This shift in consciousness has resulted in people looking beyond the realms of daily mundane living. Many of them are now seeking answers to some of life’s bigger questions, such as, “Why am I on this planet?” “What is the purpose of my existence?” “How can I make a difference in the world?”
Having been impacted by this movement myself, these are questions that I constantly ask myself. Yet it was not until my senior year in college did I actually contemplate my place in the world.
By that time I was already on my way to graduating with a degree in marketing– a field that I chose purely based on what I thought was most practical and viable. Although I did find the subject interesting, it was a career choice made without a deeper sense of who I was and what my true capabilities were.
As I became more self-aware through the inner work I was doing, I developed a longing to experience more purpose and meaning in my life outside the realm of my chosen profession and my daily existence.
I tried seeking this out by reading spiritual and religious scriptures, while exploring different options to express this untapped potential within me. I knew that I didn’t want to be just another face in the crowd– I wanted my life to matter and I wanted my voice to be heard.
This was not the most comfortable emotion to experience as it did mean facing up to some truths in my life. I realized that my ongoing quest for significance could never be fulfilled in a wholesome way if I continued to be purely motivated by fame and fortune. It had to spring from something deeper, real and less self-centered.
For the next couple of years thereafter, I voraciously read some of the most prolific books about finding your “life purpose”. I also read the biographies of famous people in history, which I used as case studies that supported the concepts that I was learning.
This was an enlightening process during which I had numerous breakthroughs. Although it laid the groundwork for my search for purpose, at the age of 24, I didn’t feel experienced enough to come up with insightful responses to these deeper questions yet.
It seemed that “text book knowledge” was insufficient. I had to test out all these newly learned theories and tools in the real world by going through both personal and professional experiences that could give me the insights that I needed to fill in the missing pieces of my puzzle.
After over a decade of searching, I have come to accept the intuitive, and often, times ambiguous process of self discovery. Much like peeling the multiple layers of an onion, with each experience we have an opportunity to peel off the layers of our conditioning to get closer to our core being.
Today, I’m a lot clearer about my path, but my attitude towards my evolution remains fluid and open. I can see how the few mistakes that I made slowed down this self-realization process. I have listed the mistakes that I made below in the hope that it might help you avoid making them in your journey:
- Lacking the awareness to pick up on signs and clues: It seems that life has a natural flow to it that brings in experiences and people that are instrumental in the unraveling process. If we don’t remain open and maintain a steady awareness, we will miss out on valuable clues. Some of the things that can prevent us from picking up on these hints include having a low self-esteem, a negative mindset or simply being too distracted by daily living.
- Assuming that finding your purpose is a linear and straightforward process: Discovering your purpose is a learning experience that will require some trial and error on your part. It is not a static, one-and-done process. It’s dynamic. There will be times when things may seem foggy, and other times when you could get a series of breakthroughs. We have to accept that there is an ebb and flow of this intuitively-driven process.
- Trying to replicate others success: Often times we get tempted to replicate the success of certain people who inspire us, or whose path seems appealing to us. From a tactical perspective, this makes sense, but we have to understand that our intention for following the same path could be very different from theirs, and we need to be clear about what it is before following their footsteps.
- Assuming that your life purpose can only be expressed in your career: Most people limit the expression of their values and purpose to what they do for living, when this does not have to be the case. We can express our purpose in a variety of avenues, such as volunteer work, our hobbies, and in our own personal lives.
- Making your life purpose all about you: Discovering our purpose is an essential part of building our self-awareness as it gives us an opportunity to express our authentic voice and talents. However, our purpose can only be truly meaningful if it has a positive impact on your family, friends, society, and even sometimes the rest of the world.
Ultimately, your life purpose is meant to be a beacon that sheds light on where you should be focusing your energies and resources on, so that you can bring more perspective and meaning into your everyday existence.
If you stay in motion, learn as you go and remain open to the insights you receive on the journey, you will find the direction you need to not only reach higher levels of self-actualization, but also to make a significant contribution to the world at large.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Have you made any of these 5 mistakes while finding your life purpose? If yes, what will you start doing differently?
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