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Finding Your Life’s Purpose

Locksmith breaking into Life Coaches office probablyThe following is a guest post from Nicole Bandes.

When I first ventured into the realm of personal development and began seeking out a Life Coach with which to work, I started hearing a lot about finding my life’s purpose.

It seemed so dramatic and intense.  It seemed like the key to everything I was missing.  Unfortunately, it also seemed like I had not yet found that key.  And that made it seem even more critical to my success.

If I couldn’t find my life’s purpose, I’d never find success.

Does that sound familiar?

I started on a personal adventure.  I was going to FIND my life’s purpose if it killed me in the process!  I had to find it.

If I didn’t, I’d continue to wander aimlessly around in this world not ever reaching my goals, even if my goals were clear.

I began to take all the assessments and create my mission statement and vision statement.

I would meditate and look inwards.  I’d categorize my interests and talents.  I asked those around me what they thought I was really good at doing.  I formulated possible ideas.

All the programs seemed to indicate that I’d be brought to tears or get a lump in my throat when I found my life’s purpose.  From everything I was hearing and reading, I expected fireworks and a parade.

Maybe that’s why I kept looking.  I assumed that, lacking that AHA moment, I hadn’t yet found my true purpose.

One of the questions I kept asking myself while I was on this journey was:

Will I really want to do this for the REST OF MY LIFE?

After all, your life’s purpose is what you are meant to do in your life, right?

Well, maybe.  That’s where I felt I had been going wrong.  I was looking for that one, singular answer to the whole question.  The answer that would then be carved in stone and never change.

I knew I was a person of many interests and desires.  I knew that I loved to learn and continue to grow and get bored easily if I’m not continually challenged.  What if I got bored with my life’s purpose?

And that’s when I figured it out.  Who said you can only have one life’s purpose and that that purpose would last your entire life?

Who said that whatever I came up with would be something I’d have to live with and never change?

Who said your life’s purpose couldn’t be something that changed with the stages of your life?  Whoever said you couldn’t have more than one life’s purpose?

And with that, the fireworks went off and the parade began marching down the road.

What I discovered was that I do have a life’s purpose.

I know why I’m here right now.  I know what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

I know who I’m supposed to be helping and how I’m supposed to help them right now.

Tomorrow?  That’s the future and who knows what that will bring.

I’ve never found anything that suggests you may have multiple purposes throughout your life.  I have found though, that most people do.

There are a few exceptions to this, for example; Mother Theresa and Ghandi.

However, if you look carefully at most of the highly successful individuals in the world, most of them have not always done the same thing throughout their entire lives.  For some, this may be because they took a while to discover their true purpose.

For most, I believe it is because that purpose has grown with them as individuals.

Perhaps, as a new parent, your life purpose is to raise healthy, emotionally strong and successful children.  There are many mothers, and fathers, who spend a good portion of their lives in this life’s purpose.  Once their children are grown, they must now determine a new life’s purpose.

Or perhaps, as a young college student, you find yourself drawn to helping others in third world countries.  You give of yourself, your time and your finances to participate in programs designed to boost the standard of living in these areas of the world.

You are convinced that you will be a lifer for these types of programs.  However, as you get older, the desire to settle in and have more security and stability has an effect on you and your purpose shifts.

The attachment of the word LIFE to life’s purpose gives the illusion that this is something that is forever, or at least a lifetime.

Unfortunately, for this reason, many spend a lifetime looking for their life’s purpose.  That’s why I choose to call it my greater purpose.  My greater purpose at this time is to help guide people to discover some of the best kept “secrets” to a better life.

What is your greater purpose?

Author Bio

Nicole Bandes is a bestselling author, speaker and personal coach.  After struggling with lack of self esteem, confidence and direction in her life for many years, Nicole was able to discover the key to permanent positive change and has create The YOU Coach program to help others overcome their own personal struggles.

