Why purpose?

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I recently wrote about my purpose and how it’s taking shape in this chapter of my life. But it perhaps begs the question: what’s so helpful about purpose anyway? What are the practical benefits of declaring your purpose? Why think about it at all?​

Defining purpose

Some use “purpose” as a more noble-sounding way to say goals or achievement. They think of purpose as some future accomplishment that will allow them to see themselves and/or be seen by the world in a certain way and thus offer their ego the validation it’s been looking for. For me, that’s not purpose. Purpose is not a big life goal you really want to achieve. It’s not the ultimate destination you want to arrive at. Purpose is more like the energy and intention with which you can take every single step forward through life. It’s the everyday practice of offering your gifts and passions in service to whatever ideals you love and value most. Purpose is not something you arrive at. It’s something you can be in or out of alignment with. So why care about purpose?

Benefit #1: Fulfillment

​First and foremost, purpose is perhaps your best opportunity to tap into that profound sense of meaning, fulfillment, and gratification so many of us yearn for. By sharing your gifts with the world in service to what you value most, you can feel that what you do today actually means something to you and the world, that your life matters, and that you are truly doing what you are here to do in this life. Through that sense of fulfillment, you inherently ward off those feelings of despair, aimlessness, meaninglessness, and cynicism that have become so pervasive in modern life.

Benefit #2: Inspiration

​Purpose can also be a way to inspire ourselves to do things that feel difficult or unpleasant. In any given moment or endeavor, you can ask yourself: “Is this task aligned with my deepest purpose?” If yes, then often any frustration, laziness, or resistance you’re experiencing with that endeavor becomes much easier to navigate. Since you know that you are aligned with what truly offers your life a sense of meaning and fulfillment, you become much more inspired by and committed to the process and much more willing to endure whatever hardship might come with it.

Benefit #3: Guidance

​When you ask yourself if what you’re doing aligns with your purpose, often the answer is no. In these cases, you have two choices.

You can choose to approach this task in a way that better or more intentionally aligns with your purpose. In doing so, you can tap into the fulfillment and inspiration discussed above.

But you can also simply choose to step away from that activity and do something different that better aligns with your purpose. Purpose becomes a filter that guides you away from whatever is out of alignment toward what is in alignment. Similarly, if a new opportunity, like a job offer, presents itself, you can ask yourself: Will this opportunity better allow me to live my purpose? If yes, then there’s a good chance you’ll want to say yes, even if it feels scary or uncertain in some way. If no, then perhaps you can just let it go without too much hand-wringing or second-guessing about it, even if, for example, it pays really well or has some other enticing benefit.

In this way, your purpose becomes a litmus test by which you gauge if something is worth pursuing. With purpose as your north star, all of a sudden, complicated decisions become simpler. Your path becomes clearer.​

In the first piece in this series, I detailed my personal sense of purpose. In this piece, I laid out some of the practical benefits of articulating your purpose. In the next and final piece, I will invite you into a complimentary one-hour session for you to discover and articulate your own highest purpose.

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