Why You Should Stop Looking for Your Purpose and What to Do Instead

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~Pablo Picasso

Twenty years is a long time when you know you’re meant to be doing something, but you don’t quite know what it is or how to go about doing it.

Two decades ago, when I was just twenty-years old, I discovered the seed of my purpose by volunteering at a Romanian hospital in a playroom for pediatric cancer patients. And, though I have made many an attempt over the years, I am only now beginning to truly live the purpose I’ve felt a fire for these past two decades.

The common twenty-first-century affliction of purpose anxiety is called “purpose anxiety”. 

Today, many people struggle to find their purpose. And then there’s the other side of that search; when you actually find what it is you’re here to do, how do you go about living it? How do you live up to a calling to something greater than you?

It has been difficult for me to find my purpose in life. In the end, it took one small change to terminate my two-decade to-and-fro, and to finally start living my purpose  Though it might seem such an insignificant detail, what kept me stuck for so long was the word purpose.

The purposeAlthough it is only seven letters long, the word has an enormous emotional impact.

The purposeThere are so many thoughts, ideas, musts and fantasies that you can conjure up before you ever even begin to think about what yours might be. From the beginning, there is a lot of pressure. And this pressure isn’t conducive to finding it.

Another thing about the word Objective is that it seems to live outside oneself—like something lost that you have to find. A common word is for ObjectiveIt is Phone. You get the same effect. It’s like something is out there somewhere, guiding you to it, and you have to go on a search to find it.

Finally, I was able to change the word. ObjectiveTo another.

It was the exact moment I changed my vocabulary that I remember. I was, maybe quite cliché, looking out onto the horizon while walking along the beach and at the same time wrestling with my purpose-related demons.

The day was a great experience. I saw deeper into my self-sabotage, self-doubt and fear of failure. It also helped me to understand my self-worth. Then I thought of something that I heard about looking at life through the lens of what one can give rather than what they can gain.

The dark cloud of doubt and fear had caused me to lose my purpose for being on this journey in the first instance. And I knew I had to get back to my purpose roots—to get back to just giving.

Simple word swap is from ObjectiveYou can find more information here Give as a gift.

That moment was the turning point for me. I stopped following my dream and began to focus on my gifts.  It was a very simple terminology change that made a huge difference in how I felt and how it affected my actions. This led me to reflect on the power of each word and see what changes in my perspective resulted from this switch.

These are the three things I learned when replacing the word ObjectiveWith gift.

1. This is the end of that treasure hunt.

When you change “What’s my purpose?” to “What’s my gift to share with others?”, the magnitude of the question diminishes. Your gifts are already within you. You don’t have to look elsewhere to find them.

So it no longer feels like a treasure hunt with no tools; instead, it becomes a realization that a purpose isn’t a mystical calling that visits us one day in a beam of light. This is a way of giving gifts to the rest of the world.

2. You realize that you don’t need to live just one true purpose.

The trap of looking for our purpose is that we assume it’s just one big treasure chest that we are on a voyage for.

After making this slight change to my vocabulary, it was clear that I knew what my gift was. I also realized I had many gifts I wanted others to know about, including writing. It’s easy to see the sharing of your gifts as a way we live our lives purposefully. So the anxiety of “but is this my true calling?” diminishes.

3. These feelings of fear and self-doubt about doing more than you can do are gone.

My purpose took on an entirely new life over the course of those 20 years. You could even say I had made my purpose my life! It was so ingrained in me that it seemed almost impossible to achieve it. I can’t tell you the number of times I froze at the first hurdle for fear of not living up to the 4D vision I had in my head. It felt like I was incapable of living my purpose.

The day that I turned purpose upside down and began to see it simply as sharing my gift with others, that was the moment I realized that I am so capable of this. All the self-sabotage and fear that came with it, as well as self-doubt, cold feet and self-sabotage all seemed to vanish.

Anyone reading this that identifies themselves as purpose-seekers is invited to become a gift-giver.

For the simple reason that we live our lives, and not search for it.

You have gifts to give the world.

About Angharad D. Davies

Angharad Davies is a social entrepreneur with an MA in Psychology, whose twenty-year quest to live her purpose has culminated in Reciprostone®, a unique well-being practice that uses the symbolism of a light-filled bowl and a collection of stones to harness gratitude, perspective, and meaning. You can try Reciprostone® for yourself in Angharad’s free workshop. You can also join A Place for Purpose, her online community.

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Tiny Buddha published the post Why You Should Give Up on Looking For Your Purpose, and what to do instead.

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