Updated: Apr 16
Have you ever laid in your bed at night wondering what your purpose is? The meaning of life? And after much tossing and turning, you wake up restless the next morning because you haven’t figured it out.
And after much tossing and turning, you wake up restless the next morning because you haven’t figured it out.
Pondering our purpose is a common habit, whether you’re graduating high school or frustrated with your life at 30 - it seems to follow us everywhere we go.
The truth is, there are a lot of common misconceptions and myths about “our purpose”. These can get in our heads and make us feel inadequate when we haven’t figured it out.
Common Myths About Your Purpose
1. It has to be one big, extraordinary thing
We’re often led to believe that our purpose is supposed to be this one big and radical thing. Something that’s impossible to miss. Because of film, TV, and other sorts of media, the connotation behind the term purpose itself gives the impression of something extraordinary.
But life is constantly evolving. The situations and circumstances in our lives are in a constant state of change. As life evolves, our purpose sometimes follows suit.
Something we may have believed to be our one big purpose when we were 22 years old might be completely different from the revelations of our purpose at age 30. And that’s okay.
Putting pressure on having one big, radical “purpose” limits us from the magic of having a culmination of small purposes. I’ll talk about this more later in the article.
Sure, some people know their purpose and desires for life at a young age and they don’t change. But for the majority of us, its subject to change.
2. It’s determined by our socioeconomic status
Many people who endured a challenging childhood due to social or economic status often grow up to believe they are “unlucky”. As a result, it is common for these people to believe their aspirations and “purpose” have to be limited — that even if you dream of big things, they are unachievable due to one’s status.
It’s common to believe that if you come from a low-income family, or have a history of trauma or struggle, that you are one of the “unlucky ones”. That you are destined for mediocrity at best.
This mentality is far from the truth. If you look at some of the most successful athletes, motivational speakers, authors, talk show hosts, artists, etc — so many of them came from deep struggle and created something so beautiful with their life.
We may not all be born into great circumstances. But we all have a fire inside of us that, when ignited, we can truly achieve anything.
3. It’s something you will achieve later in life
Another common belief is that our purpose is something we will achieve once we get to a certain point in life - whether that’s our career, our personal aspirations, our relationships, etc.
The problem with this belief is that it assumes our purpose is rooted in the future, when it’s actually rooted in the present moment. Of course, for certain goals and aspirations, we have to make progress to reach the “success” point. But the weight of our purpose should not be placed just in the end result.
It’s the journey that matters.
4. If you don’t know your purpose by a certain age, you don’t have one
Since there are a lot of people who seem to know their purpose at a young age (like prodigy musicians or human rights activists) we can be led to believe that if you haven’t figured it out by a certain age, you’re probably just “ordinary” and don’t really have a purpose.
The thing is, purpose is subjective. For one person, it may mean saving an entire country, and for another person, it may mean spreading love and kindness to everyone. Both are equally powerful, because both are subjectively important to each person.
The Truth About Your Purpose
When we worry about figuring out our purpose, we are placing pressure on it. And when we place this pressure to unravel the mystery of our purpose, we are assuming it’s something far away from us. We’re viewing our purpose as something we don’t have yet. We are taking our purpose out of the present moment and viewing it as something in our future.
Reality of the Present Moment
The fact of the matter is that life is truly only made up of the present moment. The “now”. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before.
It’s ridiculously easy to get caught up in the past or thoughts of the future. It’s easy to forget to be present. Almost too easy. But the present moment is all we have.
When we spend our time being upset over the past, we are missing our own life. We aren’t living in the moment we have. The same goes for when we spend our time worrying about our future.
The thing about the moment we have right now is that it’s a miracle. It’s a treasure that can truly be gone at any moment. We are used to existing and always having a tomorrow, so it’s almost second nature to take life for granted.
So what does all of this have to do with our purpose?
It’s simple. We place so much pressure and stress on our big “purpose”, that we miss the truth of the matter. Which is this:
Since life is really only made up of the present moment, our purpose should be rooted in the now.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t have big goals, or a purpose that involves working towards something. It just means we should reframe the way we think about our purpose in order to fulfill it every day.
Reframing Our Purpose
To reframe our purpose to align with the present moment, we just have to pay some attention to our life. Look at the facts and then explore them.
• Life is only made up of consecutive present moments
• How we feel in life is determined by how we feel in our present moments
• True purpose is driven by passion and how we feel
• When you take a look at these factors, you might start to connect the dots.
It’s completely natural to want our purpose to be something magnificent. For it to be a big goal that we accomplish. For it to be something we really work towards.
That’s the passion part of our purpose — the thing in our soul that ignites us, pushes us forward, and gives us some bigger idea to live for.
The mistake most people make when they don’t know what they are truly passionate about is thinking they haven’t found their purpose. But since purpose is rooted in the only thing we have, which is the present moment, it’s something everyone already has.
“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” ― Roy T. Bennett
So keeping our purpose alive and continually fulfilled, we must look at the present moment.
Looking at the Present Moment
We’ve established the significance of the present moment. When we connect it to our purpose, there are only a few factors that really matter:
• The way we want to feel
• The way we want to make others feel
• The actions we do to make these things happen
Answer these questions to guide you with your present-moment-purpose:
How do you want to feel?
How do you want to make others feel?
What actions can you do today to make yourself feel that way?
What actions can you do today to make others feel that way?
When we honor the present moment in this way, we are living as fully as we can. And when we do this, with acknowledging how we want to feel and the way we want to make others feel, we are continually fulfilling our present-moment purpose.
A Final Reflection
When we redirect how we think about our purpose, we are likely to find it much faster. We won’t be looking for things that are bigger and better than our neighbor. We won’t be putting pressure on ourselves to commit to some big idea that will change the world.
We will instead listen to our heart, our body, and our mind. True purpose is driven by passion. And passion is something we already have about something - you might already know yours. And you might not.
Not knowing is actually super exciting — it just means you have some exploring to do. It means the world is at your fingertips, and you’d be surprised at what ignites your soul with joy.
At the core of it, we can always find pieces of our purpose in what makes us feel good. If we mindfully pursue the things that light up our life and the lives of those around us, we will be fulfilling our purpose.