“The purpose of life is a life of purpose” said Robert Byrne rather pragmatically. But many of us struggle to answer the question that arises “what is my purpose?” Wise words from Dr Amit Ray point us in the right direction “It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters.”
When you are doing something you love, you radiate that. Good vibes are infectious; we can’t fail to be lifted when we are around someone who is clearly in the zone. The opposite can be true too. So the first really obvious answer to a life of purpose, is in the acts of doing things you love rather than things you feel you must.
For many years I struggled to find an answer about my own purpose, some people just seemed to know exactly what they should be doing in life and I was waiting for that thunderbolt. Well, not waiting so much as prowling like a wounded tiger. Hurt by the emptiness of the world of ambition; the politics and positioning, the cyclical spiraling of transformation to cost cutting, yearning for something more.
Having read many career books over the years, even some great thought provoking ones like What Color is Your Parachute and The Artist’s Way, the thunderbolt never appeared. What did happen (and is still happening) was more of a slow awakening. I attracted people into my life who were able to help point to where my talents lay. In hindsight all those things seem obvious, but stuck in a quagmire of obligation to the duties of whichever role I was in at the time, combined with a hectic schedule, like many, I was stuck in a sea of fog.
Even last year when the opportunity came up to leave the big corporate role I’d come to despise, I knew I wanted to take it; I just didn’t know what I was going to do with it. There I was, 10 years old all over again, at the edge of the tallest diving board, “just jump” the inner voice said.
With the responsibilities that come with having a family, my partner and I decided to lessen the financial burden by moving away from the big city. The move took much longer than anticipated, and started to feel very uncomfortable as I was trying to figure out what to do. Was it writing? Coaching? Speaking? Should I set up a website?
I started investigating but was getting a bit lost in another fog of research and information about which platforms to use, what to write about, how to get published and other ways to make money. Although I became aware of the easy-to-use LinkedIn platform for publishing articles, the general advice for serious bloggists seemed to be to use the WordPress platform. It all got too technical and I almost gave it up as a bad job.
Then that inner voice said “just jump”. I needed to ‘out’ my writing, to simply start. So I set aside all the ‘technical’ stuff and chose LinkedIn to publish my first blog.
Nearly 6 months on from that first blog, I have published one weekly since and had some great responses. But I am a seedling that has barely taken hold. Vulnerable; though I do now introduce myself as a writer when asked what I do, which is a step forward.
Having now written much about being the person you were born to be, being present and stilling the mind, I’ve had the good fortune to converse with a few of you about your own journeys. This week I heard from someone who has also taken the plunge into a role that they see more as their calling. But things aren't going as planned and they are feeling bad. The question arose, was this a sign that they were on the wrong path? Or is this a normal part of the process of a life of purpose? It was a timely question for me too.
Then I learned of the passing of Dr Wayne Dyer. Earlier this year I heard about a film he’d made, and seemed proud of, with his friend Portia de Rossi, called The Shift; the inspiration for this week’s title. In his memory, Hay House Publishing allowed free access to watch the film for a short time. I’ve heard the saying “you don’t attract what you want, you attract what you need”. I am so thankful for such a lovely gift, I certainly needed it.
As we have made the move to our new home, and I have made the decision to let my writing grow organically (rather than try and force it in order to make an immediate income), I had some interim contracting work all set up to contribute to the household budget. That hasn’t come to fruition and I find myself in a place I don’t want to be, relentless domesticity with little time to search for some interim contracting work and even less time to develop my writing. Is this a sign it’s not for me?
What I know for sure, when you “follow your bliss”, as Joseph Campbell said, obstacles and challenges are part of the journey. Living a life of purpose doesn’t mean you no longer attract these, but you will find that as you become more of who you truly are, and as you start to still your mind to listen to your inner knowing, your perspective on life’s challenges changes.
To know if something is for you or not, dwell on how it feels. For example, as I was sifting through the things I might want to do versus those I don’t, I thought of the frustration that arises for me when I’m coaching someone (who might not take the advice), versus the fulfillment I feel, the stillness, the connectedness, when I’m writing, or the frission of energy I get from speaking to audiences on a topic I’m passionate about.
As I watched Dr Dyer’s “The Shift”, there was a character that was caught in a world of domesticity bringing up her two young boys, who got reminded of that feeling she used to have when she painted. Caught in my own world of domesticity at the moment, I related to that character, and it served as a timely reminder to me that my present obstacles are temporary.
Gratitude has taken on a whole new meaning; it used to seem trite, something said on the front of greetings' cards. But as I sat there after the film, and after having talked to another person on their journey, after experiencing the frustration of my present situation, I felt nothing but gratitude for the things I was attracting into me experience – you get what you need – I hear, loud and clear.
Are you paying attention to the signs in your life? Making the shift from ambition to purpose might not be a thunderbolt, but you can make a start. Start to do more of the things that feel good, and less of those that don’t. Be that person radiating the good vibes, and you’ll have contributed more to this world that any amount of money or recognition can.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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