Oprah once wrote – everything gets better, more focussed, more meaningful, and more successful when you are pursuing your life’s purpose, so if you don’t know your life’s purpose then your prime mission should be to find it.
I agree with Oprah in sentiment but disagree on some specifics.
Defining your purpose in words can be difficult, most people don’t know what theirs is, and even those who do will often struggle to verbalise it if you catch them on the spot. Each time I think I have mine nailed down something shifts, and I go from being clear about it to being unsure again.
Unlike Oprah I no longer believe everyone has a singular life purpose (an idea akin to having a single soulmate) that we must find and pursue lest our lives will be wasted. Instead I believe we can settle on any primary purpose we want because ultimately it’s just a story we tell ourselves to help us organise our forward momentum in the face of life’s opposition.
Neither is it clear to me that we can just sit there in silence pondering life until our purpose crystallises in our minds eye – and boom – we are good to go. Instead I’ve come to believe that out of a limitless list of possible purposes – our purpose emerges when we consciously face our personal problems and try to solve them with integrity, the opposite of which is to bury our heads in the sand and avoid the challenge of sorting ourselves out, or task others with the burden of solving our problems for us.
Even if we never have that lightbulb moment where our purpose suddenly becomes clear to us, the benefit of consciously welcoming and facing ‘problems’ is that our journey, which we can’t avoid anyway, gets way more interesting. On the other hand if we choose to bury our heads and avoid challenges, or pass our problems over to someone else, we never get to create a meaningful shape to our lives nor get to experience the fulfilment of personal growth. In this sense you could define a very general overarching life purpose as being – ‘to take full responsibility for facing our personal problems’ – boring as that description may sound!
The tragedy is how so many people reach the end of their lives unfulfilled and oblivious to this wisdom which is lying around in plain sight. Had they known that they could have chosen any purpose for themselves and headed off in pursuit of it they might have created a much more meaningful life. The journey is where the fun is – the destination is just the thing that holds our focus to keep us on the journey.
The ‘trick’, so to speak, is not to expend too much energy trying to define our purpose, but to choose the right problem to solve – out of a long list of problems we could solve in our lives.
If you are dealing with infertility then you have a ready vehicle in which to pursue a life of purpose because you have a heavy problem that needs attention fast, the solving of which requires personal growth, introspection, and change. It is the conscious facing of these that will cause your purpose to emerge – and the beauty of it is that it also increases your chances of success.
I’d like to pass on some things I have learned that may help you:
Your goal may be to have a baby, but it cannot be your life’s purpose – if it is you will have accomplished your life’s purpose as soon as you give birth – what then?
Your life’s purpose cannot be “to be a parent” because that would be to place too heavy a burden on your children by requiring their existence before you could live your life’s purpose, thus if you never became a parent you could therefore never fulfil your life’s purpose – and that’s obviously not true. Instead, becoming a parent is something that is more likely to arise as a result of pursuing your real purpose. Defining your purpose is useful but it’s not necessary – better to focus your energy on choosing the right problem to solve.
Everything is connected!