In last week’s blog article (My 3-Item “Reset Mantra” When Legit Trying is Too Hard), I wrote about remembering your purpose, with the point being that no matter what, your purpose can’t be taken away from you. It is still a keystone of your identity.
But what if you don’t know what your purpose is?
Here are a few questions that can guide your thinking. Know that your purpose doesn’t have to answer all these questions, but considering all these questions should show you your purpose. Also, don’t stress about it. This isn’t a “final answer.” Just pick something to move forward with, for now. You’re allowed to change your mind.
- Is your job personally fulfilling?
- Who depends on you?
- What do you do that brings you joy?
- How do you impact the world?
- What wouldn’t happen if you were no longer here?
- What do you love to give?
- What do you want to accomplish more than anything else?
Did you figure out a purpose? I hope so! If not, read over these questions again while being kind to yourself, in a way you’d be kind to someone else. If that’s no help, ask a close friend to answer these questions for you. Make it a discussion. Pick something together.
So you’ve got a purpose. Now what?
Let it lead you.
You may have heard me talking about knowing your objective. “Objective” is the main “want” that an actor chooses to guide them through their character’s story. Every action is guided by that want. Your purpose can do the same for you.
In any moment, whether big or small, when uncertain about what to do, ask, “Which action better serves my purpose?”
When you’re trying to put things in perspective, or when you’re just trying to let something go, ask yourself, “Does this even matter to my purpose?”
That’s a little cheat I use to handle my body image issues. I look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, “Does being thinner matter to my purpose?” (It does NOT!)
Then, remember that thing I say about never minding that my high school soccer team was horrifically terrible and always lost? I just asked myself at the end of each game, “How did I play today?” and when I knew I did my best in each moment, I felt I did win! Because that’s all I could actually control.
You can ask yourself at the end of each day, “How did I play?” But instead of “play,” what’s your purpose? How did you *that* today?
How did you serve? How did you inspire? How did you repair appliances? How did you stock shelves? How did you parent?
How did you live your purpose today?
Did you do your best in the circumstances of the day? Did you take every opportunity? Did you keep yourself ready for when an opportunity arrives? Did you make yourself better at your purpose?
So you know, sometimes letting yourself rest for the day is the best thing to serve your purpose over the long term. (I’m officially giving you permission.)
Times are weird, but you do still have your purpose, and you can still win, every day.
“Each man has an aptitude born with him. Do your work.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
For more on soccer, theatre, and objective, read my book, Talking Splat: Communicating About Our Hidden Disabilities.