The evidence is well researched and clear. If you want a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in your life, live with a clear sense of ‘life-time purpose’. Whilst it is often a person’s decision to live life on a minute by minute, day by day basis, thinking only of how they can stave off the boredom and frustrations of everyday life and provide for daily needs, many more down the centuries have found something richer. A purpose inspired life. And you don’t have to be a saint to do it.
External or Internal?
The concept of being guided by a sense of internal or external purpose appears to be unique to human beings. We love to have meaning for what we do, and to know our function – our “job description.”
On the basis that a craftsman will take raw materials and invest time and energy into developing them for a given purpose, some people give added special meaning to their lives as they believe an EXTERNAL influence – ‘someone’ or ‘something’, a spiritual influence, Creator or divine Being perhaps – has ‘arranged’ for them to exist in this time and place, and may believe “we are put on this earth for a purpose.” We call this having a sense of ‘given’ purpose.
Others people may have the belief that it is entirely up to us, that the existence of human beings and what they choose to do and have is a matter of chance and personal choice, in INTERNAL decision, in which case any sense of purpose for them is a ‘chosen’ purpose.
Whether you believe that any sense of purpose you have is external or internal, there is plenty of evidence that giving significant attention to how you are going to live your life, having a clear sense of direction is highly satisfying. Alongside that sense of direction can go a set of guiding principles on how you are going to fulfil that purpose – your moral code.
Identify your current belief:
Do you think that your purpose is primarily influenced by yourself or someone/something beyond you?
Purpose is determined by … SELF 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 BEYOND (Circle a number)
With a little practice it is possible to take what is called a ‘meta’ view of yourself and your life, seeing yourself from outside. The word meta means ‘above and beyond’ and we use it in psychology to help provide some sort of objective view – in as far as it is possible to do so.
By varying the distance that separates that ‘you’ over there from this ‘you’ holding and reading this paper, we can create a sense of ‘dissociation’. You’ll perceive yourself differently. The further away you set that other ‘you’ the less you are emotionally caught up with them, their emotions, behaviour and thoughts. The ideal distance is usually one that means you know what they are thinking and feeling, and see what they are doing, but feel part of those thoughts and actions. It’s like watching yourself on video – you recognise it is you but you are separate from it.
Imagine you are sitting several metres away, ‘over there’, but as you are now, reading this. Look at that ‘you over there’. What are you wearing? What is that person thinking? How happy is ‘you over there’?
You can now reverse it. Imagine you are over there looking back at the person here, where you are now.
The Purpose Question
The following Purpose Question gives you an opportunity to identify your own thoughts as to what you may think or believe would be a motivating and inspiring long-term primary purpose for your life, and integrates both the external (given) and internal (chosen) approaches mentioned above:
“Imagine that someone beyond yourself (someone who loves you unconditionally, wants the best for you and knows all about you, knows your deepest thoughts, character, strengths, weaknesses and longings, and accepts you just as you are) has chosen an inspiring, motivating and satisfying purpose for the whole of the rest of your life, a purpose that you can fulfil every day. What did they decide?”
Write down your answer. What might be their reason(s) for choosing this purpose as most suitable for you?
Check it out
1. Sit down one-to-one with two or three people who know you well and will be truly honest with you and ask them what they think about the ethicality, and appropriateness of your ‘draft’ Purpose. Choose people who you think live purposefully and are themselves people of integrity. They may be older than you and wiser, though not always. Young people can be very astute and very honest!
2. Listen receptively to what they say and consider whether they may be right or not.
Don’t defend yourself. You need to know what they think and defending yourself will close them down.
3. Listen carefully and note down their comments.
4. If you have a trained personal coach or mentor, such a person may be ideal. Be flexible enough to adjust, modify and refine what you’re identifying as your personal Purpose, based on their comments. Every sense of purpose needs to be strong enough to stand the test of time. A life-purpose lasts a lifetime. Don’t rush creating it.
Needless to say, I’d love to help you – or one of our Powerchange team will. just contact us via powerchange.com.