Steve came to me desperate to find his purpose.
He was working as a senior manager in a very large company doing good work in the world.
He had just been promoted into the position that he had hankered after for years. However, he was discovering that it was not all that he had hoped.
What you want may not be all it is meant to be
Now that he had a bigger job and more influence, he had to get more involved in organisational politics. “I don’t trust a lot of the people around me,” he said. ”It is not that they are not good people but sometimes they believe that the end justifies the means. That is not the way I do things.”
More than that, he realised that he was not going to be able to make the difference he hoped he would be able to make in that position. What he wanted to do was simply more radical than the organisation would allow.
[callout]Feeling defeated he said, “I don’t know what to do. I have spent ages climbing this hill but the view is not what I thought it would be”.[/callout]
Way too busy to find your purpose
As we started our session, Steve was frustrated and confused.
He was overcompensating as well. He was spending lots of time traveling for work and working extra hours because it helped him to feel like he was engaged, busy and making a difference. This was a clue to his purpose. He was trying to get to an end, but it just wasn’t the right means to that end.
He was also keeping his self very busy socially, partially because he hated “being bored”. I challenged this and asked his what was underneath the boredom. “The frustration of not know why I am here and what my purpose is” he replied. Hmmmm.
“No matter how hard I look or think about it, I just can’t seem to figure out what my purpose is,” Steve said. ”What about this is so important to you?“ I asked. ”Because I want to feel happy and without it, it just constantly feels uncomfortable…like I have a stone in my shoe”.
Trying too hard to find your purpose
The problem for Steve was that he was trying too hard. There is an old saying, “What you resist persists and grows stronger.” By being so focused and fixed on his lack of purpose, Steve was creating resistance to actually being able to articulate what his purpose is.
He was also focused on the idea that he simply didn’t know what his purpose was rather than the possibility that on some level he did know. So he was creating more resistance to the idea of knowing his purpose.
[callout]The more tightly and desperately he tried to grab hold of his purpose, the more it eluded him.[/callout] Steve was treating his purpose a little bit like a Chinese finger puzzle. The more he pulled and tried to force a solution, the more it resisted him.
What he needed to do was actually relax…and listen.
You can’t find your purpose if you have no space in your life
Steve was so busy that he had no space in his life to actually stop and listen to his own inner knowing and wisdom…that part of him that instinctively knows his purpose and how to live it.
The inner voice of wisdom is a small voice that often gets lost in the busy-ness of every day life. Rather than forcefully looking outside himself under every rock and stone to find his purpose, he needed to slow down and listen to his inner knowing.
Purpose is something that you discover and remember rather than figure out. [callout]“The truth is that your purpose, your why, is right in front of you Steve, but you are so busy and distracted that you simply can’t see what is right there.”[/callout]
Through working all those extra hours, Steve at least felt that he was working to make a difference. He was acting like a flower reaching for the Sun. He instinctively knew what he needed and he reached for it, but it just wasn’t quite in the right form to satisfy him.
What can you do to allow your purpose to come to you?
Simply create some intentional space to listen. This is the conclusion that Steve came to as well. Here are the steps he took to create the space to allow his purpose to come to him.
- Start to meditate for 15 minutes a day – just to clear out the mental clutter that got in the way of hearing his inner wisdom.
- Cutting back all the non-necessary extra work hours and extra social hours, in order to create space.
- Spend some of that extra time with himself – Steve needed to feel the discomfort of the boredom in order to propel his movement forward.
- Be very intentional with his relaxation activities – doing things and spending time with people intentionally because he knew that they would raise his energy, rather than to avoid boredom.
Why these things?
All of these are helping him to relax more and feel better. It is also giving Steve the space and time to listen to his inner knowing rather than wasting all that time and energy looking for his purpose outside himself.
Now, his self-awareness and sense of connection with himself are growing. The sense of relaxation coupled with clearer thinking has meant that his purpose is becoming clearer. More to the point he is starting see it and hear it for what it is rather than what he thinks it should be.
If you are desperate to find your purpose, you need to know why you are desperate to find it. That could be the very thing that is blocking your purpose in the first place as what you resist persists and grows stronger.
If you really want to find your purpose, stop chasing it like a hound after a rabbit. Sit down, get quiet and allow your purpose come to you.
[reminder]How are you pushing your purpose away?[/reminder]
Image credit: Vicki & Chuck Rogers/Flickr