Clearing by Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.
In the course of the last two years my original goal of FI (Financial Independence) by 2022, expanded beyond the financial aspect:
My 5-year goal is to design a life I don’t need a vacation from, to feel fulfillment and enthusiasm every day, to let my creativity flow, to be in touch with nature and to be part of a bigger purpose. – The Goal is Dead. Long Live the Goal, 10.10.2018
This last one, the P word was a daunting task to say the least. I’ve been ignoring it for years, keeping myself busy with the activities at hand – study, work, side projects, getting on with life. It was only recently that I slowed down, took a deep breath and I finally listened to the nagging voice: What are you doing? Where is it all leading to? What’s your purpose?
I didn’t have an answer. What’s the big, grandiose life purpose? It was vague and confusing. Isn’t this something for visionaries?
Enter Jake Desyllas, host of the Voluntary Life podcast. In his recent Your Purpose in Life Can Change episode (16min), Jake brought the much needed clarity to the subject. Stop reading, go and listen to his podcast right now (also available on Youtube). I am going to outline the points I resonate with here.
My idea of a BIG LIFE purpose
That’s how I used to look at purpose: A big, meaningful mission I’m given for my lifetime. I need to find it and achieve it. A nirvana state where I have a single focus. Working towards my it brings fulfillment and joy, I feel like I belong to a ‘bigger purpose’. It’s dynamic but it’s peaceful and still at the same time. The unimportant fades away, I only use my energy on what matters to me.
Tada – BIG LIFE purpose – overwhelming, dontcha think?
What a purpose really is
c. 1300, “intention, aim, goal,” from Anglo-French purpos, Old French porpos “aim, intention” (12c.), from porposer “to put forth, to design, to intend, to propose,” from por- “forth” (from Latin pro- “forth;”) + Old French poser “to put, place” – Etymonline
The word purpose is a combination of “forth” and “put, place”. In other words “to put forth, to design, to intend“. There’s much more dynamic than I thought. It’s not something given, it’s something I decide to put forward in motion. It then becomes an aim, intention, goal and I go for it.
So my purpose is entirely self initiated. Phew … what a relief !
By the way, maybe this blog is a vehicle for finding purpose or it’s my current purpose itself? I set it up to keep my eyes on a self-defined goal. Hm … It all makes sense now.
Jake’s view on finding purpose:
Being on a mission, having an overwhelmingly important project. One that you go all in on in your commitment. Everything else in your life has to revolve around that project or commitment. …
It’s not easy, it’s a big and ambitious goal. But having a purpose in life means being driven, having massive enthusiasm and passion for something, and internal motivation to do something.
I don’t see a purpose in life as being something that has to be about achieving something external and flashy. It can be a very personal goal to do with your relationships and building your family for example. – Jake Desyllas, host of the Voluntary Life podcast
That’ll do for a definition of purpose.
One big purpose or a series of purposes
I don’t know where I got this idea from – that the purpose is only one and there’s a way to get it wrong. It’s quite the opposite. The same way as I create a purpose, I can create another one, or slightly adapt it (that’s what happened to my FI goal). Inspect and adapt – that’s the name of the game.
In the podcast, Jake shares the series of purposes during the course of his life: growing a business, reaching FI, self-development, being the best possible partner to his wife and father to his daughter.
Life is healthier, richer and more varied and diverse if you have different missions you dedicate yourself to rather than just one. – Jake Desyllas, host of the Voluntary Life podcast
It ain’t gonna always be fun
Now – about the common misconception that once you know my purpose, it will be all smooth sailing from here.
Think about your purpose as having a massively important project in your life. Something that you dedicate yourself to. That means often you have to exclude other things of your life. It’s not peaceful and easy, you’re not blissful and content. It can be quite stressful, challenging and emotionally draining. It’s not necessarily fun on a day to day basis. – Jake Desyllas, host of the Voluntary Life podcast
Learn to say No
My best skill when pursuing your purpose is the ability to say No. I’ll have to say NO to many things. If I am focused on something in my life, this means I have to exclude a lot of other potentially interesting opportunities. I’m not available to just go with the flow on anything that comes up because I’m on a mission. I’ve got a purpose. I’m trying to do something.
Driven people tend to focus on something to the exclusion of other things in their life. If you identify a purpose in life, it doesn’t
mean you’ll be super balanced. Actually, it can mean you know what you’re trying to do more clearly and therefore you have to say no to a lot of stuff all the time because you’re moving towards your purpose. – Jake Desyllas, host of the Voluntary Life podcast necessary
I hope that some of these thoughts can be helpful for you in taking some of the pressure off about finding purpose in life. It has been a long struggle and a lot of thinking has gone into it. But here is the good news:
You don’t have to find it once. Why not have a purpose in life now that might not be the same purpose in your life 10years from now? Why not take the pressure off and choose something you can feel massively enthusiastic about and get really, really committed to now? And then have a different phase in life later. Jake Desyllas, host of the Voluntary Life podcast
So, what is your next purpose?