What are we here on Earth to do? What is our purpose? We each have a unique purpose that we each can sense inside us, even if we have not yet identified it. That purpose is a little more vague than our personal mission because the path may lead us in so many different directions, many of which we cannot even imagine. I believe this purpose is better left open-ended, and we should thus be also open to where it takes us.
I wrote about the uniqueness of our personal mission and our ensuing authentic purpose in recent blogs (Complexity of Life, part I and part II). The difference between the two, at least as I see it, is that our personal mission is our global purpose in life. This global purpose applies to both our personal and professional lives. The theme of our mission, once we identify it, rings true to us once we identify it. We see it as our personal truth that is highly specific and which we have known at some level much of our lives. When and how we develop this mission is beyond my understanding at this point in time.
In contrast, our authentic purpose is what we do with that mission. My mission is to use active love (being actively involved) to help others be the best possible versions of themselves. I could do that from so many different vantage points: stylist, coach, teacher, education designer or writer, counselor, nurse, etc. So the way I direct my mission is also authentically mine and is reflected in my authentic purpose.
I say the purpose must be authentic, because if we’re approaching our mission from the needs, wants and desires of another, we’re simply trying to be someone we’re not (SWN) or inauthentic. Being SWN is exhausting and we are likely to set ourselves up for failure and dissatisfaction as we’re living our lives by someone else’s standards, values and strengths.
In contrast, living authentically tends to be energizing. Add to that mix the pursuit of our passions, and then you have someone who is fired up and energized by their work. I believe our authentic purpose is what Joseph Campbell calls our hero’s journey. We set off to pursue our calling, fight monsters and demons along the way, but return victorious with the knowledge that was lost by our generation.
Since this area of authenticity and mission are on the edges of what is known in psychology, I’m extrapolating somewhat based on the known literature and experience from my personal and shared journeys. My own understand is still emerging, but I believe that many of us could benefit from identifying our mission and authentic purpose. Not only am I enjoying my work and personal life more, but I am much more successful at what I’m doing now than what I was doing previously. In addition, it has enhanced my spiritual journey in ways that I’m unable to describe.
What is your authentic purpose? How did you find it? What impact does it have on your life? If you haven’t identified it, do you wish to? Why or why not?