Far too often a hear people say that they lack a sense of purpose. They experience a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness they don’t know how to fill. It’s like a gaping wound. Sometimes they tell me they feel like they should be grateful because, on the outside, many appear to have everything and yet they still wonder “is this all there is?”
I know that feeling all too well.
For many years I’d get up in the morning, have my breakfast, go to work, do my job, go back home, have something to eat, watch the telly and go to bed.
Looking back, I can hardly believe I lived like that for so long.
At the time, I was still working with Alan, my life coach.
After some time working together he commented, “Your life will change. It will become a lot less comfortable but a lot more interesting.” In those days, comfortable seemed more appealing to me than interesting but, when I finally left my marriage aged 60, my life got very interesting indeed.
As I started building a new life for myself one of the things I did was setting up my own coaching practice using my experience as a Human Resource specialist and that was OK for a few years.
It wasn’t until, years later, I began to reflect on my marriage, what was missing, why I felt so unhappy and, more importantly, how I contributed to the state of my relationship that I noticed I started to get more enquiries from older women in unhappy relationships.
And that shifted something in me. Where I used to worry about where my next income was going to come from, I now began to feel a deep sense of purpose.
I understood that the pain and unhappiness I had experienced in my marriage were a gift I could use to make a difference to others.
And this is what I discovered:
When I live my purpose, every day is new, full of possibility that propels me forwards towards my BIG WHY. My BIG WHY is why I do what I do. When I focus on the present then I know that I’m shaping my future.
How does it affect my day-to-day experience?
Those setbacks that used to send me into a spin, for example my love-hate-hate-love-hate relationship with technology has completely changed.
Technology still has it in for me (I have no doubt it’s a personal thing) but I no longer panic and feel helpless and anxious. I wrote enough blogs for you to know what I’m talking about.
But my mindset has shifted as my purpose became laser sharp. When a setback occurs, techie or otherwise, I may sigh in exasperation but I know it’ll get sorted – and it always does.
My worries – all those ‘what ifs’ I’ve been tormenting myself with for such a long time have faded away.
A purposeful present cannot create an empty future. That’s just not possible.
So, assuming you agree with all this, how do you find your purpose? Here are some ideas:
- This exercise comes in two parts:
Think about what experiences caused you to suffer – from your childhood onwards.
Now think how you could use what you learned when you overcame your suffering to help another person. We call this ‘the wounded healer’ syndrome. Think buddies and befrienders who support people going through what you did.
- Think about what you love to do. How can you use it to make a difference? Here’s an example from Susan Jeffer’s book ‘Embracing Uncertainty’:
“If you love to cook, you can invite friends over for a meal. You might open a restaurant that brings people pleasure. You can help in a soup kitchen feeding the poor. If you love children, you could become a teacher or a mentor…”
- Think about what you’re good at that could help somebody, perhaps somebody who’s struggling with a particular problem.
So here’s the thing:
Living a life of purpose shifts your mindset from what you’re not getting to giving.
By the way, I really need to make this clear: the giving is fuelled, not by getting somebody to like or love you or because you think you should but by your purpose.
With love and gratitude,
P.S. My third book, ‘Open Your Heart: The 7 Secrets Of Strong And Loving Relationships’ will be launched on Thursday, 21 September 2017
P.S. I enable women build strong and loving relationships, first with themselves and then with others. That’s because your relationship with yourself shapes all your other relationships.
If you’d like to find out how you can do that email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE one hour exploratory conversation.