You can subscribe to her newsletter or buy her book, “Positivity on Purpose: Intentionally Create More Abundance, Wealth and Happiness” by visiting Golden Eagles Coaching

Tims Note: I wan to thank Nicole for making a really excellent point with this post and one that I have hammered home again and again with some clients.

To my mind there are two ways round it.

One, is that as Nicole says, you have multiple purposes and these may change as you move through life.

The other, is that you make your purpose vague, but highly meaningful to you.

My life’s work  is to help people, and it always has been (even when I worked in sales and didn’t know it) and you don’t get much more vague than that.

Also, when I have clients with multiple projects that can’t decide which is the one. I encourage them to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and just pick one now, knowing that the others will be waiting when they are ready to move on.

45 comments to Finding Your Life’s Purpose

  • A “greater” purpose. I love it.

    I’ve found that as I immerse myself into “one thing”, for now, that it eventually opens doors to other passions, relationships and directions. It also opens doors internally for me too.

    I don’t have a lot to add except to acknowledge the message and how much it hits home for me.

    In one word. YES.

    • I agree Tony, I think Nicole did a brilliant job and when I got her e-mail I was like “Shit, why have I never written this post?” and I don’t think that very often ;-)

  • Thanks Tony. I think it hits home for most people. That’s why so many people, even those on the personal development path already, struggle to hit the home run.

  • Rob Collins

    Hi Nicole. Your post spoke directly to me too, thank you. And I know several other people who have been searching in the same way at one time or another.

    This seems to apply to relationships too. Some people keep on searching for the “Aha!” moment when they find their perfect partner. A more satisfying approach would be to make the most of the relationship you’re in right now (provided it’s a not a really unhealthy one). Perfection is a mirage.

    • One of my dads friends, Ian Hall, used to play professional cricket for Derbyshire and football for Derby. He was one of the last people to do that.

      Derby went on a mad signing spree under Robert Maxwell in the 80′s spending millions on players like Paul Kitson, Tommy Johnson, Craig Short, Mark Pembridge, Marco Gabbiadini etc. Every time they bought somebody I’d ask Ian what he thought. He always used to say “You’re just exchanging one set of a problems for another”

      I thought he was a miserable bastard, but he was right, with the possible exception of Craig Short they were all shit and couldn’t get us promoted.

      No idea where that response came from or even if it’s relevant, but I feel better!

  • Rob, I do agree with that. Trading one partner for another is simply trading one set of pros and cons for another.

    • Ghislaine

      I like that: “A set of pros & cons”! You can apply that to a bunch of things… Some “pros” are a MUST, some “cons” are NO WAYs and that helps a decision!

  • The discussion around multiple purposes throughout life is interesting and also very realistic for many people. A prime example are high performance athletes whether professional or Olympians. These people knew early on that their destiny was to participate in their chosen sport. It was definitely a life purpose.

    However, most high performance sports unfortunately have limitations related to the age of the athletes. Sooner or later, even if without injuries, all of these athletes will retire and then the question of what to do next comes up.

    This is when their second calling or another life purpose can definitely appear.

    • That’s very true Clint. Some high performance sports figures will go on to teach or coach but many find they need something else. I have a dear friend that was very close to making the Olympic team for figure skating and went on to spend 20 years as a pro skater. He finally got to the point where he felt there had to be more. His “greater” purpose had changed.

  • Sounds all too familiar. Excellent post. It is important to find your purpose or goal. I couldn’t agree more. We must do what we WANT to do. We are here once, make the best of it by doing what makes us happy.

    I have learned that the destination isn’t what I am after – It’s the journey…

    • 100% agreed on the want versus what we think we *should* do. Not many people get that though.

    • Those darn parents of ours ruined us with all that excitement they built in about getting to the destination! At that time the destination was Disneyland, how did they expect us to get excited about that giant ball of string when Disneyland was where we were going!

