Finding Your Unique Purpose

by Edmund Bourne PhD -

The inability to find meaning in life usually reflects a degree of self-alienation. Such a condition results in a tendency to pursue satisfactions and stimulation on the outside rather than from within.

Materialistic goals, concern with appearances, and addictions may all be used to fill an inner emptiness which is often felt as an unsettled feeling or chronic anxiety. External solutions may work, but only temporarily—they provide a quick fix rather than a true healing.

Global Shift: Finding your unique purpose
To reestablish meaning in life is to rediscover your soul. An important step in this direction is to find your soul’s own innate and natural passion—which is what inspires your unique purpose.

This is not something you have to create. You came into the world with it, and it likely was evident when you were a child.

Unfortunately, education, socialization, and the trauma of entering adulthood may have obscured the natural gifts and talents you brought into the world to express.

If you’ve wandered too far away from your innermost wellspring of creativity, you’ve probably ended up, like many people, feeling too busy and rather alienated. Discovering your unique purpose will help overcome this self-alienation as well as contribute to something greater than yourself.

Discovering your unique purpose (or purposes) can restore meaning to your life—and an increased capacity to look to yourself rather than the outside for the spark of life itself.

If you search inside yourself, your life purpose is something you need to do in order to feel whole, complete, and fulfilled in your life.

It’s uniquely your own—something that can’t be duplicated. Only you can do it.

Your unique life purpose comes from within and has little or nothing to do with what your parents, partner or friends might want you to do.

It’s something that expresses a particular talent, gift, skill, or desire that you hold most dear. In fulfilling it, you discover your own unique way to be creative.

Generally, your life purpose is something that reaches beyond the limited needs and concerns of your own ego. It is "other-directed," having an impact on something or someone beyond just yourself.

Your life purpose might involve raising a child, contributing to your community, or teaching something you’ve learned from your personal experience. When you’re fulfilling your life purpose, your life takes on a new dimension of meaning beyond self-interest.

From a larger standpoint, your life purpose is an important activity or service your soul came into this world to accomplish. The metaphysical idea of "life purpose" appears in various religious traditions.

In Christianity it’s referred to as a "calling," while in Eastern religions it is often spoken of as your "personal dharma."

The assumption is that your life purpose, especially the gifts and talents on which it’s based, is Divinely appointed. In some lofty sense, it was decided on and perhaps even planned out before you were born.

You came into the world with your unique purpose as a potential. It’s your choice and free will that determines whether you fulfill your particular purpose, as well as how you go about doing it. Yet the potential itself remains latent in your soul. As long as your life is focused solely on personal gratification of bodily and ego needs, you may continue to feel something is incomplete or missing.

To the extent that you discover and begin to express your unique purpose(s), you are likely to feel a deep sense of rightness and direction in your life. To be aligned with your life purpose gives your life a positive direction—not to may result in a sense of drifting, or keeping busy to avoid feeling empty.

There is no longer as great a need to seek pleasure in outer material things, since you begin to feel an increasing inner satisfaction that you are "on course"—doing what you came here to do.

To align with your unique life purpose is an important step in healing yourself and becoming all you can be. In doing so, you begin to be more in touch with the creative forces and intelligence of fields of consciousness beyond yourself.

It’s important to realize that your life purpose may not necessarily be grand in scope. Size of impact is less important than quality. Your purpose may be about raising a family, contributing to a social or political cause, or sheltering injured or sick animals. Or, it might involve artistic pursuits, such as painting, playing an instrument, or writing poetry.

Perhaps volunteering your services for a youth group or teaching a Sunday school class might fulfill your life purpose.

Often your life purpose does not become clear until you’ve worked through some of your personality issues.

Resolving unfinished business with your parents, taking care of your financial and security needs, overcoming social fears and learning to be assertive may all be part of the "groundwork" that needs to be done before you can fully express your life purpose.

It’s difficult for your creativity to fully blossom until you’ve freed up sufficient energy within yourself from personality and interpersonal conflicts.

In fact, confronting and dealing with personality issues is also an important part of what you came here to do, along with expressing your unique purpose.

In an important sense, a major part of your life purpose is to do the inner psychological work necessary to handle your personal needs and achieve a sense of identity and self-worth. (That’s not to say that you can’t begin to express your unique mission while still dealing with your personality issues.)
Finding your purpose

If you currently feel out of touch with your life purpose, how do you go about discovering what it is?

If you haven’t already, think about to what extent your current job is expressing what you would truly like to do with your life. Is there something you would rather be doing?

If so, what education or retraining would be required in order to transition to what you would like to do. If it doesn’t seem feasible right now—financially or otherwise—to make a fundamental career change, then reflect on what other interests spark your enthusiasm.

Is there a hobby, avocation, or volunteer opportunity you could do in your spare time that would add a dimension of meaning to your life? Something you’ve thought about for awhile but felt you never had the time to do.

Often discovering what truly fulfills your unique interest means that you have to jump in and try something out, without knowing ahead of time how it’s going to work out.

Ultimately, whatever it is that answers your personal call will contribute to someone or something larger than yourself, whether it is raising a family, entertaining people with your singing voice, creating a beautiful and eco-friendly garden, giving some of your time to soup kitchen for homeless people, or inventing a cost-effective solar panel.

If realizing your purpose involves making a career change, it might be helpful-- beyond simply reading about the new vocation-- to work with a career counselor.

Also you can ask people who are doing that type of work what it’s like. If it involves going back to school, you’ll want to talk to a guidance counselor at the school you’re considering. Perhaps reading books on the subject such as those of Carol Adrienne will be helpful.

To assist you in thinking about what kinds of activities or career might fulfill your life purpose, consider the following guidelines:

Listen to what your heart tells you about what you would most love to do or be.  

Be sure to separate your unique goals and objectives from those of your parents, spouse, friends, or others. Only you can know what your true mission is.

Your life purpose may or may not be your actual vocation. It could be a hobby, pastime, or avocation.

Notice negative self-talk that puts down the dreams or inner fantasies that your heart offers up.

For example:

  • "It’s impossible to do what I want and still make a living."
  • "It’s too late to go back and get the training"
  • "Nice idea but impractical."
  • "They won’t approve."
  • "But I don’t have the talent for it."
  • "With so much to do, I don’t have the time."
  • "It’s too much work—too difficult."
  • "No one’s going to be interested, anyway."

(Resistance statements like these are often clues to showing you what your deepest purpose or "personal dream" actually might be!)

Keep in mind the famous maxim:

"God never gives us a vision without also giving us the capacity to make it come true."

Ask your own inner wisdom or Higher Power to help you discover and clarify what your life purpose might be. In your deepest self, you already know what your mission or purpose is.

Look for synchronicities. When you are moving toward your life purpose, amazing coincidences will often happen to give you confirmation that you’re on the right course.

Realize that fulfilling your life purpose may involve taking risks and giving up certain aspects of your life as you know it right now. Are you up to taking such risks? If not, think about ways you could get support for doing so.

After you have a good idea about the nature of your life purpose, write a scenario on a separate sheet of paper about what your life would look like if you were to fully realize this purpose (or purposes).

You can design separate visualizations for each purpose or incorporate the realization of all of your life purposes into a single description.

Be sure to make your scenario sufficiently detailed to include where you’re living and working, who you’re with, what activities make up your day, and how atypical day would look.

Once you’ve completed a detailed description, record it on tape, preferably in your own voice. You may want to record it after a few minutes of preliminary instructions to relax.

Visualizing the fulfillment of your life purpose on a regular, consistent basis will go a long way toward helping you to actually realize your goal.

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