In the spirit of bottom line on top (a business term which means, give me the most important information first) feel free to click here to get straight to the point of what purpose is. For those who are interested in stories, feel free to read my thoughts and story I have for this subject below.
I’ve had many conversations with individuals over the years about purpose – what it is and what it isn’t. Most of the conversations were in the context of discussions with others in attempts to work through and discover what their purpose in life is. During these conversations, I identified an emerging pattern. This pattern is that most individuals struggle with clearly understanding what purpose is, let alone attempting to discover and define their own purpose.
I recently had a conversation with an individual who I would classify as being stuck in a position that was causing them to manifest an unhealthy pessimistic attitude towards life and others. Of course, this was my personal assessment, perhaps they may have thought differently. Yet, it appeared that this individual was not happy with their current position. Psychologically speaking, it seemed as if the individual wasn’t consciously aware of the negative attitude that they had toward themselves, toward life and toward others. As the conversation unfolded, I paid very close attention to the language used. In doing so, their choice and expression of words led me to conclude that they were stuck and could see no way of getting out of their misery, or at the least, no way that they would want to consider (perhaps in another blog post I can elaborate on this point).
I could easily relate to their story, though I didn’t have the opportunity to share that (I was mostly just listening; I did little talking). I, too, once held a similar position to this individual. One major component that helped me get out of my position was discovering and clearly defining my purpose. Thus, in my conversation with this individual, I led with the following question: Have you ever thought through and spent time with discovering your purpose in life? This individual’s response was, “what is purpose? I don’t even really know what that means”. This wasn’t a formal session with one of my clients, but rather a spontaneous conversation that occurred in the wild, so, I simply suggested that perhaps they start with that question, “What is purpose?”.
Many people start with the question, what is my purpose. In my estimation, the question that first needs to be addressed is: what is purpose?
“Purpose” can be defined either as a noun or verb. Many individuals start with the definition of “purpose” as a verb. In this tense, “purpose” is aligned to the idea of a personal aim, goal or objective. My first suggestion is to define “purpose” as a noun instead. In this tense, “purpose” is the reason for something to be done, the reason something is created or the reason for which something exists.
Attempting to understand the word purpose first as a verb could prevent one from developing a clear understanding of what purpose is. This is because when one is expending cognitive resources (mental energy) thinking through the question of what purpose is, most of the time an individual is unconsciously trying to define what their personal purpose is. Psychologically speaking, attempting to clearly define and understand both questions simultaneously will likely leave an individual cognitively depleted and perhaps emotionally frustrated. It’s extremely difficult to cognitively focus on two major questions at once. This is why my suggestion is to first slow down and focus on clearly understanding what purpose (noun) is, and then work through the daunting task of what is my purpose in life (verb).
Thanks for stopping by and reading through my thoughts on purpose. If you have any questions about purpose feel free to send me an email or message. In addition, I started a mailing group that will allow me to send out future blog posts, YouTube videos and perhaps worksheets. For those who are interested, you can sign up by filling out the form below.