The question of our life’s purpose starts early and innocently. It begins with a simple and harmless inquiry, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I have always envied those who knew the answer to that question. To have such direction so early on seems to eliminate a lot of stress and doubt. It is with questions like this, however, that we become conditioned to believe that our life’s purpose is directly tied to our work or that our purpose is singular and unchanging.
Growing up I thought most everyone had life figured out, their path was chosen and without question- they were well on their way to living out their purpose. For some this was true, I, however, was on the path that seemed to lead nowhere and had also conveniently lost my roadmap. My career goals were always in question and the jobs I chose were just that-jobs. My passion for things faded quickly and I was always searching for answers.
Cue in the revelation. I had listened to a podcast where the guest was talking about her struggle with the question of life’s purpose. The lesson she had learned was that her purpose was not related to a job or even one particular thing, it was in fact very simple.
The purpose of life is love. Love for others, love for yourself, love for the choices you make for your life. When you choose love, your life always has purpose.
With that one simple idea, my outlook on life had changed. It was a breath of fresh air to have been given permission to stop searching for my reason for life and to just start living it. Yes, I can see how this idea sounds too straightforward and overly cliché, but it has proven truer than most other things I have learned so far in life.
When we attach purpose to things-a job, a person, a title, we start to believe that thing is the end all be all of life. If there is one solid lesson I have learned about life is that change is constant.
What if one day we decide we don’t want the career we thought we wanted? That motherhood wasn’t the only end goal? Does that mean we lost our chance of having a purposeful life?
A few months back I had a conversation with a friend who was feeling unfulfilled in her job and was lacking motivation for the things that once drove her. I told her that maybe that phase of her life, that thing that used to light a fire in her, was no longer meant to be. Naturally, she questioned me because she believed this was what her soul was made for. In which I asked her,
“Do you really think our souls are made for only one thing?”
At one time, you loved something or someone and it gave your life meaning. You invested time, energy and love- and in turn, you learned and grew from that experience. It wasn’t wasted, it wasn’t wrong, it’s time simply came to an end. You gained the insight and growth you needed and there’s nothing more for you there. At least not right now. Right now it’s time to move on to the next chapter, the next calling, the next thing that sets your soul ablaze. We must remember to stay true to ourselves, enjoying the experience for however long that purpose fulfills us.
Your purpose my dear friend is to love the life you live and live the life you love (thanks Bob Marley). In life, there’s always more to love and to learn from. Your purpose is ever-changing because you are forever growing.