If you could do anything in your life right now – what would it be? If you were asked to define a purpose of your life – could you? If you can’t answer either question, you’re not alone. They’re such small questions but are increasingly asked as our lives get busier and everyone else’s needs and expectations seem to get met before our own.
Do I think we have just one purpose in our life? No. But I do think that people who are able to identify what they want are surer at knowing their current life purpose (or life purposes) and are therefore more able to enjoy what they’re doing. In this article I share the experience of my friend Vikki and some simple steps you can take to clarify and focus your thoughts.
Vikki is 52, vivacious, confident, a mother of two teenage daughters and has just changed everything in her life based on the fact that she wasn’t living the life she wanted – even though lots of her friends thought she was.
“I had always listened to the words ‘be true to your path’ and I thought that I was following mine, until I realized that I had no idea what my path looked like (because I thought my job was my path), Life Coach let alone where it was going,” she said. “I was always a person who ‘had to know’ what was happening for me – always in control, in a high powered job where I was perceived to be very successful based on the growth of the business, the caliber of clothing I wore, the amount I felt needed and recognized in my role and the expectations of what a successful person has, sounds, looks and acts like.
As a single mother and a woman I never said ‘no’ if something didn’t suit me because I was used to feeling needed. I liked the validation of that feeling and being able to fix everything for everyone in my life, from my daughters to my workmates to the men I was dating.
In August last year I completed a four month mentoring course for my business and at the conclusion I realized with a thud that the business set-up and situation I was in was not going to keep working. Why? Because I didn’t want it to continue the way it was just to keep my two male business partners comfortable, even though I truly thought it defined me and was absolutely ‘my purpose’. Instead of accepting what was expected of me, which would have run me into the ground with even more exhaustion than I already had, I decided to simplify not just my job – but also my life. I created something new for myself, even though I had no idea what it would be, how it would look or when it would happen.”
Finding Freedom and Terror
Vikki made some massive changes including selling her share of the business; selling the family home which had been damaged in storms and not felt the same since the repairs; moving into a city apartment with her daughters; and most importantly, trusting herself.
“There was a massive amount of freedom that came with the decision to walk away from my business followed closely by moments of sheer terror and panic at what I had done,” Vikki said. “It’s been over six months now and I have had three or four serious occasions where I have thought that I should never have given my business up, and the change of location with my daughters to the city has not been successful so we’re moving to a better location for us, but compared to everything I’ve gained the doubts and disappointments are very minimal.
I have a male friend who recently told me that I inspired him. Me? How? I asked in disbelief. He said he thought I was the bravest person he knew for making the changes that I have. He has now gone overseas for several months because he’s always wanted to but was previously stopped by convention, expectation, habit and routine after 20 years in the same job. I’m amazed that I can still inspire even though I’m not doing a professional role that previously I would have expected myself to have to inspire in.
What Vikki’s Learned
I really want to share what I’ve learned, not just about myself, but about how much women especially can gain by taking the time to listen to themselves. Sometimes it’s just as much about defining what we don’t want in order to find what we do want.
1.For the first time in my life I have truly trusted myself. I didn’t know what my path looked like and I still don’t fully know – and that’s okay – but I’ve realised that my passion is to nurture and as long as I’m following that, the opportunities will grow;
2.I feel liberated and have honest, real choices in my personal and professional life based on what I want because I’ve gained time. Time to think, rest, enjoy and be – in fact I now define success by having the time for what I want to do and working my life to suit my needs;
3.In walking away from my business I’ve been free and available for the first time to deal with issues related to my daughters and difficulties they are having. It’s been tough but it has allowed for honesty and growth on both sides;
4.For the first time ever I have a clear slate in my personal life where I’m not controlling my relationships with men. Finally – I realised I’m happy to wait to meet the right person rather than be with people to fill time and make myself feel needed;
5.I’m so grateful that I can deal with things when they come up now and keep learning from them and I feel a gentleness with everything because I’m not game playing – in business, in dating, with my daughters, with everyone.
For too long I was too scared to stop and be myself and now I feel grounded, centred and totally accountable to myself and for what I’m doing.”
Start with Your Own Small Step
While Vikki’s story may seem like an extreme example of identifying what you want and making changes in your life to suit, it doesn’t have to involve massive upheaval. By taking ten minutes out of your day you can begin to look at where you are now and where you want to be.
How do you start to define your life purpose (or purpose at the moment) and clarify what you want?
1.Ask yourself these questions: Who am I? Who do I love and love having in my life? Who and what do I not want to be a part of my future? Who and what do I want to be in my future? If I had the most incredibly strong, professional and matured approach to what I love doing, in what format would I want to establish that capacity and work with it? In other words, what would I love to be doing more than anything else in my life?