Finding Life's Purpose

What is your life’s purpose?

Know those people who knew what they wanted to be at the age of 10 and were hyper focused on their purpose in life and made it all look so easy? If you are anything like me, that is not what happened. Most people struggle to find their purpose in life and live the life that found them instead of the one that fills them with a sense of purpose.

There is nothing wrong with working for the sake of a paycheque so you can pay the mortgage and pay for your kid’s hockey or dance class. Your purpose isn’t always in your paying work.

What is Purpose?

The dictionary says purpose is the reason something exists. According to the University of Minnesota, purpose can guide life decisions, influence behavior, shape goals, offer a sense of direction, and create meaning. Other definitions I found are, a goal or intention, a plan to do something, the things we strive for, and determination. My favourite definition, purpose is the reason we do something.

Simon Sinek wrote a whole book on finding our “Why,” He says our, “WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.” He helps people understand why they get up, go to work, and find passion in their daily lives to help organizations move forward. His popularity is a sign that people are seeking purpose, a reason for living, and to know what they do matters.How can you know what your purpose is?

You feel Jealous

Have you ever cringed with discomfort and envy when someone told you what they did for a living or how they were changing the world? Do you wish you were? When I met someone who was a writer, I’d have a gut wrenching physical reaction.Yet, I would push the idea away and continue to live the life I had, not the one I needed.

Is it a Hobby?

Do you spend your free time on the fringes of your purpose? My hobbies were like putting a toe in the water of storytelling. It wasn’t a waste of time because the skills I taught myself, came together to enable me to design digital magazines and write the stories to publish inside of them.

Do You Feel Joy?

When we feel joy, we are living within our purpose. When my kids were growing up, I felt joy every moment they were with me. For a period of time my only purpose was to be a mother and I loved my time with my kids.

Then they grew up and needed me less and less and I needed a new purpose. Finding my purpose wasn’t easy.

Do you Lose time?

When you are engaged in doing something do you lose track of time and become so focused on what you are doing, you forget to eat and push until you fall asleep? When I’m writing, I lose time and I forget everything around me because I am getting the thoughts out of my head and onto paper.

.What did you do as a kid?

Think back to when you were a kid, spending time on your own, what did you do?

I spent a lot of time alone as a kid because of where we lived and my personality. When I think back to how I entertained myself, the ribbon woven throughout my childhood is story. I was always telling myself stories.

Recently, my mom and I were going through my memory box to purge stuff from her basement and she found these books I’d written in elementary school. The memory of writing them made me happy. Thankfully, I was 6 hours away watching her go through the box via zoom, because if I’d been there, we never would have gotten anything done. I would have sat down with those stories to relive them and been inspired to go upstairs and write.

Scared to Fail?

Is there something you wish you could do, or you want to do, but you don’t because let’s face it, if you fail then that’s the end of a dream? Sometimes having the dream keeps us safe from ever having to do it because we can say, “I could have been a <insert your purpose> if I’d really wanted to.”

By doing nothing, we can blame others and circumstances for never embracing our purpose instead of trying and learning that we never had what it took to be <insert your purpose>. I could write as a hobby and make scrapbooks, read stories, and continue without ever being a writer or storyteller.

I could play it safe because the choice to be a writer is always there and there is no evidence saying I wasn’t any good. For years, I hide from my purpose because I was scared others were right and I wasn’t good enough to be a writer. Yes, people did tell me I wasn’t good enough and I believed them. I’d allowed knee jerk comments to hold me back for too long.

If you aren’t living your purpose because you are scared you will fail, be embarrassed, or lose something – you’ve already lost. I know I’m a writer because I keep writing and putting it out there into the most judgemental and cruel of places - the Internet. I can’t stop. I am compelled to keep trying.

What Happens when you Hit a Wall?

Everything we do has problems that need to be fixed and sacrifices which need to be made. If the sacrifices and problems drain you and leave you rolled up in a ball hiding in the closet from them, then it isn’t your purpose.

When I was writing Thirteen and That’s Life, (formally 40 something) the problems were moving the storyline forward, the sacrifice was time, the risk was rejection.

Make an Impact

You are here on this earth for a short period of time and yet your choices will leave a big impact on future generations. Is there something you are passionate about and want to change in the world? Is there something you want to leave for your children or grandchildren?

I have always loved history and the story of humanity. When I was in London UK, I saw a wall built a thousand years ago and whoever built it made an impact on this world. They built something that I could touch a millennium later. The wall is proof of their existence, though I don’t know their names or their stories, they mattered. They did something to move humanity forward and to remind us they lived.

Some are driven to make a bigger and longer lasting impact, so they seek to change the world, fame, or innovation. Others are content with mattering only to their partners and their children. Whatever your purpose is, it is evidence that your life matters.

When in Doubt, Try.

You don’t know until you try. Go out and do different things until you find the thing you like to do. Today, you have the internet to find groups, classes, and ideas. Throughout history, people figured out what their purposes were without the resources of today.

If you always wanted to be a dancer but you never took a dance class, how do you know that is truly what you want to do? Take some classes and see what happens. You may not become a Prima Ballerina, that takes dedication, youth, natural talent, and super-human focus. However, there are other ways to fulfill your purpose.

I applied for writing jobs. I tried to get the gatekeepers, agents, and hiring managers to see my purpose. They didn’t. Many said I wasn’t good enough, but I kept going and then one idea led to another one, which led to someone who believed in me. Now I’m publishing APeeling and creating magazines for professionals who have a brand story to tell the world. Sure, I didn’t become my generation’s version of Hemingway, but I still can say I’m a writer and have a purpose.

When I Retire

What are you waiting for retirement to try? There is no guarantee you’ll make it to retirement and the way the world is going many of us will never be able to retire, unless we want to live in abject poverty. So, why wait?

You don’t have to make a living out of your purpose. It can be a hobby or a cause you volunteer for. Lots of people work to earn a living so they can live their purpose on weekends.

When We don’t Live our Purpose.

When things fall apart or you continue to come up against brick wall after brick wall no matter what you do, life might be telling you something. When my life was in transition and I didn’t know my purpose, I felt like the ball in a pinball machine being thrown from one thing to the other and never getting anywhere.

I was meant to be a writer. I am supposed to be telling stories. Even though others were not willing to hire me as a writer, I am still doing it. I found a different way where I did not need the approval of gatekeepers or hiring managers.

My purpose is to record real stories by real people with real solutions for life and work. The platform and community I create will impact the world positively and help others when they are struggling through the difficult times in their lives.

We all need a reason for living, a purpose, a why. The thing which gives our lives meaning and makes an impact on the world. Figuring out what will bring meaning to your life is a process. It can take time for the stars to align and life to open the door to opportunity. Until then, know your existence matters and you have a purpose for being here.

I design APeeling because I’m meant to.

Shannon Peel is the talent behind the MarketAPeel brand.

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