Seeking the Purpose of Your Life
Making a difference in the world around you is the separation between a life lived, and a life well lived
There is a quiet awakening that eventually finds us all; the day where you begin to think beyond yourself and consider for the first time not just how to live, but what does your life mean?
We get caught up in career, spouses, friends and family, getting by each day as best we can. The days pass quickly, then we find ourselves in our 30s, and for many this is the age where we question for the first time if what we have is what we really wanted from our own lives?
My questioning moment came at a career development workshop in San Francisco. There was about 20 of us who had put in a full day working on career paths, money, and how to figure out if the career track you were following was going to take you to your goals.
We finished the day, the locals left for their commute home, and I was sitting alone in the hotel bar waiting for an early morning flight. The course instructor, a confident professor/consultant who had specialized in careers for several decades, came in, saw me, and sat down. I bought him a drink and we spent several hours just talking.
I was the pest of all workshops, asking every question I could summons since I had him trapped at the bar, and I was buying the drinks, but I did manage to surprise him with one question he said he had never been asked, “What is the one thing you would love to teach us in the workshop that you just can’t?”
“I am paid to talk about how you live now, but my purpose and passion, and the subject we can’t get into in this type of workshop, is not how you live, but why are we here at all?” he said.
“The question you should be asking yourself at this stage of your life is beyond what your career means. You should be asking what is the purpose of my life, why am I here, and most importantly, what am I doing in this world that matters to anyone?” he added
Our conversation lasted through more drinks, dinner, and until the bar closed. He started me on my first life quest reading list and we stayed in touch for years until he retired…and I have been wrestling with those questions every single day of my life since I met him.
Many people intellectually understand the questions, but few are willing to explore the answers in their own lives, because so many of us live with the doubt that we matter, or we don’t believe we can make any difference in the world, no matter what we do.
Often these questions are framed in a search for faith and God, but anyone seeking a life that matters needs to look within to find a meaning in your own life, no matter what path you are on
Asking a person, “Why are you here? Does your life matter?” has probably scared more people into running away from faith and God than any other question you could ask. We find it easy to discuss careers and money, the secondary issues of a life that matters, but we find it extremely difficult to consider whether the life we choose makes a difference to anyone while we are here, or when we are gone, did we leave the world better than when we found it?
Not knowing our purpose leaves a void in our lives that cannot be filled; but asking about purpose, and finding we do not have one, can leave us in worse shape than never questioning in the first place.
We are often afraid to ask because we believe finding purpose means then carrying a burden thrown on us by a God willing to test the boundaries of our strength. If we don’t ask, we don’t know, and we can avoid again the need to help those beyond helping ourselves.
But you are here for a purpose, and while the answer may not come to you without a lot of work, if at all, just the act of asking “Why?” forces you to live at a higher level than other people not willing to seek can achieve in their lives.
Seeking is a power within itself, and while you may never find the answers, just asking gives you a deeper connection to the universe, and faith, because you are now at least open to the idea you do matter and there is a reason you are here.
It is like the old story on faith. The guy begs every night to God to let him win the lottery, he promises to give much away to help others, he cries that he needs the money. This goes on for months, and finally, out of frustration, the man drops to his knees and screams, “God, why have you abandoned me?” God answers, “You could at least meet me halfway and buy a ticket.”
Seeking is meeting halfway. You open yourself to a universe that now finds you receptive to the possibilities of all you can do, and all you can be.
Even the dazed and confused on the path of faith can benefit from asking the big “Why?” Asking, “Why and I here?” and “What am I doing with my life?” are questions that simply lead you to being a better version of yourself over time, and once asked, opens your mind to possibilities that might not have earlier been seen.
Many people wait until they are too old to ask themselves this question. Waiting until you are a person of “a certain age” is waiting too long. You want to seek, and explore, who you are, and where you are going, early in life; then make these questions a part of your constant search to grow and evolve throughout your life’s journey.
There is a difference between finding your life’s work and finding your purpose in life. What you do for work may change a number of times throughout your working days, and in a life well lived, you should explore different work choices and take the risk that comes with setting out on new career paths.
Last century work ethic said your choice of work defines your life, but today it is how you choose to do whatever work you commit to doing that defines the quality of your life
Being engaged in your work, giving it everything you have, and only doing work you find interesting and meaningful, is more important than the money you might make, or the size of the house you might have one day, but the work you do is not who you are and why you are here.
But why do we exist at all — a question that can never be fully answered, but one important to how you grow as a person in life? Your purpose on this earth may never be defined clearly for you, but what you do while you are here, the reason we are alive, comes back to one basic rule:
Making a difference, or leaving the world a better place because you were here, is the separation between a life lived, and a life well livedspir
Making a difference is also the key to leaving the world remembered as a person who improved the lives around her, or just leaving — soon to be forgotten by everyone.
You encounter many people who exist to take what they can get from others. The taker wants everyone to serve his needs, while giving nothing back that matters.
The giver is the person who is willing to help others, improve his community, follow a career that supports the lives of those around her, and who lives each day by trying to change the world she touches.
It is contradictory in thought, but takers usually end up with nothing of value in their lives, while the givers end up surrounded by friends, family and money. Maybe it is the karma thing, or just the graciousness of a God rewarding people willing to give; but striving to make a difference in the world almost always leads to a life full of abundance, opportunity and rich in family and friends.
Your life can be built upon this premise: It is always more important to help someone, even if he or she can’t repay today, or maybe ever, just for the feeling it gives to help a person who needs guidance, or worse was down and out in life; but it seems the more you give away, the more you receive and what comes back always exceeds what went out.
You may never understand your purpose as to why you exist, but you can find a reason to live. Your reason to live a life that matters is to make a difference, change the world around you every day for the better, and to leave your little slice of this planet better than when you found it.