By Wendy Rush.
It’s so easy to live your life totally in line with other people’s expectations to the point where you lose touch with who you really are. If you’re doing the job you’re doing because it makes your parents proud; if you’re running from here to there to make sure your children get to sport, music, and sleep overs; if you’re careful about your weight, wardrobe and general appearance because you want the world to see you in a particular way; or if the only friends, interests and activities you have are someone else’s friends, interests and activities then you’ve probably lost sight of yourself.
Is there something in your life that you do just for you and no-one else? Have you found anything that truly excites you and that, if you had your way, you would do every day? Or do you think that life is generally a chore and the only break you get is either sleeping or vegetating in front of the television?
If your answer is sleeping or vegetating, then you need to get to work on yourself immediately! It may surprise you to know that all of us have the same needs:
- A need to find purpose in what we do that helps to define who we are
- A need to pursue something we really enjoy doing
- A need to be appreciated for what we uniquely bring to the world.
When you find and begin to pursue your passion it will reveal your purpose. Purpose is important because it gives us a reason to live, to get up every morning. It motivates us and energises us. It brings satisfaction, we accomplish things we didn’t know we were capable of. It creates opportunities for new and more fulfilling relationships. It is good for our mental health and, as a result, our physical wellbeing.
The University of Minnesota’s website expresses it this way:
Why do you get up in the morning?
The secret to a fully alive life is to ask yourself this question regularly and use the answers to find your evolving life purpose—your own unique ways to contribute to the world.
We all have a need to find purpose in life. Some people find a way to express their purposes in their jobs, while others seek opportunities outside their daily work.
Just as you eat healthy foods and exercise to take care of your body, seeking a meaningful life of purpose nourishes the spirit—and, as contemporary research shows, improves your physical and emotional health as well.
When he was nine years old my son Ryan asked me “Mum, is it true that if you find something you really love doing you’ll never have to work a day in your life?”
Almost twenty years later I still don’t know where that came from, but it’s absolutely true. Work is not hard if you are passionate about whatever it is you are working at. So if your whole life seems like hard work, you need to find some space for something that is not so hard. (And I don’t mean sleeping or vegetating!)
How do you do this? To start with you need to find something that excites you. Something you enjoy doing that is absolutely for you and you alone. It may be something artistic or creative, a hobby, a sport or literary pursuit. It could be some kind of involvement in your community or church. Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn – a language, a craft, a musical instrument.
If you don’t know where to start, try thinking about these three stages of your life and see whether something springs to mind or to heart!
- By the time a child is seven or eight years old you can pick up strong clues as to what their gifts and talents are by observing what they like to do. If you can remember that far back what did you like to do?
- Imagine you are sixteen years old again and there are no obstacles to you becoming whatever you want to be. What is your dream? Australian guitarist, singer and song writer Joe Camilleri talks about his continued success as a musician and how he keeps himself on track. He says “You’ve got to go back every now and then to see if you’ve dropped anything. Then go ‘I’ll have that’”. He says “I keep coming back to what I was doing when I was sixteen.”
- Fast forward to your hundredth birthday. Your batteries are running low and you’re looking back and contemplating your life. What is it that you are really glad you did? Or what is it that you regret not doing?
Now, most importantly, what you need to remember is that you do not have to be good at this thing! I have lived all my life trying to do everything perfectly and I ended up either not doing things, giving up on things before they were finished or killing myself trying to second guess everybody so they would all be satisfied (and I would end up in a heap). Being good at something is absolutely not required for this exercise.
This thing you do should have nothing to do with wealth, fame or power. These are things that relate to the world’s expectations and everyone else’s assessment of who you are and how worthwhile you are. You are already 100% worthwhile, you may just need some guidance to set you on a path of purpose which will help you live life well.
A journey starts with a single step. Find something you’d like to do. Learn about it, visualise it, take action and, even in a small way, move toward it. Buy a book, enroll in a class, do some online research, set fifteen minutes a day aside to focus on it, join a club or find a friend who has a similar interest.
Richard Bach, author of the best-selling book Jonathan Livingstone Seagull said “We look at some people as if they were special, gifted, divine. Nobody is special and gifted and divine. No more than you are, no more than I am. The only difference, the very only one, is that they have begun to understand what they really are and have begun to practice it.”
Our Creator knows who we really are and what our purpose is, so if you ask God a few questions about what direction you should be heading in he will show you. The Apostle Paul said: “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.”
Are you already pursuing your passion? Your responsibility is to help others find theirs – to dig over the embers that have not quite gone cold and help blow some winds of change to ignite them into full flame. Your partner, your parents, your children, your friends, your work colleagues. Imagine what this world would be like if we all ignited our passion and enthusiastically and unswervingly lived out our purpose?
Wendy Rush is managing editor of Rise magazine. She has qualifications in communications and media and is general manager of a national professional association for educators. Her passion is encouraging others to find their passion and purpose.