The Importance of Finding Purpose

The idea of ‘finding your purpose’ can be all sorts of scary. Call me a cynic, but the idea has been appropriated by all manner of gurus, counsellors, and coaches who don’t have entirely noble intentions. It is not uncommon to see ads proclaiming to help you find your purpose (at a cost) and achieve a lifetime of happiness.

It sounds cliched, I know this, but I have found that a sense of purpose can only come from within. While I acknowledge that it is not as black and white as this, as different people have different struggles, ultimately, it is as black and white as this.

It just requires honesty, and perhaps a little bravery.

I want to be clear also that purpose and passion are two entirely different things. Again, the idea of ‘finding your passion’ has been appropriated for marketing value and has come to be a meaningless statement. We’ve been sold this idea, but at best it may be something temporary, at worst it is a flakey premise with little or no substance. But purpose is something else entirely.

As soon as I let go of the anxiety around  ‘finding my life purpose’ (as if it was a singular golden ticket to a happy life) and sat with the idea of peaks and troughs, my life became much more purposeful and deeply satiating on many different levels.

For some, their purpose maybe getting up each day to tend to their children – creating and nurturing family life, for others it may be to create art, or for others, go to their place of work and do a day of honest graft. Different things appeal to different people. But finding your purpose, to me, is about feeling like you are home when you are doing what ever it is.

I’ve accepted that purpose is fluid; just like people. It seems crazy to me that you discover something and expect that one thing to fulfil you forever more. Growth comes through continuing to explore multiple purposes in life.

I’m grateful that I’ve never got caught up in the idea of status. I don’t care what car I drive, as long as it’s safe, I don’t care that I don’t live in a castle; I only want my home to be a haven. I’m not fussed about fancy clothes – I want to feel good and comfortable. I don’t care that I am not changing the world or saving the world from itself.

I’ve found purpose in doing enough paid work to help pay the bills, but not so much that my children never see me. I’ve found purpose in temporary projects, like the #100dayproject (which I’ve written about here), I’ve found purpose in planning our next family adventure to Vietnam, I’ve found purpose in baking a simple treat for my family.

I guess what I’m getting at is that purpose is fluid, and it can be whatever brings you joy, motivation, contentedness. Yearning is natural, that cliche “the grass is always greener”, it’s a cliche for a reason – because of the truth in it. I yearn for many things – sometimes those yearnings are in conflict and soon dissipate, other yearnings are more consistent, and longer lasting. When I follow these up it helps bring me my sense of purpose.

In paying attention to what brings me this sense of purpose, I’ve also established what I don’t want from life. I don’t want to be harried and rushed and hassled, because it leaves me irritable and grumpy. I don’t want to be anyone’s slave or a slave to any one thing. There’s no satisfaction in being a martyr. I don’t want to accumulate much of anything – not money, not clothes, not modern gadgets.

Filtering in both directions – looking at what you don’t want, and then seeing what nourishes you, is a great exercise. Essentially it is about being mindful (that ole buzzword!), and tuning in to yourself – often we have found our purpose already, but just haven’t taken the time to notice.

I’m interested in this idea of purpose and what it means to others.

I’d love to hear what brings you to your sense of purpose? 

Womenfolk Series: Elizabeth McDonald – Meet My Mum

IMGP1039As most of you know, our family lost our Mum three years ago and we still feel her absence keenly. On Mothers Day in particular – not just because it’s Mothers Day, but because Mothers Day marks the beginning of the end of her life. Mothers Day was the last time I saw her at home. It was the last day we shared a cuppa, and the last day that we had a proper conversation. After that, for the next couple of weeks, it was just the hospital bedside, and Mum, asleep.

But I don’t want to dwell on the sadness, or how keenly I feel her absence. Or how much I know she would have loved my three-year old, if she’s had the chance to get to know her. I’m not dwelling on that, because it makes me sad.

I want you people to get a feel for the woman that she was. So today for my Womenfolk series, I introduce you to Elizabeth McDonald, my Mum. [Read more…]

Authenticity – Just How Authentic Is It?

Hell yeah

Flowers styled by Martine Cook at The Whistle

When you work in the ‘online’ world, the concept of authenticity is always amongst the chatter. To succeed as an online writer, you have to be ‘authentic’, prove your authenticity. It’s overuse is becoming somewhat tiresome to me, and when I hear someone spouting how authentic they are, I struggle to stop the sneer from ruining my happy-selfie face.

The thing is, by virtue of working online you must orchestrate, curate and create in order to find your place. And you must convince. This is why it is also known as the ‘virtual’. So why bang on about being ‘authentic’ when the concept of online authenticity is an oxymoron? It automatically leaves me skeptical.

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” – Hamlet, Act III, Scene II

[Read more…]

Hello 2016 – and My Word for The Year

DSC_0023I’m not going to bore you with the personal goals I have set for 2016, but I will tell you that I’ve decided on the tone for the year and it was informed by three words that appear in my Dad’s veggie patch. SLOW. BREATHE. SMILE.

Finding a balance between the ‘big stuff’ such as career goals, creative or personal goals and the ‘small stuff’, such as feeling happy and energised in your day to day life, is a tough undertaking – often the big stuff dwarfs the small stuff and life can get a bit overwhelming.

I’ve been pondering this blog post for at least a couple of weeks – it’s been a good six weeks since I’ve posted. And as seems to happen at this time of year, I become paralysed in my contemplations. Releasing a full year is no small feat and I find that I am overwhelmed by the significance of it.  [Read more…]

You Don’t HAVE to be Amazing…

Why Be Normal When you can be Amaaazing

 

I read a great article by Mark Manson the other day. It was called ‘Screw finding your passion’. It resonated with me so much. People out there are torturing themselves over finding this elusive thing called ‘their passion’. He offers some great advice – have a read of the article here.

But what it sparked in me, and it’s something that I’ve wanted to write about for a while, is that it is OK not to be Amaaaazing. It’s ok to just be, well, normal…and average. Like most of us are. We are harangued by an avalanche of images in the media of fit, gorgeous bodies (and this is not just women, it is men as well). Gorgeous people doing fabulous things. But life just isn’t like that; the sad thing about the curated world that surrounds us, is that it might inspire some but mostly it just makes people feel a bit shitty, and a bit not good enough. [Read more…]