In over 8 years of doing healing sessions with hundreds of clients, the essential question that has come up over and over is: What is my true purpose? What’s the deeper meaning and purpose of my life?
I can understand why people are so eager to figure this out. Why it matters to them more than anything else. (This is why I’ve designed an entire course to help people with this: Journey to the Center of Yourself)
The consequences of not knowing your purpose can be really painful.
A CRISIS OF PURPOSE
We live in a modern world that prioritizes productivity, speed, technological advancement, and external accomplishments above introspection, living a heart-centered life, moving at our own natural pace, and being deeply connected to our internal, Soul-level purpose.
Unless we’re really mindful, it’s easy to fall into the trap of living according to others’ rules, expectations, and value systems.
If this happens, we lose touch with our inner compass. With our built-in system of intuition and clarity, which seeks to lead us towards a life of expansion, fulfillment, and purposeful living.
Trying to navigate the chaotic modern world without your inner compass is nearly impossible. It leads to exhaustion, burnout, confusion, lack of direction, even physical dis-ease.
When you’re out of touch with your inner compass, you can’t know or align with your Soul-level purpose. So you tend to:
- feel that life lacks meaning and direction
- feel like you’re going through the daily motions, but not really living to your full potential or creating something you’re really proud of
- feel aimless, lost, confused
- feel a recurrent sense of dissatisfaction at work or at home (or both)
- try to accomplish things in life to feel ok and to feel meaningful, but often find that your unhappiness returns shortly after achieving something
- feel restless, like there’s something you’re meant to be doing but don’t know what
I myself experienced a crisis of purpose after spending 10 years building a successful career in academia. (Successful based on our culture’s value system and external measures of success.)
Internally, this career was leaving me parched in a lot of ways. I was thirsty and hungry for different kind of work, in a different setting, where I could fully express my gifts of empathy, intuition, and sensitivity.
I started feeling a sense of grief in my heart, which got stronger and stronger.
Eventually, I had to make the scary decision to leave academia to launch my spiritual business. (You can hear me speak about this process on my friend Johnny’s podcast.)
That turned out to be the best decision of my life. Since then, I’ve aligned fully with my true purpose and have helped hundreds of people align with theirs, as well.
The transformation that happens when someone finally discovers and begins living their purpose is remarkable. I’ve seen clients literally come back to life, or feel truly alive for the first time, as we walk through this process together.
But why are so many people in our modern world kept awake at night by that question: What is my true purpose?
THE OBSTACLES: What keeps you from knowing and living your purpose?
These are the most common obstacles I’ve observed in clients.
OBSTACLE 1: Fear of change
Some people, especially if they’ve felt a lack of purpose for a long time, don’t believe me (at first!) when I say they have the answers within themselves. That they have a powerful inner guidance system, and that on some level they already have the answer within – the answer to what is my life’s purpose?
In many cases, underneath this disbelief or skepticism – if I knew the answer already, I’d be living my purpose! – is a strong fear of change.
Fear of having to make changes.
Fear of letting go of the old and familiar, even if it hasn’t been serving us for a long time.
Fear that if we really listen to and follow our heart, we’ll make a terrible mistake or do something we’ll regret later on.
I can relate to these fears! I felt intense fear at the prospect of leaving academia – with a stable salary, benefits, a prestigious career – to start my own business from scratch.
So I can understand why people often have resistance to truly getting quiet and listening to their heart, to their inner compass. What if their heart asks them to change in a major way?
The changes they would have to make – like leaving a job, or starting a job or business, or leaving a marriage, or going back to school – feel so threatening to the status quo, that the ego self throws up all kinds of resistance and reasons not to.
This resistance can cloud up your inner guidance to the point where you can’t hear it anymore, and so you think you don’t have the answers within. That you need someone outside of yourself to tell you what your purpose is (which never really works).
OBSTACLE 2: Fear of rejection
In many ways, the fear of rejection is at the core of our human experience.
Once we realize that not everyone will love us, not everyone will accept us, that others can and will criticize us sometimes…
…we can spend the rest of our lives trying to avoid rejection and criticism at all costs. Especially if we had a traumatic experience of being rejected, bullied, criticized, or humiliated in some way while growing up.
This kind of trauma can create a very strong self-protective inner system, where we back away and try to hide as soon as it feels like someone is about to – or might – reject us.
Other coping mechanisms include apologizing for everything, over-giving so that others won’t reject us, or playing small and not really taking any risks in your life.
The fear of rejection might also keep you from discovering and living your purpose because you’re not sure if others will accept you.
When I left academia, a few colleagues and former friends were not accepting of my choice – especially since I left to do spiritual work. Not prestigious! Not academic! Maybe they thought I’d gone crazy.
But I had to follow my heart anyway.
A couple of important questions here are: In which ways are you allowing others’ opinions, or potential opinions, of you hold you back? Are you abandoning yourself by prioritizing others’ expectations or potential reactions to you? And what are you losing by doing so?
OBSTACLE 3: Fear of not knowing how
In many healing sessions I’ve done, it’s easy for clients to daydream or fantasize about their purpose. To talk about their purpose as a maybe-one-day-in-a-distant-future kind of thing. As something that’s nice to dream about, but unrealistic to think they could actually live their purpose.
What typically happens here is that people shut down their heart to protect themselves – often due to another fear: the fear of failure – and retreat into their logical, rational, linear minds.
In their rational minds, it seems impossible. These kinds of questions come up:
- how can I actually live my purpose, realistically?
- how would my purpose fit into my life? (hint: maybe it wouldn’t! Maybe you need to re-shuffle your life to make it fit your purpose)
- how will I make money living my purpose?
- what will I tell my spouse/kids/parents/coworkers/friends? Won’t they think I’m crazy, or have lost it, or am being selfish?
- what can I offer or contribute that someone else isn’t already doing?
- how will I afford to go back to school/get trained for this?
- how can I make the BIG changes this would require me to make?
- do I have what it takes?
You get the point.
These are the endless questions of the ego mind, which doesn’t want things to change. So it throws up as many points of resistance and opposition as it can.
The fear of not knowing the HOW – in other words, how you would actually live your purpose and still have everything you want and need – is maybe the biggest obstacle that keeps people from taking any steps towards their purpose.
Of course, we live in a physical reality. Most of us need to earn money to support ourselves and our families. We need money for food, shelter, health care, transportation. Basically, to live. We can’t ignore this reality.
But the idea that you can’t live your purpose and be financially abundant at the same time is a powerful limiting belief that has been perpetuated in our culture and, often, passed down through families. (This was a strong belief for my grandfather, who worked hard not very joyfully all his life to save for a rainy day that never came.)
Is this an inherited belief for you – that you must work really hard to make money? That work can’t be fun, or spiritually rewarding? That work shouldn’t be easy, or joyful, or aligned with your Soul?
Examining your limiting beliefs in this area can help you get to the root of your fear of not knowing the “how.”
It also helps to practice surrender and trust.
Trust that the Universe needs you to discover and live your purpose. That you have a unique purpose in this lifetime, something no one else can do or be.
Trust that in living your purpose, you’ll be opening unexpected doorways into abundance, well-being, happiness, and joyful collaboration with others.
Also, trust that you don’t need to know 25 steps ahead of time.
In reclaiming your inner compass, and learning to follow your heart again, there’s no need for a detailed roadmap in advance. The work is to connect to your deepest truth every day, and to follow your inner guidance by asking: what can I do to move closer to my purpose today?
Just take it one step at a time, one day at a time.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF YOURSELF
If you want support with this process of discovering your purpose, I’ve compiled every tool and practice I developed through 8 years of client work into one course: Journey to the Center of Yourself.