“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way” – Wayne Dyer
For years I have taught classes and spoke with people about their life callings and purposes for living. It’s a challenging topic to engage in because many individuals have no idea what they are living for or what their lives are truly about. And if you’re anything like I was, you lived a great part of your life for someone else versus living for yourself. That said, there can be complex layers to uncover prior to revealing the true source of the hinderance. Whether it stems from childhood rearing, which may generally cover all the issues that could exist, but not to negate the others, such as the fear of failure, ambitious distractions or bliss-less ignorance. They can all play a part in the demise of us setting personal goals or living a purposeful life that lines up with who we are at our core. Whether professionally or personally based, living outside your purpose just doesn’t feel right. Something always feels out of alignment or off kilter. So what does it take to get there? All I know is my own story.
It happened one day about ten or twelve years ago. One of my former pastors gave me a book that literally changed my life. Actually it wasn’t that the book actually changed me, but more importantly it was how it inspired me and resonated with the core of who I was and am today. I was teaching a class at my former church that involved leadership development for service and this book articulated a thought that spoke volumes to my spirit. I had no idea how this new revelation would impact everything about me, but it opened the door to many of my most rewarding experiences as well as many of my most difficult challenges. That said, although discovering your purpose will undoubtedly bring you the most joy in your life, it can equally bring you the most challenges. Typically because it is usually the road less travelled, therefore there might be a few naysayers living in your corner (including ourselves) trying to convince you why you should place that new mantle on the shelf and continue life as normal.
However, once you discover your passion for life, nothing is quite as exciting and all you want to do is begin the journey and see where it takes you. So as I was teaching this class to existing and new leaders within my church at the time, I was equally learning a great deal concurrently. I discovered many new things about myself, like my desire to really help people move from a place of ignorance to understanding and assisting them with the discovery of their gifts and talents. Additionally I discovered my propensity to understand why people (me included) put up walls or defenses about who they are. It was this book and class that led me on my journey of discovering my creative purpose.
Now I have added the word “creative” because we can all have purposes that may line up with each other, but what you have is unique to you and only you. In other words your creative purpose will open doors that are meant for you only and impact specific people who fit into your life’s journey and destiny. The key is not to shy away from it or allow others to talk you out of it. You must see the significance in what you do and realize the greater purpose for doing it. If not you will certainly end the journey prematurely.
Your purpose is like a leaf falling off of a tree, although it may have a similar shape as another leaf from the same tree, when it falls to the ground, the wind, it’s weight and overall makeup will cause it to fall in a different location even when falling from the same starting place.
For a moment think of all of the people who have impacted your life in a way that forced you to learn, grow and reflect on what is truly important to you. I have a few of them in my head as well and although each person may not have meant me well, at the end of the day I was placed in a position to reckon with what really matters to me. If it weren’t for them, I cannot imagine where I would be today. Well actually I could. Most likely I would have remained in a place of ignorance to things that I am now aware of, which has enabled me to continue help others more effectively, make better decisions and live a more meaningful life. So as I am grateful for those individuals who have blessed my life and continue to do so, I equally see myself as that person for others. And it is not whether I get confirmation from them of this fact or not, for it is knowing that I am living out my creative purposes, therefore I undoubtedly know it must be happening. It is also important to point out that living my purpose primarily has nothing to do with anyone else, so I remain content in the space that I currently live.
One of the most daring things that I did once I discovered my purpose was I quit my job of thirteen years. I was not unhappy and I had seniority at the company, but like that statement I made earlier about things seeming off kilter, I was there and there in a big way. It was time for a change and I was primed to make it. During that time, now almost nine years later it felt right, but it was equally scary. I did my homework on where I was going next, but there was still more unknowns than what was apparent to me. So I prayed, trusted my gut and took the leap. The rest is truly history, for not only am I closer to authentically using my God-given gifts daily at work, I immensely enjoy what I do and I have the wonderful opportunity to help people grow, and every once in a while I even get to travel the world for work that seems only like fun at times.
Now obviously I was not prepared to handle this type of situation overnight. It required many years for me to come to this understanding and to be ready for a decision like this. I can even say that I learned the hard way, because many years prior to this I did something similar that did not work out so well. Quite honestly it badly backfired on me, but it taught me some invaluable lessons. So I took what I learned and applied the lessons learned, but it all had a purpose and overall plan for what I was experiencing in that moment. And perhaps without the prior failure, my current career may have seemed like a long shot.
So today I am thankful for the many twist and turns that I have experienced in life. I am thankful for the many opportunities to discover something new, or rediscover something old that I missed the first time seeing it. Each occurrence has taught me many great lessons.
Discovering your purpose is like walking a staircase, all the steps are essential in order for us to arrive at the next place.
As you journey through life doing what you do, don’t neglect to realize a purpose for doing whatever it is. If you don’t, the meaning will erode over time like it never existed at all and you will find yourself only going through the motions. Perhaps there is a season for even this, but ultimately it will not satisfy your soul or give you fulfillment long-term. That said, never allow the potential of failure to persuade you from a goal that has significant meaning to you, or concede that mere ambition is the cure-all for success, for although it may take us somewhere, it may not take us where we ultimately desire to be. And lastly, living in ignorance will not release us from the hardship of ignorance, it’s just another hard road. Recognize that living your creative purpose lies in the balance.