My belief is that each of us has a divine purpose that we come into this world with.
I had a sense of that when I was a child, a belief that I had planned certain aspects of my life before I had come into it—even that I had chosen certain family members and life challenges.
I believe I chose a purpose before coming into this life, and I believe you did too.
You might not share this belief, but I invite you to consider the idea that having a purpose linked to a higher calling gives much more meaning to every day. It gives more meaning to every interaction you have with others, and every action you take for your “work.”
I was a at a crossroads a few years ago, where I felt like I had to make a decision between my feeling of purpose as guide and my desire to create and be artistic (which was manifesting at the time with a desire to make bath and body products).
One night I had a dream that I was consulting with a spirit guide and I asked her which path I should take. I was expecting to feel judged for questioning and diverging from my strong conviction of being a guide.
But she was very understanding and what she said to me was “You can do anything as long as you are a guide.”
She was reinforcing my understanding that my feeling of purpose as guide was true, but that it didn’t mean I couldn’t be anything else or love doing anything else. And that sent me on my journey to find a way to bridge the two together, to be a guide and an artist.
In this article I want to share with you 2 reasons why I believe discovering your purpose is so challenging and 3 powerful exercises to help you figure out what your purpose is.
I hope this will allow you to be easier on yourself if you are feeling frustrated for not knowing what you truly want to do with your life. These are valid reasons and they are figure-outable ;)
2 Reasons It’s Hard to See Your Purpose
Fear shows up when we have a strong desire—it actually originates in the same part of the brain as desire.
Have you ever really wanted something, but were kind of scared to get it too? That’s what I’m talking about here.
Sometimes it’s easier to pretend we don’t know what we want than to have a strong conviction and risk failing at it. It might seem safer to be in a state of limbo than to declare your desire and risk the troubles that come with it.
Fortunately it is possible to act in spite of fear and shift those same sensations into a reframe of excitement.
Fear makes me want to avoid taking action, but I remind myself to channel that energy to rush towards doing what I’m afraid of.
2) Too Many Interests
I know I have way too many interests and can happily spend a lifet
ime enjoying each one of them!
Can you relate?
Have you ever decided that you want to pursue one path, but then changed your mind because something else sounded really good too?
This seems like a problem since we are living in a world that is becoming more and more specialized.
Here’s an example of what I mean: in ancient times the concept of philosophy was the study of ideas–but also of science, spirituality, and psychology, just to name a few.
Over time, each of these things became separate branches of study. Science was removed from the study of philosophy and further broken down into subsets like chemistry, physics, biology, etc.
This means that nowadays we are often put in the position where we have to make very specific choices about how we want our purpose to be expressed.
But this is actually good news!
We are moving into an era where this desire for specialization is so distinct that we can take *all* of our interests and combine them in unique ways. We can offer what makes us unique in a way that no one else can.
It can be hard at first to see how your purpose can possibly be expressed and encompass all of your interests.
We may be creating a specialization or putting together a com
bination of interests and talents that has never been done before–no wonder it’s scary and confusing!
So as you start to get a clearer idea of what your purpose is, you may start thinking thoughts like:
But someone else can do this so much better and already is—why does the world need me?
Remember that you are what makes what you have to offer unique.
No one can do “you” in exactly the way that you can.
3 Exercises for Discovering Your Purpose
Let’s get started right now figuring out what your divine purpose is!
Grab a warm drink for nourishing comfort and hav
e a journal handy so you can write down your insights.
Exercise #1) Discover Your Element
I believe that all of your interests can be broken down into one simple element that is your purpose, and this exercise helps you figure out what that is.
This exercise is great if you’re someone like me who has a lot of interests and could spend a lifetime happily pursuing each one. We’re going to narrow it down for this lifetime with crystal clear precision by looking at the big picture holistically.
Start by making a list of interests you have had since childhood that extend all the way up to the present moment.
I would focus on the ones that are consistent, the ones you still enjoy or wish you could if you had more time. I also invite you to include the things you desire to do if you ha
d the time and money, even if they are things you have never done.
For instance, some of my interests would be:
writing, drawing, fashion design, bellydancing, acting, caring for reptiles and amphibians, making perfume, making candles, sewing, painting, psychology, neuropsychology, physics, statistical research, spirituality, yoga, hiking, dog training
I also invite you to include every job or job role you have ever had, every single way you have ever made money.
Mine would include:
Selling art and bath and body products
Fast Food Cashier
Retail Sales (clothing, books, calendars, inspirational products, furniture)
Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapist
Now I know you might protest and feel that listing some jobs is irrelevant, since they may seem to have nothing to do with your purpose.
