Maybe it's human nature to want to find a meaning to everything. Could it be we are just here to live, breed and die? What if there is no real reason for anything? Well then I guess we need to find and create our own purpose in life. I guess that would mean our life is what we decide to make it.
We live our lives one day at a time, and most of us end up doing what's convenient at the time. We go to school because it's what people do. We took a job because someone said we are a hard worker. We settled down because we feel the time has to come eventually. We call it reality, but I can't help but wonder what kind of "reality" feels so fake and set up.
Why is it we all feel this burning desire to do something so different than what the world tells us to do? Can't we find a way to make the world run on the human spirit instead of just the mechanical operations of the day to day life? If so, how on earth would we find the ability to survive if no one saw past the "unemployed musician" or the "hopeless dreamer?"
Is there no longer a place in the world for a vision outside of the normal 9 to 5, and if so, what would be the way to find this new and beautiful "Life's Purpose?" I want to tell you what I believe the way to start would be and I'd love to know your thoughts on the subject as well.
I believe it starts with true self awareness. You have to be willing to look at yourself and eliminate ever excuse you have for your weaknesses and do away with the pride of your best strengths. The world is full of ego and self loathing. Neither is a tool for growth. Both will ensure a loss.
It starts by finding out what truly matters to you and how it lines up with who you are. For me it started with two questions;
1: What do you love to do? (passions)
2: What comes easiest to you? (your talents)
For those that are the luckiest, your talents will line up with what you love to do. If you love to play basketball but don't have a natural athleticism about you, well that means you have to put in more work than most of your teammates in order to become great at it.
If you are one of the lucky ones who happens to be talented in what you love to do, I almost feel worse for you. It becomes easy to get lazy in the things that come easiest to you. You should always work to develop your talents. Hard work will beat natural talent every time in the long run, and too often, those with the most talent don't learn to put in the work to keep up and will plateau quickly.
Once you have those simple questions answered, you move on to the next two questions in finding your purpose in life.
1: What 2 qualities do you enjoy spreading to the world? and
2: What ways to you enjoy expressing these qualities?
Maybe you're more sarcastic and want to get a laugh out of people. Others might prefer a more structured formula for getting the point across. Whatever it is, it should be your own answer and not the idea of another's version of the purpose.
Once you have an idea of how to answer those 4 questions, you will probably have a better idea of what it is you wish to have as your own life's purpose. At this time, maybe you'd be ready to put together a "Life Purpose Statement." Off the top of my head at this moment, I'd write mine as so;
"My purpose is to inspire young artists to reach for their goals and dreams in step by step realistic ways."
I'd encourage all to dig deep and follow their inner guidance to developing a purpose.
What does your heart tell you to do? Be true to that. It's like an inner GPS and if you don't follow it, you will always wonder if you could be doing something differently. Even if you fail, if you fail after being completely true to yourself, you will find more peace in the defeat than you will if you let other factors interfere with your decisions.
Just like a GPS you don't need to have all the answers right away. You only need the beginning location and the ending location. Decide where you want to go and visualize it. How you get there will come in time. You will find answers on the journey if you follow your own inner GPS. It will guide you in ways the mind alone cannot.
Clarity will be tough. I struggle with it every day when challenges or set backs come, but I never lose clarity about my purpose anymore. I have faith in my own abilities even when the answers don't come right away. I know the "How" will show itself and I will evolve and adapt to whatever I need to in order to find a solution. It truly gets easier in time, but the stress will always be a part of chasing something that most wont understand.
For me it came down to a moment I had to be really honest with myself about where I was and what I wanted to do. I was staying at a job that didn't make me happy and it wasn't serving the financial freedom I used as an excuse to keep doing it. It was effecting my relationships with my wife and kids along with my family but it wasn't taking care of them in the ways I felt it should based on what the world tells you for why we stay in those situations. My body was paying the price, but my world wasn't getting any better. I knew I needed to find another way. Barely getting by wasn't going to do it anymore and I couldn't see a light at the end of the tunnel like when I took the job 8 years prior.
