Finding our purpose in life is a struggle for many people. We often spend years agonizing over it, questioning if we’ve made the right life choices, and wondering if we’d done something else would our life be better.
When we grow old, we will look back over the years of our lives, and we’ll ask ourselves, “What if I’d done this instead of that? Would my life have been different? Would I have been happier?”
“If only” and “What if” becomes our life statements.
Why do we struggle with finding our purpose?
“Finding our purpose” is huge. It answers the question of why are we here. It defines what our lives are supposed to be about. It’s a philosophical question that gets tossed around at a dinner party or discussed on a campus quad. We laugh and joke with friends and family about what we would be if we had it to do over again.
But it’s a question that haunts our thoughts when we are alone.
When we are children, our concern is playing and having fun. We don’t dig deep into our person. We don’t worry about adult issues. Eat, drink, and be merry is a child's world.
Eventually, children grow up, and this is the question that we ask ourselves when we finally reach adulthood:
“Why am I here?”
This isn’t a question reserved for any generation. Thousands of years ago, people were asking it. In response, Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
How do you know your purpose?
I was raised in a religious family, and the question I was asked when I became a teenager was “What is your calling.”
I’d never thought about it. I knew that someday, I’d have to get a job, maybe have a family, but that was in the future. But when I was asked about it, I struggled. Should I get a job? But how do I know which job would be the right job for me? Should I go to college? But what will I study?
Maybe I wasn’t meant to go to college. Maybe I was supposed to get a job and earn a pension. But what if my purpose was to go to college and earn a degree?
As I grew older and graduation from high school got closer, the pressure to find my purpose grew more intense. I would look through college catalogs and wonder which course of study was the right one for me.
Finding your purpose shouldn’t be a struggle
We make finding our purpose, our calling, our destiny far too difficult. Parents put their expectations upon their children. Dad’s a doctor, so it’s only natural that at least one kid will go into medicine. Mom’s a teacher. So why wouldn’t one child become an educator?
Society puts pressure on finding our purpose, too. Everyone should go to college. Politicians separate people by “the educated” and the “rest”. As if the educated have some kind of special insights into life.
And we put pressure on ourselves. We ask ourselves if we made a wrong career choice. We wonder if it’s too late to make a change.
Finding your purpose is finding what you love to do. It isn’t about money, power, or prestige. It isn’t about building a legacy.
If you are struggling to find your purpose, find what you love and then do it over and over for the rest of your life.
That’s what Aristotle meant when he said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Are you struggling with finding your purpose?
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