  • Hi Nicole & Tim,
    Thank you for this. I’ve read many articles on this subject and I’m none the wiser. This article however makes sense.
    For me my purpose (helping, coaching) sort of snuck up on me. However when I look back at my previous careers, it’s always been there, waiting to come out. The ‘ah ha’ moment will come when ready.
    be good to yourselves
    David

  • Interesting post – I believe as long as you continue to challenge yourself with new things you will live a life of purpose. People often limit themselves believing their is one single thing out there that will make them complete and they may spend an entire lifetime searching for it. If you live to enjoy each moment and take away everything as a learning experience you’ll open up new avenues and passions. In time, without knowing it, you may have spent years enjoying a single activity even decades! Professional athletes run into this problem when they spend the first part of their life focussing on only one thing. When they are forced to retire from injury or performance they can be left feeling lost an incomplete again. Enjoy the Now, without searching for a single answer. Continue to challenge yourself with new experiences – they journey is called Life. I’ve just written a similar article on this topic you might enjoy.

    Cheers, Russell O’Neill
    http://www.befreetoday.com.au/2011/08/26/feeling-purposeful-how-to-live-life-full-of-purpose/

  • Just because it happens for some people doesn’t mean we should believe it should happen for all people. I don’t have a life purpose and I’m cool with that, but it took a while to get there because I had to deprogram myself from this notion which is instilled in us from the beginning as though it were true.

    If you keep asking what is your life purpose and have no answer then either there’s something wrong with you or there’s something wrong with the question. I choose to believe the question is faulty—at least for me.

    • Maybe, maybe not.

      I think some people have a purpose but they talk themselves out of it and prefer to believe that they don’t have one and then there’s no pressure to deliver.

      I have a friend who really wants to be a writer (as in novels – sci-fi I think), but he’s great at talking himself out of it.

      Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still not saying *everybody* has a purpose for existence or that anybody can live it even if they have it. If you have 10 kids and a single parent with a PFE of traveling the world doing volunteer work, then that’s going to be a tad impractical.

    • I believe that’s why I got away from “life” purpose. It’s not about what you are meant to do for the rest of your life.

      I do agree we are programmed. Maybe not so much from the beginning of life (though I’m not religious so maybe churches do this) but certainly from the first moment you step into any sort of personal development program. Perhaps Tim can add that to his list of personal development myths!

  • Totally agree.

    We are very multi-faceted and dynamic individuals, there is no way our life can be defined by a single purpose. This is why I like to draw a distinction between purposeful behavior (INTENTFUL behavior that we carry out on a daily basis) vs. having one “greater purpose” in life.

    Purposeful behavior is incredibly important to living a happy and meaningful life, but we have to watch out for the trap of looking for that 1 single “AHA” moment where it all makes sense. Purposeful living is a constantly changing work-in-progress.

    Thanks a lot for this Nicole!

  • I challenge all my clients to discover their purpose. Everyone is different. You also have different seasons in your life… a different place and vision; but still a purpose.

    When you discover your real purpose, you discover something valueable – a treasure within. That’s when you feel as though you have something worth striving for in life.

    Thank you for your article.

    • So do you not agree with Michale then Janice that some people simply don’t have a lifes purpose?

      I do think that’s possible, or more to the point, it’s possible for for people to be happy and content and never find what that one thing is.

    • Thanks Janice,

      What about those that seem to struggle no matter how hard they look? I’ve worked with coaches and through programs to discover my “life” purpose only to go away frustrated and angry that I must be inadequate for not finding it. I don’t think that serves anyone any good. Had those coaches and programs simply helped me to see that it might not be there for the rest of my life but simply serve me and those around me for this point in my life, that would have had far better rewards and results.

  • Thanks Tim, did not know that.

    • No problem. Most blogs allow the commenters to link back from their signature to their own site these days. Consequently links inside a comment will often get flagged as spam by plug ins like Akismet.

      I tend to check my spam folder from time to time, but a lot of bloggers don’t and you have wasted your time commenting.

  • I think hindsight has helped me with finding my life purpose, because I have worked and endeavored at so many different areas but they all encompass inspiring others to be their best…
    What I have never been good at is making money (or technical/mathematical things)which made it very hard to pick a major in college that I could complete…now I have 2 graduate degrees! Maybe my main work effort has been to get my mind off the “short school bus” I was required to ride.

