often take the time to really dive in and listen to what is going on inside of us.

The fact is, many times we can be internally conflicted. Having a desire to try something new, say take singing lessons, but also having so much fear and internal chatter about why you can't do that new thing that you are paralyzed - "you won't be good enough", "people will think you are a bad singer" etc. The two sides of this tug-of-war is your ego and your intuition. Many other names could be used for each - such as inner critic, saboteur, vampire voices, superego for your ego and inner wisdom, your captain, your truth for your intuition - just pick the term that you like best.

Your ego is the part of you that wants you to be liked, be successful, fit in, taken care of and actively goes out of it's way to give you "helpful" thoughts to make sure you are safe. Thoughts like 'you need to be thinner', 'people won't like you if you do x..', 'people will think you are stupid, if you ask that question', etc. These thoughts are doing a great job of keeping you safe from hypothetical ridicule and were also necessary when you were a child to act in ways your parents approved of.. but now they are less than useful and are actually holding you back from what you truly want.

Your intuition is your inner wisdom, the part of you that knows what you truly want and need and just wants you to feel at peace. Often thought of as your gut or heart instincts. Your intuition has a softer voice than your ego and it can be easier to ignore at first. But over time, if you are not listening, your intuition will start to make a fuss and you'll have more internal resistance about where you are. You'll have a strong longing or feeling that you need to be doing this other thing, but your ego is going to justify reasons why that doesn't make sense. That feeling isn't going to go away until you start trusting and listening to your intuition.

Taming your Ego:

Great, so all we need to do is ignore our egos and do what our intuition says to do? Yes, but it will definitely take some practice to get there. We often don't realize our ego is criticizing us until we take a step back and look at our thoughts. The key to getting out from your ego's grasp is to be able to identify when it is speaking, and justify why that doesn't make sense.

Ways to know if your ego is currently beating on you:

  1. Do you feel bad for no apparent reason?
  2. Are you making excuses or justifications for not doing something you want?
  3. Are you holding some part of you back in your work or social interactions?
  4. Are you worrying about some future event?

In these situations it is helpful to write down the thoughts that are coming up. You can even draw a picture of your ego or 'saboteur' that is speaking these thoughts to you. Giving it a face and a name will help separate the thoughts from you. Meditation is also very helpful to observe sabotaging thoughts.

Once you've identified the thoughts you can come up with valid arguments for why they have absolutely no merit. "Thank you for your concern Mr. Ego but that thought does not hold up because....".

There are other techniques as well for toning down your ego but the important parts are to call it out and move past it.

Tuning into your Intuition:

Many people are not in practice of listening to their intuition. Their ego has been so bossy for so long that they've accepted its criticism as truth. Your intuition has all the love and knowledge in the universe and will tell you exactly what you need to know when you talk to it.

You can start to practice listening to it by practicing 'gut' decisions. Instead of pondering for a long time, when someone says "What do you want to do tonight?" or "What flavour of ice cream would you like?" just pick whatever comes to you first. Practice it in the little decisions that don't have true consequences. The more you do this, the easier it will be to answer questions with your gut instinct. You'll be able to fill out personal questionnaires quickly because you just know the answers already.

Another exercise for connecting to your intuition would be to simply ask it a question. Sit quietly, with your feet on the floor, place your hands on your heart or over your gut (where ever you connect to more), close your eyes. Ask your question and WAIT. Don't try to answer it - that's the ego... just wait for what comes to you. It will feel peaceful and resonant. You may have to start off with yes or no questions and work your way up to open ended.

Another popular exercise would be to journal to your intuition. Write down a question and again wait for the answer to come. Write down your next question. Have a conversation with it. If you are not used to connecting to your feelings and inner wisdom this will feel cheesy at first - the response from your intuition may seem cheesy to you as well.. but it will be real.

Responses I've received from my intuition have been "go help people" when I asked "what do I do next?", and "to be happy" when I've asked it "what do I want". Messages that may not mean much to outsiders but have actually created a lot of inspiration and movement in my life.

I'm also new to learning about intuition and ego but I find it fascinating. These are the two biggest concepts lately that have really helped shape my behaviour and move me into showing up in the world in an authentic way. I'd love to hear about your experiences with either of them and if any of the exercises worked for you. Leave a comment!