I have been seeing many ads lately that entice with the promise to help me figure out or find my life purpose. They imply solutions that the teacher has earned through hard work... trade secrets that can be revealed in the form of a five-step formula to finding this elusive badge of consciousness or trophy of significance. Yet another external marker of "having my sh*t together"... Yuck.
This kind of one-up to one-down guru / influencer / expert / celebrity marketing uses subconscious scarcity and disempowerment tactics to sell. Not only that, but it also misleads us with its false expectation of simplicity and surety once we arrive at the promised land of purpose.
The thing is, purpose is not something that you accomplish. Purpose is not a place where you arrive. Purpose is a constant ongoing and imperfect orientation towards how you make decisions in life, which threaded together one after the next, outline a path. Purpose is a compass for your choices - not just for one choice, but for every choice.
I try to live my life on purpose, mostly. Purpose is a lens through which I view my life, a filter through which I interpret and integrate my reality. But it's not a filter that is always on. Sometimes habits and patterns overtake me. Sometimes I am too tired to resist.
The path to purpose is imperfect, and it can be rocky. If you are on it, you will inevitably fall off of it. You will need to pick yourself up again and get back to it. And that is okay.
Purpose is not a once and done sort of magic bullet to cure all the things we find unsettling in life. We need to keep coming back to purpose again and again. And with each cycle of getting lost and becoming found, we grow stronger and we go deeper.
Purpose helps us to choose where to focus our time and energy. It gives us a reason to say NO to things that are easy and familiar. It gives us a reason to say YES to things that are challenging or uncomfortable. Purpose is what calls us up to go beyond where we were; purpose is what calls us out to take a hard look at where we are.
Life purpose is a lifelong practice. It's not a destination you reach and then stop at. It's a neverending journey. We need to make purpose our practice, daily, weekly, monthly... the same way we might practice yoga or meditation or acts of kindness or thoughts of gratitude.
Stop pursuing a life purpose. Start practicing purpose in life. Purpose is not something you should feel pressured to chase. It is something you must feel called to choose.
And if you didn't choose purpose today, it's okay... tomorrow is another day.
If you're interested in embedding purpose as a practice in your life, maybe you are meant to join our women's retreat in Spain this summer: July 29 - August 5, 2018.