No Seriously... You Should Stop
It’s a contradicting thought, I know, this idea that you should stop searching for your purpose when we’ve been taught most of our lives that we should start. From the time we’re three years old we’re asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And when we’re that young we say impossible things like an astronaut or a princess. It’s adorable and everyone laughs, right? But it’s funny how quickly that innocent question we were asked at three years old becomes the internalized question of “What is my purpose?”
So we’re 16 years old - barely know who we are yet - and we’re feeling this pressure to go figure out our purpose in life. And maybe I’m the first to tell you this, but the search doesn’t really seem to end. Most of us are asking ourselves the same question in our twenties and thirties and so on. We spend a good portion of our lives looking for the answer.
I’ve been caught up in finding the answer for myself for some time now and this is what I’ve concluded:
Your purpose isn’t just something you can wake up one day and set out to find. Why? Because it’s actually a byproduct of other things. This is not exactly what we’ve grown up believing, I know, but I think there’s something to this.
Show Up. Work Hard. Stay Humble = Purpose?
First of all, let’s change the phrase. It’s no longer about searching for your purpose; it’s about discovering your purpose. And yes, there is a difference. I’ve never searched the streets for a $5 bill, but I have discovered one while walking before. With me? Good! Here's my theory: If you show up, work hard and stay humble you will discover your purpose somewhere in the middle.
You Can't Do Much if You Don't Show Up.
This is far more than just physical. Yes, you have to physically show up to places like work, home, church, etc... but there's so much more to showing up than just physically being there. You have to show up emotionally available and mentally prepared. You have to show up ready.
There are too many people today just physically showing up to their jobs, to parenting, to their marriage, to church, but never truly being present and available. If you don't show up ready, you are your own stumbling block to discovering your purpose.
Showing Up? Time to Work Hard.
Working hard does not necessarily mean being the first one in and last one to leave the office. It does not mean always being on call and checking email. It does not mean staying busy. It is not exclusive to your job. While all of those things may very well be included in working hard sometimes, they typically just lead to frustration and burn out. You can't be "on" all the time.
Beyond your job, you may have to work hard at your marriage, parenting, your ministry; You may have to work hard at developing a work life balance and learning when it's ok to not work hard (ironic, right?).
Working hard is about managing your time to get the most of it. It's about learning how to stay focused and get the job done well. It's about being willing to put the extra time in when necessary and knowing when it's time to step away.
Your purpose isn't exclusively discovered in your career. You have purpose outside of that, in many areas of life outside of that. Allow yourself the freedom to discover what that is.
There's a lot that I could say here, but I will keep it short and sweet.
It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from or where you've been. You did not get to where you are in life completely on your own.
Yes, you have showed up. Yes, you have worked hard. And you know what? You are awesome for that.
But there have been people along the way that helped you become who you are, even if all they did is show you what not to be. Remember that. Maybe you won't believe this until life puts you on your face, but without humility your showing up and working hard don't hold much value.
When you are humble, you will find purpose in even the smallest moments of life.
You don't need to search for it. It's not lost. You don't need to take classes or attend workshops that explain how you can find your purpose faster. Just live your life.