Everyone around you is raving about how they have found their purpose and life is coming up roses.
But the more you work at finding your purpose, the less clarity you have, the worse you feel.
What is wrong with you?
What is finding your purpose about?
As humans we have long questioned, “What is the meaning of life?”. Aristotle declared that, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”. Plato felt the meaning of life was to rather attain the highest form of knowledge.
And nowadays, we have positive psychology and the life coaching movement. They have come along and suggested that the meaning of life is found in individual life purpose. When we identify and act out our personal, unique ‘one big thing’, life, apparently, suddenly makes sense.
And the Western World is hooked on the concept. In 2016, a large-scale global report backed by Linkedin showed that in some countries, over 50% of the workforce now rate ‘purpose’ as important. In fact 38% of workers globally felt ‘purpose’ was as important as money or status.
But is this Western idea of ‘life purpose’ the be all and end all? Is it even true that we all have an individual life purpose?
[Feel like a total failure lately? Little voice in your head telling you that your life has no purpose at all? It’s time to reach out for help. Book a Skype therapist today, be talking as soon as tomorrow.]
How life purpose can go wrong
photo by vladislav-babienko
The modern concept of ‘finding your life purpose’ comes with certain assumptions. The concept implies that we all:
enjoy interests that are limited to certain areas.
So what if you don’t match this list? If you are a creative person who thinks in circles, who has many talents and is always finding new ones? If you find joy through new experiences over progress, and like to have many projects on the go at once?
When finding life purpose leads to depression and anxiety
If we are a non-linear, multi-talented creative with many interests, trying to narrow our focus can feel limiting and oppressive.
And our inability to pinpoint a clear purpose can leave us feeling a failure. This can especially be true if we have adult ADHD, which already leaves us with low self-esteem about our different way of thinking.
We start to worry there is something wrong with us. ‘ ‘Why can’t I find my life purpose?’. ‘Am I just a failure, in the end?’
Or perhaps we decide on our life purpose, but we just can’t figure out how to make it actually happen. Our frustration grows.
Photo by Kristopher Roller
If everyone else around us is enthusiastically embracing the ‘find your purpose’ trend, shame can kick in. So we hide our worries. But they fester. Our worry turns to anxiety.
The more we come to the present moment, the more we notice the opportunities we actually have to create change. And the more aware we are of what we actually think and feel. Life becomes far more purposeful if we are more available to experiencing it.
What makes you feel more purposeful – doing things that leave you feeling energised and alive and good, or things that you ‘think’ are the ‘right’ things to do, but leave you exhausted and miserable?
When we gravitate towards things that raise our energy — ‘wellbeing activities‘ — we naturally align with our values.
Still have a question about finding your purpose? Or want to share your thoughts about life purpose? Use the public comment box below.
Writer: Andrea Blundell. Andrea is a psychology writer, personal development teacher, and the editor of of this blog. Diagnosed with adult ADHD at aged 22, she knows a thing or too about feeling like she has ten life purposes instead of one!