Monday, May 21, 2012

Finding Your Purpose

As I write this it is the long-weekend here in Canada and I am enjoying the break up at our family cottage.  Okay... 'break' might be a bit of a misnomer since I am busy cleaning out cupboards of any traces of the mice that decided to join us over the colder winter months, cleaning out the gardens, putting the dock in... and whatever pieces of work I've brought with me from the office because... there's always something!

However, it is a totally different environment from the one I left behind and it definitely feels 'break-like' because of that.  As I sit here, early morning, sipping my Chai and watching the mist rise from the lake as the sun catches hold, the sole loon drifting past the end of the dock...  it seems the perfect time and place to think about the concept of Purpose.

I just finished a number of weeks of intensive coaching sessions.  Although we were there for an entirely different intent, it was interesting how often people would ask me what 'work' I thought they were suited for.  They were looking for some direction in finding work that was more satisfying to them, that seemed to 'fit' them better than what they were currently doing.  In essence, they were wondering if I had insights into their Purpose.

Like many, they were frustrated that others had seemingly found 'it' while they continued to struggle with finding anything that seemed to resonate within them, something that filled them with joy, satisfaction or... calling.  I recently came across a great exercise designed to help you discover your Purpose.  Anyone can do this exercise... even those of you that do not believe in the concept of Purpose!  This is taken from the blog of Steve Pavlina, a Personal Development guru.  I do recommend checking out his website (

The Exercise:  Sit down in a quiet place at a time that you won't be disturbed (and yes, this means no phone calls, text messages or emails either!).  Take out a blank piece of paper, write My Life's Purpose across the top and... start writing.  Write down anything and everything that comes to mind.  No qualifying.  It doesn't matter if it's practical, doable or even remotely interesting to you.  Keep writing.

Push out the thoughts as though it's your life's mission to fill page after page of ideas.  As Steve puts it, you keep writing ...
...until you have the answer that makes you cry.  This is your purpose.
For some this will come quickly, you are looking for the moment where you write down an idea that fills you with emotion.  You might experience smaller emotional moments along the way that are signs you are getting closer to your true purpose.  It is that larger emotional surge, the idea that resonates fully within you, that defines your purpose.  You don't even have to believe in the idea of  a life's purpose for this exercise to work!

The perfect exercise to do at the end of the dock on a peaceful day at the cottage, or on your back patio, in a coffeeshop with your favourite beverage, or hunkered down over your kitchen table.  The location doesn't matter.  You can do it on a laptop, in a journal or on the back of a napkin.  Hmmm... make that napkins...  you're going to need a bunch!  The main point of course is that you need to DO the exercise, not just think about it.  I'm heading out to the end of the dock, you head on out to what is going to be comfortable for you.

Let me know how this goes for you, what you discover... I'm anticipating a more Purpose-ful and Purpose-filled life.  Not a bad outcome at all!

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