How to Recognize Your Life Purpose
By Deborah Gavrin Frangquist
Deborah Frangquist is a coach and consultant in San Francisco who helps people thrive in the emerging sustainable economy. See her listing under Coaching & Lifework.
Knowing your Life Purpose, your Calling, has a significant effect on how successful you are, how happy you are, and how much impact you have in the world. But with all the important things waiting to be done in the world, it can be confusing to figure out what is truly yours to do. Here are a few tips to help:
Your gut sense and an open heart are better tools for recognizing your life purpose than your intellect. Life purpose is about all of you, the whole person that you are. Yet most of us have been trained to ignore most of ourselves in favor of a narrow focus on "book learning," analysis, and linear thinking. Your life purpose will certainly engage your intellect, but first use your creative side, your intuition, and the way your body relaxes when you are being authentic to notice what brings you most alive. Then do more of whatever that is and pay attention to what is most important to you about the experience.
Taking action verifies that you've identified your purpose. Life purpose is about both being and doing; your being motivates your doing. Your life purpose provides you with energy to take action, with energy to try things out and then try again until you learn what works, with energy to seek out kindred spirits, mentors, audiences, clients, students, whoever needs to be there for you to live your calling. This is energy which allows you to persevere in the face of discouragement and to be creative rather than despairing when things go wrong. This is energy which you come to recognize as life-giving and inspiring.
Expect fear, doubt, fatigue, flow, and delight. A certain amount of fear and doubt are only to be expected when you adventure on your true path. Other people may not understand what you are up to. You will sometimes be uncertain as you learn, experiment, make mistakes, and discover new resources. By definition, your purpose is yours alone, no matter how many kindred spirits you find along the way, and that can feel lonely at times. But there will also be times of flow, of feeling that time has slowed and space has expanded so that you can do what you want to do and do it well. One sign that you are on the right path is that, at the end of the day or week or month, no matter how hard you have worked and how tired you are, your felt sense is, "Wow, I got far more out of that than I put in!"
Your life purpose will be obvious, but it probably won't be easy. It will be obvious in the sense that the more you explore it, the more clearly you will see that your life purpose employs all of your strengths, creates synergy by combining apparently unrelated aspects of your experience, and offers opportunities to meet people you enjoy. At the same time, your true calling is likely to challenge and stretch you and to ask you to make the hard decisions of giving up what is merely "okay" for what is powerfully of value. If you find yourself thinking, "This is what I was born for, but I'm not sure I can really do it," you're on the track of your purpose.
Life Purpose is the key to leading a life full of meaningful work, deep relationship, and powerful satisfaction, and it will guide you through the changes of modern life.
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