Why are you here?
This is neither an existential question, nor an accusation that you’re in the wrong place. Rather, I’m asking what unique imprint you are here to make on your corner of the world.
I think this is a tough question for most people to answer unless they have taken the time to really consider this. If you’ve already figured this out, then you’re likely to be able to answer quickly and with conviction. If you’ve done this exercise in a manner that reflects what you think others want you to do or believe, your response may lack passion or certainty. At my age I wouldn’t even be able to remember what I’m supposed to say if my mission were not my own.
I’ve had the honor of working through this process with a few people now and I’ve come to the conclusion that most people have an authentic purpose, but it takes some effort to elicit it. It’s in there somewhere. It’s unique to that person, since everyone’s mission sounds different. Each person, upon discovery, seemed to feel that when the mission was articulated ‘just right’, it rang true to them. Each mission also applied to their whole life, not just their personal or professional life. For the mission to be authentic, it must apply to that person in all their usual contexts and roles.
So far, each mission connected that person to the service of humanity in some manner. I don’t suppose that will necessarily be true for everyone, as some people’s mission might be to save the dolphin or a rare tree, but there may still be an element of service to humanity inherent in those goals as well.
Why does the authentic purpose matter? To have well-being and flourish, according to positive psychology, we need to live a virtuous life. But a virtuous life with no purpose, or the wrong purpose, will not help us feel very fulfilled. I believe our authentic purpose is essential to help guide us to life satisfaction and success. Our authentic purpose fills our cup, energizes us, and provides direction to our lives.
My authentic purpose is to use active love (being involved and doing the right thing for people) to help others become the best possible versions of themselves. One way I express my mission is by writing this blog each week. My mission has given me the fuel to have continued this blog for over 200 entries over a 14 month period, and to return to school full time on top of my day job. It’s driving my personal and professional life, and I feel like I’m finally living my life authentically and in service of what I’m here to do.
What is your authentic purpose and how do you direct that mission? If you haven’t identified it yet, shouldn’t you?