Finding Your True Purpose
I was slightly worried about calling this article “Finding your true purpose”. Even to my coach and therapist ears it does sound a little woo-woo. In the midst of dealing with work and bills and family and friends, you could ask who has time for finding anything other than the TV remote and the bottle of wine in the back of the fridge at the end of another long and tiring day? Forget that whole purpose nonsense.
But if you’ve been looking to change job or career but don’t know what it is you really want to do; if you’ve been feeling a bit restless and not really living the life you want; if you’ve put some of your life on hold while you’ve raised a family and suddenly realise that now the kids are growing up you don’t quite remember who you used to be; or if you have an idea of who you want to be and how you want to live, but fear is holding you back, then believe me - getting in touch with your “purpose” is a good place to start.
In plain speak, finding your true purpose means finding something that really fascinates, intrigues, excites and fulfills you. Or blows your hair back, as an old, dear and very eccentric friend used to say. It’s most likely a job or career, but it could equally be a hobby or volunteer work, or travel or learning something new; in a nutshell it gives your life meaning, drive, and overall va-va-voom. As author Jen Sincero writes in her book You Are A Badass, it’s about finding “something that makes you want to carry a horse up a hill,” and then doing it.
Your true purpose is your ‘why’. As in, why you get up in the morning. Because, to summarise Nietzsche (and those are words I don’t often write), “when you know your why, you can tolerate any how”. Most of that ‘why’ is to do with connection, of feeling connected to a greater community, the greater whole, the wider good.
My mentor and the founder of RTT, Marisa Peer, talks about the rules of the mind, one of them being that all humans crave connection and fear rejection. Connection to a community has helped the human species survive and evolve. And recent research shows that longevity has a lot to do with how strong our social connections are.
So what has connection and rejection got to do with life purpose? Well, think back for a moment to when you were a child. What was it you really wanted to do? Did you have an ambition or childhood dream to be something or do something with your life? Maybe you wanted to be an actor or a writer or an astronaut or save the whales. And then some well-meaning adult come along and said, “No, Johnny, you’ll never be a dancer/writer/professional footballer,” or “No Susan, you need lots of money and connections to build your own rocket/zoo/pottery workshop”.
As children, uninhibited by societal rules and mortgages, we generally followed our passions – we moved towards what we felt connected to. Until someone told us that somehow it was wrong, or out of reach or unavailable, and then we were faced with rejection - rejection from our parents, peers, and the community as a whole. Rejection is debilitating; it clips wings and stifles dreams.
Granted, being an actress or writer or footballer is competitive and many never make it to the top of that profession, but cutting off that ambition before it’s even had a chance to sprout and grow is not helpful, even if adults believe it is important to keep children grounded and realistic. Sometimes I’ve noticed that raining on someone’s ambitions is really just “jealousy with a halo”.
I often give RTT sessions to clients looking to discover their life purpose, and I’ll share some of my tips with you here to get you started on the path to finding out what it is you really want to do, need to do and are meant to do with your “one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver, The Summer Day).
Don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and know exactly what you want to do and how you’re going to achieve it - or maybe you will and then congratulations! Rather see this as a gradual process of discovery, trying on some new ideas and gradually narrowing down your focus to the one thing that will make your life sing.
Be as free with the following exercises as you like. There are no right or wrong answers:
What did you want to do or be when you were a child between the ages of 6 and 14?
What changed between then and now?
Can you remember anyone or anything that was said to you to make you give up on your dreams? Was it true?
Now look at your list and think about what those childhood ambitions represented. If you wanted to be an actress what was it that appealed – was it the idea of applause, fame, or something else, like a desire to express emotions creatively?
Now think about what other jobs or avenues you could explore that would give you the same level of fulfilment.
If you wanted to be a lawyer but now think it’s too late to retrain, is there some other option to take a look at, like becoming a magistrate? This is just an example but is all about opening yourself up to the possibility of new opportunities.
Take a new piece of paper. Now ask yourself: What would I do/be/try if I knew I couldn’t fail? List as many things as you like. It might be something big and bold like “I would quit my job, buy a boat and sail around the world” or something smaller-scale, like “I would learn ballroom dancing”. This list is yours to complete exactly how you like. Don’t edit yourself.
Now look at your list and circle the top 5 things you would do in order of what is most attractive to you.
What big or small step could you take today or this week or this month, to move you in the direction of ticking off those items on your list?
I find that if an idea for a job or hobby, or something else, keeps coming back to me, like an itch I can’t scratch, then this is a big clue. It took me three years from the time I first saw the opportunity to train as an RTT therapist to the time I signed up. During that three years, I kept going back to the website and reading about the course, feeling deep down that something about this work really felt right.
And if you don’t know exactly what it is you want to do, it’s okay to try on a few ideas, the way you try on clothes before buying them. Some won’t be a good fit, but others will. It’s all about tuning in to whatever it is that feels good, feels right and fits perfectly.
Article By: Dawn Quest, Rapid Transformational Therapist and Coach
Dawn Quest is a Rapid Transformational Therapist and Coach based in Tunbridge Wells. She offers RTT and coaching sessions in person and via video link, for a wide variety of emotional and physical issues, including finding your true purpose.