Yesterday my husband flew off to work and my kids went back to school after our 6 week Summer break. New shoes were worn, healthy lunches were packed, shiny new stationery was purchased, books will be covered and labelled. Enriching and enjoyable after school activities have been booked, uniforms fitted and important dates diarised. Mmmmm. Now what do I do??? I love being a parent but I also love to work and feel that I’m contributing to the family and society generally. Last year I studied but did no paid work, so this year I want to work but, unlike past jobs that I haven’t loved, I want to do something that not only pays me but gives me satisfaction.
I am acutely aware that a dilemma over finding my life’s purpose is a first world problem. Reassuringly though, Viktor Frankl of Man’s Search for Meaning theorises that the search for a meaning in life is the primary motivational force in human beings. Having said that, all those enriching activities, shoes, stationery and uniforms don’t come cheap, so there is a financial impetus driving my quest for meaningful employment too!
What is my purpose, what am I passionate about? In my own search for meaning I hit the font of all wisdom i.e. the internet and discovered “Finding your life purpose“ in Psychology Today. This really resonated with me. “Don’t get too stressed about this or put too much pressure on yourself about clarifying your purpose. Your purpose might indeed be something grand and complicated, or it may be as simple as dispensing love and kindness wherever you go. Remember to be present in the moment, and delight in watching it all unfold. Life really is beautiful.” That’s lovely and I do work hard to find the beauty and joy in the everyday, but right now that’s not really concrete enough for me. I need a job!
Clicking on I then turned to the real Guru, Oprah, and took a quick quiz: Who am I meant to be? Apparently I am striving to be creative, knowledgeable and secure. OK.
Then I found this promising article Fast Exercises to find your purpose and passion for work. Fast is good because preferably I can knock this finding my purpose thing on the head in the next few days. Right? I dutifully downloaded a workbook 14 Paths to Your Passion (18 pages) and set to work.
One exercise suggests you write down the answer to “What is my true purpose in life?” Then, write another answer. Keep writing until you cry. “This is your purpose.” I had to give up on that one because the only tears I produced were born of sheer frustration. Another suggests you write your eulogy as you would like it to be, including your achievements and the difference you made. I liked this one and it really consolidated my thinking.
I wish I could finish this post by telling you that I have had my Eureka! moment, an epiphany that told me what my true life’s purpose is. I’ve only been working on this for a while so I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I think now I’ve put the process in motion I will eventually find something I want to pursue with passionate energy.While I haven’t identified my life’s purpose in a nutshell I did realise that while I was writing this I was experiencing flow. The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes it as “the feeling of total engagement in the activity so that you don’t notice anything outside of what you’re doing; you forget time and you forget yourself.”
So, if I can combine my writing with other things that I care about and get paid for it, I think I will have come pretty close to finding a job I could love. Have you found your life’s purpose, or are you like me, still working out how to fit family, money, health and a fulfilling job into the mix? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose