Do you ever think about the state of the world and think there’s something more important you could be doing? Yeah, me too. We are part of a generation seeking depth, meaning and connection; in a world that has for some time bounced in the other direction.
But how do we uncover our sense of purpose? How do we relate to our sense of purpose in a balanced way to avoid burnout or losing ourselves in the pursuit? How the heck do we figure out what we are supposed to do with ourselves?
Do we find our purpose? Do we create it? Does it find us?
There are many approaches to connecting with purpose. Some of them tend to make us somehow more anxious while others lead us to a balanced state of mind and mental clarity.
In a world where we are always “logged on”, we do need to put effort into connecting with our purpose. But it isn’t ‘out there’; our purpose isn’t something beyond ourselves that we must find. Through introspection and looking inward, we can usually find something that has moved us emotionally in the past that we can find deeper meaning within. Purpose is internal.
It’s also important to note that your purpose will shift and evolve over time. To expect that it will remain the same always is placing unnecessary pressure on ourselves. We change all the time. Why shouldn’t our purpose change?!
How I found my purpose
I started my entrepreneurial career at 12 years old after seeing a World Vision ad to sponsor a child, my teenage years were full of me building businesses and immersing in the personal development industry. So much so that I neglected my friends and those closest to me. Eventually isolating myself so far that I fell into quite a deep depression. I felt lonely.
But this was all part of the experience of finding my purpose. After experiencing depression it became obvious that community and facilitating spaces for human connection would need to be play a huge role in my purpose.
How to find your purpose
‘Ikigai’ means ‘reason for being’ in Japanese and can be represented in this Venn-diagram as a way to visualise it and make it a great tool.
As you go around the diagram, I invite you to really notice what answers are the first to come up. The answers that emerge before the mind gets a chance to jump in with all of the ‘shoulds’, ‘can’ts’ and ‘won’ts.’ This is what makes it tricky. When we start to intellectualise our purpose or ‘reason for being’ too much it can become inauthentic. Which may lead to us constantly needing to force things to happen.
Give filling it out a go, by writing down the first answers that pop up for you.
I’d like to introduce the idea of being and doing. Eckhart Tolle calls these our inner-purpose (being) and outer-purpose (doing). Some of us come to the point of questioning whether we should just sit down, meditate, achieve inner peace and trust that through my state of being I will be impactful. But then we end up seeing the world outside again and feeling that we must do something also!
What we do and how we be are two separate things, but both very important to have in mind. If I am working towards facilitating harmonious community yet so rushed will all the things I need to do that I forget to acknowledge my partner, don’t spend quality time with my closest friends and don’t have the time to connect back to myself. It’s not going to help me connect to my purpose.
We need to consciously be aware of both sides of the purpose-equation. What am I doing and how am I being as I do this? A good question to ask might be: once I’ve done and my mission is complete, how do I feel?
By bringing awareness to both the practical doing side to the equation and the more esoteric being side, we can make sure that even if we are struggling to drive the sales, raise the capital or grow the movement; we are taking care of our inner-purpose.
As our outer-purpose changes, our skill set develops and our interests change, our inner-purpose will very likely remain the same. This is your grounding stick and your pole for clarity amongst your work and the chaotic outer-world.
To get clear on what your inner-purpose might be, just ask yourself the question, “how do I want to feel once I have accomplished all I desire?” Then ask yourself, “If I could feel that way now, would I?” Can you?
You made it! So in closing, here’s 2 things:
- Explore the idea that maybe purpose might already be in front of you and is an internal thing. Go through the IKIGAI framework and see what answers emerge when you are truly honest and notice what comes up before the mind decides to play games!
- Ask yourself “how do I want to feel once I have accomplished all I desire?” Then ask yourself, “If I could feel that way now, would I?” Write down an ‘I am … (i.e. grounded, and sharing curiosity with all)’ statement that you can use as an anchor and reminder when you feel yourself going off path.
Al Jeffery is an international facilitator and communicator; assisting social pioneers and teams embody a greater sense of purpose and connection. Having worked with the likes of Apple, Google and Telstra among others, Al teaches mindfulness and vulnerability to create spaces for creative potential. Learn more about Al via his website or by joining the Realise Flow community.