I've read of many ways to look at one’s life Purpose. Some believe you have one Purpose and that stays the same throughout your life. Some believe Purpose can and most likely does change as you grow older and as your life changes. Some believe life Purpose is a kind of job you have or a field of work. Some don’t really believe in life Purpose. And I’m sure there are other viewpoints, too.
This is what I've come to see about Purpose. I’ve been a professional coach for fifteen years; and, I’ve taught a ten-week course for the same amount of time that dedicates one whole class to discovering and understanding Purpose.
I see Purpose as both constant and changing depending on how you’re looking at it.
How I initially work with Purpose with my leadership clients and students:
We have an essential nature — an essential Self. Self is not a thing and we can only know Self through consciously experiencing the quality of feeling of the experience. We can get a little more focused on the quality of the experience by re-experiencing moments of beauty and connection in life, but also by honing in on what we love to do — to “do” because we begin to feel this Self when we are creating and relating to the world in some way.
It is through relationship with the world that we know ourselves as Self.
So in this exercise to suss out Purpose, we look closely at how we ‘feel’ when we are engaged in something we love — not emotions but the feeling state of the experience. And we look at things we love because we when we engage in those things that cause us to know we love them, our essential Self is present.
The thing about Self is that it is unchanging. It is essential by definition, meaning it is the essential nature that you are, who you are at your core. So when you come to know the qualities of your nature, you discover a kind of tapestry of feeling that gives you a good sense of Self. Here’s the piece about Purpose, though. When you do things you love (how we came to know the qualities of Self), by doing those things you are living your Self.
Living who you are at your core IS to live on Purpose. What more fundamental Purpose could you be living than to live as who you really are?!
Can you feel the power of this? To live as who you truly are is the Purpose of your existence. This is Being Purpose.
So on one hand, there we have it. This is all we need to know.
Here’s another way to look at Purpose from a more choice-based perspective:
As I wrote above, we find the way to describe this tapestry of nature by looking at what you love. Consider this for a moment. Think about all the things you love to do — things you really love to do, not things you’ve been taught you should love. Consider this list. How would it feel to do only what you love for work and hobbies? Some say that is an impossibility, but just consider it for a moment. And consider that you could find many things to do that you love over your lifetime and how they might change from young adult to middle age to older age.
Can you feel the sense of a changing Purpose here? A Doing Purpose. This Doing Purpose changes because the actual things you are doing for work change based on the different things you come to love, where you are in your life, etc. The Being Purpose never does change and by choosing things you love throughout your life, you provide the channel for your Self to continue to express into the world.
Purpose can come through as working with a specific group of people, or offering a specific kind of opportunity, or even expressing self through in different ways.
So in this way, Purpose can be both unchanging and changing at the same time. Who you are at your core does not change and living who you are as Being Purpose is unchanging. What you do as you express your Self, your Doing Purpose, though, can and usually does change.
I really love working with clients and students on Purpose. When they see their qualities of Self, their Essence, (I also call this Soul), they light up because, of course, it FEELS like them. They have a tangible way to sense into how their nature feels, which gives them something to work with that is liberating rather than rigid, as well as instructive in choices they can make to align their work and lives more closely with their true nature.
We can find joy in living our Purpose when we let go of a more rigid idea of trying to find the ‘right’ Purpose. Even when we are engaged in what we love, we have more mundane things to do to support that Purpose. We might not ‘love’ doing these things, but when we know they are done in service to our Purpose we can find a lightness and acceptance in doing them.
Ultimately, we know we are living Purpose because of how we feel. We don’t always feel ‘good’ and life isn’t about feeling good, but we do feel ‘right-aligned’. It’s like a mirror shining life back to us through the prism of Purpose.