    I think Nicole is so right with her words and her work – we need to be able to think and think about what we are doing – I found changing one’s thinking crucial to being an awesome parent and in assisting my parent to die…flexible thinking – unique thinking and I believe it is these ideas and actions which will be ready to take on the whole world…Thank you for sharing Nicole’s words and ideas…you are right a great post

    • Thanks Patricia.

      Remember, those of us that are truly successful will always be learning, whether working towards an academic degree or not. If you aren’t learning, you are dying!

  • “Also, when I have clients with multiple projects that can’t decide which is the one. I encourage them to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and just pick one now, knowing that the others will be waiting when they are ready to move on.”

    Well shoot Tim, that’s kind of what I was going to ask you about the next time we spoke on the phone. Perhaps it’s a sign of an ego problem, but I run into this problem of having lots and lots of great things I could be doing and that I think I’d be very good at but there is only so much time given to each of us.

    Thanks for the great post, Nicole!

  • I agree Tim with your footnote because I also know that my purpose in life involves helping people.

    How I do that has differed and will differ over the years.

  • Hi Nicole,

    I like this post because its very in line with what I have been talking a lot about. I agree that we can have multiple purposes and there’s no hard and fast rule about what’s a good purpose, what’s purposeful or what cannot be a purpose. We are all creatures of free will after all.

    I’d say, as long as we think and feel that the purpose is right for us, then it applies. We might change it somewhere down the road, and that’s pretty alright not to be consistent, because we are getting smarter every day anyway.

    For me, my higher purpose is to help people learn and connect with themselves. To align their thoughts with their feelings, and to turn it into actions.

    I believe that when you know why you are doing something, you get less upset if you are not there yet. Because your compass is set, and its just a matter of time. The journey has always been the fun part. And life is a journey.

  • “I’d say, as long as we think and feel that the purpose is right for us, then it applies”

    Absolutely!

  • Hi Tim, and thanks to Nicole for sharing her experience on finding her life purpose.

    I think that life’s purpose is more than a cause one chooses or is called to serve. It is more than a profession or a business choice. It is more than the various responsibilities than one may have as a spouse, a parent, etc…

    These possibilities of choice may answer the question, what am I here for?, but they elude the other aspect of the life’s purpose quest, which is, why am I here?

    “What for” doesn’t really matter as the answers tend to vary throughout one’s life. What matters most is “why”, and when you know it, it will unfailingly guide you.

  • I love this post on working with purpose. I particularly appreciate the distinction you made between life purpose and greater purpose. I wholeheartedly agree that purpose is a moving and living thing, making it a way of life rather than a specific thing we do.

    It is great that you are sharing your knowledge with others here. You are truly making a difference in the world. Keep doing what you are doing!

    To your magnificence!
    Andrea Woolf
    Founder, Ignite Your Life Book
    Co-Founder, Wake Up Abundant
    Ambassador of Manifest Money, HowtoLiveonPurpose

  • Love this post and it’s message. I was divorced a few years ago and searched hard for my one purpose and was beginning to be very frustrated that I couldn’t figure out what IT was. This concept of being in the “now” pretty much hit me in the face a few months ago and made a huge difference. I realized I’ve had many a life purpose and I hope I have many more. I recently realized that the journey of my life was getting lost in wanting to arrive at my destination. Truly being IN the moment is easier said than done, but it makes ALL the difference. Many of us need to bury the lies we’ve been led to believe all our lives. The Creator/Universe can’t fulfill my destiny without me and I’m sure I’ll be let in on the “secret” when the time is right.

  • I want to share this quote:

    “The purpose of our lives is to give birth to the best which is within us.” ~ Marianne Williamson

  • Steve

    Good post, I agree. Purposeful behavior is incredibly important to living a happy and meaningful life, but we have to watch out for the trap of looking for that 1 single “AHA” moment where it all makes sense. Purposeful living is a constantly changing work-in-progress.