But the fact is, the skills you had for the job or that you developed on the job are still valuable and part of what you have to offer.
For instance, I learned a lot about interacting with people professionally and pleasing my customers when working in fast food. Whenever anyone had to wait too long for their order, my team always gave them a little something extra :)
I also invite you to include any creative ways you made money as a child, since this is relevant too. I never had a lemonade stand or an allowance for chores, but I did go door to door in my neighborhood selling my chalk portraits, which looked a bit like this:
Haha–kind of embarassing to share! I used to get dimes and quarters for these :)
So after making your lists, look for the common thread.
In my case, I decided that I see myself as a creative guide.
All of my jobs and interests were about figuring out what people want and helping them get it, whether it’s what to have for lunch or a lifelong goal. And I have always looked for ways to make such mundane tasks fun and creative.
So after making your lists, I invite you to define the essence of your purpose and distill it into one or two words if possible.
I see this as an alchemical process, like breaking down a complex molecule into the most relevant and basic element for transformation—having a chemist for a father causes one to create such analogies;)
I believe that it is through digging deep into your primary singular element, that you can create alchemical transformation.
Exercise # 2: Answer This Question:
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Wow, this is an interesting one.
This question encourages you to dream very big.
If you answer this question and find that you are not actively pursuing your dream (the answer to the question) it’s probably because you don’t think it’s possible or you have some fear around it.
When I graduated from college, I told everyone that I wanted to go back to graduate school and get my doctorate in psychology.
But I kept stalling and putting it off, and I kept daydreaming about starting a business or learning about business.
When asked what I really wanted to do, I would say that I wanted to open my own retreat center–a kind of spa where people could come for a high end experience of psychotherapy, coaching, yoga, meditation, healthy organic food, and aromatherapy. I envisioned a place with relaxing gardens full of flowers, pathways for relaxing walks, and water fountains. But at age 23, it seemed impossible to open a place like this. It was what I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail.
Fortunately, I began to listen to this desire and tweak it over time. Since then, I’ve learned the benefits and freedoms of being able to centralize my business on line with the option to do these types of retreats on a short-term basis, if I choose.
I’ve come into alignment with my original desire, even though it has changed. I’ve decided to pursue it and risk the fear of failure.
How about you? What are you feeling called to do?
Exercise #3: Answer This Question:
If thousands of people who are loving, raving fans came to see you for what you share best, what would you be sharing with them?
This was probably the single most effective exercise I ever did, and that’s why I saved this one for last.
When I did this, I was completely unprepared for it. I was not actively trying to figure out my purpose, although that question was always in the back of my mind.
I was listening to an inspirational audio recording that ended with a powerful visualization exercise.
The exercise described standing in the wings of a stage, like behind a velvet curtain.
You imagine hearing thousands of roaring fans who have come to see what you have to share.
You walk out onto the stage and soak up all the love and adoration they are giving you.
Something makes you a star…
And then you ask yourself…what are you there to give them?
Why did they come to see you?
If there was one thing you could give them to absolutely blow them away, offer real value, and make a big difference in their lives– what would it be?
Your answer doesn’t have to be complex or mind-blowing.
Some examples given in the visualization exercise were that you could bake a pie or give a makeup tutorial.
For me, the answer that came loud and clear was, “I am a guide.”
What I would be sharing on stage is guiding information: sharing my stories and experiences as an offer to help others. Or I would be hearing the stories of others and offering understanding and solutions to their problems.
Listen to that whisper, whatever you have been resonating with in each of these exercises and allow it to permeate and grow with conviction.
Keep in mind that your purpose can be expressed in many ways—this is not meant to be limiting!
For instance, as a guide I could be a Life Coach, a psychologist, a shaman, a pastor, a teacher, a peer counselor, etc. The underlying purpose is the same, but how it is conveyed and shared changes with time, place, and culture.
My great friend and mentor Celestine Chua said it best when she said:
“Be loyal to your message, not the medium.”
So if you’re feeling limited or caged in by your purpose (which is often the case for those of us that have multiple interests), remember that there are many mediums through which you can convey your fundamental message, your purpose.
I hope these exercises have been helpful and that they’ve spoken to you with a clear message.
Leave a comment and share what you’ve discovered from these exercises. If you have a helpful exercise for discovering your purpose, please share that as well!
If you know someone who is struggling to figure out what their purpose is, feel free to share this article :)