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Debunking the life's purpose myth

How many times have you heard ‘what’s your life’s purpose?’ in your time? It’s something people can feel bombarded with or pressured to know the answer. But how many people do you know who’ve truly reached a great understanding of this in their life? Are you one of them? The truth is, the idea of having a single, burning ‘purpose’ in life is a troubling one for many people and can lead to feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy. It can have you thinking, ‘Why haven’t I found my life’s purpose? Does that mean I’m not living an authentic life? Am I going nowhere?’. Here, we debunk the life’s purpose myth and help you find peace with your life’s trajectory.

The myth surrounding your life’s purpose

There’s no denying, it can be truly inspiring hearing someone talk about finding their life’s purpose or their true passion in life. That’s why we hear it in movies all the time, or in motivational speeches. But the truth is, there are so many things wrong with the idea of a life’s purpose in today’s world.

For starters, we live in an age where we have more options than ever before in terms of education, careers, travel, love and more. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for people to have several different careers in their lives, for example.

If you haven’t yet found your life’s purpose, you’re not the only one. You’re actually in the majority.

It’s no longer seen as fickle to want to change your career at any stage during your life, to retrain for a new field, or to go back to school and train for another profession. The lives we lead today are immensely complex and simply can’t be summed up by one phrase or idea.  For many of us, even finding something we’re truly passionate about can be a struggle. You see, as we grow older, we change as people, our surroundings change, our life circumstances change, and our interests change. That’s why you’ll rarely meet someone who’s found their one true life’s purpose and is spending their lives living by that. If you’re someone who hasn’t found your life’s purpose yet, you’re certainly not the only one. You’re actually in the majority.

The harm of the life’s purpose myth

Although it can be inspiring, the life’s purpose ideal can also be incredibly troubling for a lot of us. We now live in a world where everything is a seemingly endless competition. Social media hasn’t helped this phenomenon, and your feeds are likely full of people proclaiming to be ‘living their best life’.

The new social media ideal of ‘living your best life’ can be a harmful one.

The idea that we are not truly living an authentic life until we find our passion or life’s purpose adds a huge amount of pressure to our lives. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, stress, and low self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important to debunk this idea of the life’s purpose and to focus on more realistic, attainable, and most importantly, individual goals for life, and look at it more like being on a path of fulfilment rather than an end destination.

The real question, and how to answer it

The real question isn’t some lofty motivational catchphrase about your life’s purpose. It’s this: What fulfils, inspires and motivates you? That might seem like a simple enough question to answer, but it can be deceptively complex. For many of us, what we want from the next ten years of our lives is very different to what we wanted a decade or two ago. As we age, our needs and wants change naturally. The life’s purpose myth can make us feel like failures when this happens, or even lead to many of us sticking to a plan that no longer serves us or brings us happiness.

Our needs, wants, and interests change over time.

We can also make the mistake of comparing our lives to those of others, and thinking that more money, a better job, a bigger house, or a new car are what’s important. To find out what you truly want from life, you need to stop comparing yourself to others and start asking these types of questions:

  1. What brings me joy?
  2. How do I cultivate more of that?
  3. Where do I want to be in five, ten, or twenty years?
  4. What am I good at?
  5. What people in my life support me to be my best version of me?

Once you’ve unlocked the answers to these questions and similar ones, to truly uncover what fulfills, inspires or motivates you, you can set to work on your goals for achieving these things, but most importantly make sure you enjoy the journey along the way! Of course, for a lot of us, answering these questions isn’t so simple. And for so many people, 2020 has been a year of setbacks, disappointments, and derailed plans. This can be incredibly disheartening and make us feel as though our goals are that much further out of reach. Whether you’ve yet to determine where you want your life to go, or you’ve experienced setbacks in 2020, there’s no reason to feel like a failure. Which leads us to our next point.

Work on setting goals to overcome obstacles

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a passion or a life’s purpose, if you are lucky enough to have discovered that and have the ability to live with that in mind. For many of us, however, it can be a struggle to know what we are truly passionate about and to make that an integral part of our lives. But how do we lead meaningful and fulfilling lives without a purpose or passion? How do we find our drive and maintain our motivation to live the best life we can? The key is uncovering what you truly want out of life – what fulfils you, brings you peace, or makes you happy – and setting goals to achieve it, but most importantly make enough space in your life to do more of the things that truly matter.

The key to achieving true fulfillment is sure set some goals – but be flexible, and learn to enjoy the present moment.

Unfortunately, 2020 has thrown a spanner in the works for many of us. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. The most powerful thing you can do to get back on track – or discover your track! – is to start making some small plans in light of the current disruptions you’ve experienced. That means reassessing your goals and being flexible about how you wish to achieve them.  Perhaps 2020 can bring us some valuable lessons to learn to slow down, to let go of controlling things we have no control over, being more present doing the things we truly enjoy, and being present with the people who matter most.

Given the current circumstances many of us are experiencing, it can be tough to see the light at the end of 2020’s dark tunnel. That’s where life coaching can play a powerful role. Life coaching is designed to help you unlock what you truly want, but most importantly, help you remove the obstacles that have been standing in your way. And nowadays, this is more crucial than ever. Life coaching can help you to overcome not only your own inner obstacles, but to overcome the new obstacles that you’re facing due to the changing world around you.

If you’ve experienced setbacks in 2020 and want to get back on track, or discover what it is that you truly want from life, consider embarking on our solutions-focused life coaching programs. To begin realising your true potential, get in touch with us today.  

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen