THRIVE

What to Do If You Want More Purpose, Passion, and Meaning

Posted by on December 14, 2019 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments

Image Credit: Tiny Buddha

 

By Heather Moulder | Tiny Buddha


“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~Joseph Campbell

Do you ever feel like there’s got to be more to life? More purpose, passion, meaning—whatever your word of choice is?

It’s happened to me twice. The first time was during the early years of my legal career, and the second time was just a few years ago (after battling an aggressive breast cancer).

Each time I craved more meaning, yet these two experiences couldn’t have been more different.

When it happened to me as a young lawyer, I didn’t know what to do.


I’d wanted to be a lawyer since I was ten years old, and there was purpose behind the choices I’d made up to that point. Decisions that had gotten me where I was, such as:

  1. Majoring in economics (with a business minor) in college because I wanted to be a business lawyer, and
  2. Choosing corporate finance law because my ability to quickly see patterns and solutions was beneficial to structuring deals.

In the early days of my career, I had a deep sense of fulfillment. But over a period of four years, that gradually changed.

I didn’t realize how bad it was until the morning I stepped off the office elevator and suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was having a panic attack.

I walked to my office, shut the door, and cried. That’s when I admitted to myself that I felt trapped in a purpose-less life that I’d worked hard to create.

And that brought questions such as: How could I have once felt passionate about this life? Had I been wrong? If not, what had changed?

After allowing my self-doubt to paralyze me from doing anything for a few months, I finally decided to do something about it.

I wrote down a laundry list of things that I didn’t like about my life, which included:

  • Regularly working eighty+ hours per week (for over a year)
  • Averaging only five hours of sleep per night
  • Feeling like I was easily replaceable and wasn’t making enough of an impact in the work I did
  • Not having spent meaningful time with friends in over a year
  • A wandering mind that was almost never present
  • Snapping at my husband (a lot!) for no real reason and being sour with peers who interrupted my work

My list of woes was embarrassing, and I didn’t like who I was becoming. But it provided me with a roadmap for how to fix my problems. Moreover, it helped me recognize what purpose really is.

Up until that point, I’d been looking externally for solutions and thought that I needed to find my true calling.

The idea that purpose comes from one thing is a myth. And so is the idea that you find your purpose. You don’t find it; you create purpose in life by:

  • using your strengths to make an impact (in an enjoyable way),
  • aligning your life around your core values, and
  • having a sense of belonging.

Let’s talk about what these mean and how I course corrected in each area.

1. Utilizing your strengths to make an impact (in a way that’s enjoyable)

Most people understand that purpose comes (at least partially) from making an impact. But there’s more to it than that.

If you want to make an impact that’s meaningful, then you need to utilize your skills to the best of your ability (and that requires that you enjoy what you’re doing). That’s how you get and stay motivated.

My problem was that I felt like my strengths weren’t being fully utilized in the work I was doing—and that I was stuck in the same role, stagnating.

 

 

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