Many would say it was a great job for the area I live in. I would 100% agree with them. It was a good job and the pay was decent. Very few jobs could compete with the benefits offered and the 401k plan was perfect. Not to mention I was good at the job. There wasn't much I couldn't handle there. I just wasn't happy. I knew it was eating me alive and the simple truth was, my reasons for staying where paying the biggest price for it. I was a worse husband and father because of the lack of purpose I felt at this really good job.
I did what I would call a "Passion test" not long before leaving that job. I literally wrote out the words, "My Life Is Ideal When" fifteen times on a piece of paper and stared at it for hours. It took my longer than I expected to actually come up with answers to what seems like an easy question to answer.
I thought I would go on and on about bills paid, a big house and promotions, but the reality was my answers were much more at home. In fact, just starting was the only hard part. Once I got the first 2 done, the rest just poured out of me and it changed my life. It changed my perspective at home and how I run my business now. It really made me realize what my life goals really were.
1; My life is ideal when I have a microphone in my hand.
2; My life is ideal when I can make someone feel like part of my shows.
3; My life is ideal when I finish another song I wrote.
4; My life is ideal when Jen tells me about her day.
5; My life is ideal when Damian shows his grandfather what he learned on guitar.
6; My life is ideal when Hailey shows me a song she wrote.
7; My life is ideal when I watch Sadie ignores every person in the room to play with the pets.
8; My life is ideal when Josiah and Brooke run around the house trying to escape their dad who is going to catch them and torture them with tickles.
9; My life is ideal when I'm out with my best friend talking about music and building something amazing.
10; My life is ideal when I come up with ways of making someone else smile for just a moment.
11; My life is ideal when my family is all together.
12; My life is ideal when there is peace between me and my ex wife.
13; My life is ideal when I've done something to make me a better man than yesterday.
14; My life is ideal when I can inspire someone to be greater than myself.
15; My life is ideal when my show becomes the audiences show.
Once I got my head straight on what my purpose was and set my life goals, I realized my biggest problem with my day job was that I didn't get any joy from the job. I had to dig deep once again and ask myself how can I make this dream a job and still feel happy about doing it for life. It was time to do a Joy/Fulfillment Review.
I asked myself, "when have I felt the most fulfillment and joy in life?" three times and looked for a pattern in the answers. What connected the three answers?
My answers were,
1; Substitute teaching in Oklahoma,
2; When each of my children were born,
3; A once a year traditional camping trip with my kids,
The connection for me was simply Freedom with a bigger purpose.
When I was teaching in Oklahoma, I was able to inspire these kids to be something greater. They looked at me like I was something bigger than I really was and it felt freeing.
When my children were born my life suddenly had a greater calling than anything I could have become without them. Though it was when my life gained the most responsibility, the idea of having someone completely new to the world to share it with was also freeing.
When I take my kids camping once a year it has become a kind of joke because it's often me and 5 kids trying to survive on a lake shore for a week.
Freedom is the only word I know to call it. I honestly cannot think of a better word to describe the feeling of the weight on my shoulders of the challenge with the eagerness to see where everything would end up. Without it, I would be a slave to a day to day life.
Now is where I talk about the evolution of a life purpose. Once you take in all these different factors, you can begin to align your life goals with your purpose statement. You can begin to objectively look at your gifts and weaknesses and figure out where you need to put in the work and where you just need to fine tune.
You can begin to set professional goals and ask yourself if your current situation is going to help get you where you want to go in the end. Is that job right for my future? Are those friends holding me back or pushing me forward? Do I need to rethink my habits in my free time?
Once you know your own personal goals and have your idea what your life's purpose is, you can truly move forward with more confidence and will be able to push aside the doubts brought on by others who may not understand what you are doing.
When I say evolve I mean to lean into your purpose. Don't jump off a bridge because you want to learn to swim. Go in slowly and take a little more risk every day till you're comfortable getting in the deep end, and if you're like me, your ideals will grow and change in time and with it your goals and purpose.
There is no "one answer" to this thing called life. No matter how much we plan and prepare, we will always get thrown some curve balls that will make us rethink life. Don't be afraid of change. Embrace it.
You don't have to understand the finish line.
Just start and the world will catch up.