What is your purpose? This is the question that terrified me. I was clueless. I didn’t know what a purpose was, let alone what was my purpose, but I was determined to find out. I embarked on a search for purpose that took me across the world, visiting ashrams in India, attending personal development courses in America and a lot in-between! It cost me a lot of money and confusion. In the final analysis, I concluded that purpose is an idea which lives within you.
I don’t believe that there is one definition of purpose, however the definition that works for me is:
A personal purpose is an aspirational reason for being. It is a deep conviction about what is true for you that inspires and provides a call to action. A personal purpose has a timeless quality, which is beyond circumstance and guides the direction for your life.
Simply your purpose is your ‘raison d’etre’. Your reason for existence, innate to you and within your DNA. You are born with a purpose. Part of your life’s journey is to discover what it is. Your life’s joy is to live it.
There are a couple of other definitions of purpose which resonate with me:
Knowing the “True North” of your internal compass. Your True North represents who you are as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track.
Bill George, author of Discover Your True North
Your Why is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you.
Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why
Your purpose is not a goal. Growing up maybe you thought your purpose was to get good grades. Then maybe you thought your purpose was to get a boy or a girlfriend. Then maybe you thought your purpose was to look cool. Then maybe you thought your purpose was to climb the corporate ladder. Get married. Have children. Purchase a house, cars, holidays. It’s all great stuff, but it’s not your purpose. These are goals, i.e. what you want to achieve.
Your purpose is not a value. A personal value is a deeply held belief in which you have an emotional investment and influences your behaviour. Values tend to come from learned experience. For example, someone told me how aged 8 they were walking home from school, found a pound coin on the pavement, went to their local shop and bought a bag of sweets. Upon arriving home, they were confronted by their mother who demanded to know where they got the sweets. When they explained about finding the pound, the mother walked them back to the shop, handed back the sweets, took the coin, marched them to the bank and handed it in. The child learned the values of honesty and integrity. Values are how you live.
The golden thread in life is to have your purpose (why), values (how) and goals (what) joined up and heading in the same direction.