The myths we tell ourselves about purpose
We all know the story. It happens in so many films. There’s a man or a woman longingly searching, waiting and hoping. And then finally, one day, they bump into their Mr (or Mrs) Right.
It’s such a common tale and we’ve learnt to accept it for what it is: fiction. The stuff of rom-coms. A cosy fantasy.
Just bumping into Mr Right…. Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack in Serendipity
But when it comes to talking about purpose and finding it, we end up falling for the same myth, just in a different form. We believe that one day we’ll ‘find’ our purpose and everything will unfold from there.
As with rom-coms, the reality is a little different. So here are some of the myths about purpose we’d all do well to forget:
Your purpose has to a big thing
It can feel like the sense of purpose we’ve been searching for must be a big thing. Something world-altering and mind-changing. But it’s easy to overlook the purpose that exists in the everyday. It could well be something you’re doing already, without realising it. In fact, it’s more likely that you are already doing something related to your sense of purpose, just in the process of being yourself.
You’ll have a moment of revelation
Lightning will strike, a golden opportunity will come up, it will just ‘click’. Or maybe it wont…. Sometimes a sense of purpose is something that comes with time, a gradual realisation or a process of sifting and sorting.
Everything will fall into place once you * know *
Just as Jack Kornfield writes in After the Ecstacy, the Laundry, even if you have a moment of enlightenment, life goes on as before. Knowing what your purpose is in relation to life and work is only the first piece of the puzzle. The next stage is takes action and it doesn’t always fall into place immediately.
You should drop everything to follow your dream
Yes, you should be willing to commit yourself and to put consistent time and effort into reaching your goals. But it’s a mistake to focus everything on one dream. It’s like expecting Mr Right to satisfy all your desires, when, in reality, we need friends and family and outside interests to stay sane through it all. Life is a balance.
All you need is purpose
Just like the saying ‘All you need is love’, there’s much more to finding fulfilment in life than finding your sense of purpose. A sense of purpose is a strong starting point, but knowing who you are and what you can contribute is a crucial next step. (As well as the less sexy elements, like how and where and who you work with.)
Finding our sense of purpose in life and work can be a slow burn. And when we’re surrounded by myths about quick fixes and revelations it can be disheartening. But, as with the movies, the reality is very often much more complex and much more interesting.
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