Of the 100 women in the research I did to write Wander Woman, none of them said they ever left a job because they didn’t get a title or salary they felt they deserved. Although some of the companies they worked for slighted them, the deciding factor to leave was based on their feelings of insignificance, invisibility or resentment for having to do work they didn’t like.
More than anything, they wanted to make an impact, in the workplace or for their customers. If their work didn’t prove to be meaningful to them, they wandered in search of their purpose.
Kelly, said, “If my work doesn’t give me a sense that I am doing something special, I’m not happy. That’s when I feel most restless–when I get so busy that I lose an internal sense that what I’m doing is important beyond making a profit.”
The problem is that they kept repeating this pattern. They kept searching for something more, then felt disappointed when they didn’t find it. They felt their work didn’t align with their life purpose, but they couldn’t articulate what that purpose was.
So what do you do when you don’t know what your life purpose is? Most likely you know when your sense of purpose is missing, but if you can’t define what gives you this feeling, you leave its appearance in your life to chance. Then you feel restless, discontented and disappointed more than you feel fulfilled.
First, know that there is a difference between having a “life purpose” which is a specific destination and having a “sense of purpose” which is a feeling that provides you direction. Having a sense of direction will help you make career and life choices even if you don’t have a specific life purpose.
Declaring a definitive purpose defines a specific destination. The latter—living with a sense of purpose—identifies a feeling. If you haven’t identified your life purpose, choosing to find your direction over a destination can make your life easier. You can quit beating yourself up for not having one purpose in life.
When you release the need to know the definitive answer to the purpose question, you live for a feeling instead of a goal. You appreciate what sparks your love, gratitude, laughter, pride and awe instead of losing these moments to your to-do lists.
We look too hard to find a unique, profound, and tangible reason for our existence. Instead, seek to discover everything that makes you feel alive and connected.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a life purpose. I honor those who have found it. The rest of us may stumble upon one someday. In the meantime, choose to enjoy the gifts of contentment, love and gratitude for the sunshine and people in your life today.
First determine what having a sense of purpose feels like to you. Then you can recognize what ignites these feelings. Once you identify what sparks your laughter, love, passion and pride, you have the means to determine if you are on a purposeful path or if you need to shift your direction.
Your sense of purpose then becomes the guiding light that keeps you focused as you wander through life. When you passionately live with a strong sense of purpose, you can remember what is most important to you no matter what difficulties you face.
What brings you joy and fulfillment may change over time so you may feel you have lost your sense of direction. Allow the source to change. There is no right or wrong answers to the question, “What makes me feel alive and connected right now?”
Just ask and see what shows up.