Living on purpose, why confusion is comfortable, and fixing confusions about life.. An essay was written in my backyard.
I was having a conversation with a friend this past weekend. She was sharing her desire to find herself, or discover her true purpose in life. I kid you not when I got home from that conversation and opened my inbox I had an email waiting for me from a reader that was essentially outlining the same thing.
Funny how the universe works that way.
Ok, back on track. Both of them felt like they were constantly going back and forth between thoughts, ideas, jobs, and relationships. Never quite able to fully embrace anything in particular. Always questioning if what they were doing was the right thing.
After exchanging a few emails back and forth with both of them I started to think about my life a bit and whether or not I am on the right path. I then started thinking about whether or not the majority of others have these same questions. Turns out… you do.
Table of Contents
CONFUSED ABOUT LIVING ON PURPOSE: WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON
The desire to know yourself, discover your purpose, or live up to your potential has more to do with the fear of not ever being able to figure it out than it actually does with the discovery itself. It’s pretty scary to think about going through life and never really figuring out who you are as a person. I use to often think “is what I am doing now what I was put on earth here to do?” That question in itself would give me anxiety out my yin-yang (that’s a nice way to say my ass).
But it’s the same fear, anxiety, and stress that makes us so uncomfortable that keeps us safe. Fear is partly what keeps us from jumping out of an airplane with no parachute. You might be thinking that common sense is what keeps you from taking such an action but I would say that the fear of ending up like a pancake is what actually does the trick.
So what’s this got to do with purpose, self-discovery, and getting more out of life?
Well, without fears, anxiety, and stress we wouldn’t be highly motivated to achieve great things. Often when I talk to friends about what motivated them to finally lose weight they point to a specific time where the fear of what might be to come kicked in.
It might have been not fitting into a pair of pants, a body fat test that went terribly wrong, or having a recent picture taken of them in which they were surprised at what they looked like.
For me personally, it was being in a job that I had no love for (if you’re interested you can read about that here). It was a paycheck to provide safety and security for me and that was it. Personally, I believe there is a fine line between the amount of safety and security we actually need. Too little and our heart feels like it’s going to explode, while too much and we are never motivated to challenge ourselves and pursue the things that matter most to us.
LIVING ON PURPOSE: NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO DO THIS
There is no wrong or right way to go about discovering the self. Whichever method to the madness that you embrace; each will have its limitations, restrictions, and weaknesses. It’s best to not concern yourself with what the best way to go about this may be but to simply get started and figure it out as you go.
More importantly, will be your ability to change direction and shift perspectives as needed. The world is like one giant college campus and at our disposal is an infinite amount of courses we can take that will help shape who we are or who we want to be. The person you are varies on so many levels. There’s the person you are with your family, at your job, out on the town, with your health, and so on.
It’s hard to figure out who you are if you are repeating the same routine day in and day out. That’s not to say something new needs to be done every single day but take advantage of all that is out there. Learn to dance, learn how to play the guitar, take an art class, learn how to make sushi, go wine tasting, book a trip around the world, swim with dolphins, write a poem, BBQ with friends, participate in a triathlon.
Experience as much as you can. That is the only way to true self-discovery and purpose. You may find your passions lay in many more things than you could ever have imagined.
WHATEVER YOU DO, AVOID GETTING STUCK
If you’re moving backward that’s fine, there is something to be learned from it. What can you do in the future to improve?
If you’re moving forward… well, that’s just great.
But if you’re stuck, you’re in trouble. There’s no learning, no personal growth, no experiences. Unfortunately, it is in our nature to want to get to this place… this “Stuckiness” if you will.
Because “stuckiness” is safe and secure. When we find comfortability we grab and hold on to it like there is no tomorrow. The problem is when we feel stuck and no growth is happening this is usually when you can be sure you are at your unhappiest.
If your body and mind have an appetite for learning and adventure then feed it. Otherwise, you’ll be left with an unsatisfied taste in your mouth.
You have many levels, different interests, different desires, different emotions. This is why it is so important to test yourself on so many different levels. Taking on challenges that test you physically, mentally, emotionally, and force you to deal with fears, stress, success, and anxiety all help you to discover who you are under different circumstances.
Pushing yourself on a run or in the gym, tackling a fear of heights on a skydive, or writing a short story and putting it out there to the world can are all examples of ways you might force yourself to deal with some of those fears.
It’s the suppression of these things – Or not letting them out even though they are clamoring for it that causes personal uncertainty and anxiety.
WHY DO WE GET CONFUSED AND STUCK?
Life changes whether we like it or not. It changes when it’s going well, it changes when it’s going terrible, and it changes when it’s mediocre. When life changes it’s always difficult, even when it’s good to change. We’ll always feel confused and this is ok.
When we feel like this it’s important to step back and reflect. Are we confused because deep down being confused is easier? Staying confused keeps us from having to take responsibility for our decisions. It’s scary to think about making a decision and being wrong, failing, and sometimes it’s scary if we turn out to be right.
The only way to stop being confused is to decide. Start small if you have to. Slowly expose yourself to fear.
STOP SEARCHING FOR YOUR PURPOSE AND START LIVING ON PURPOSE
Finding yourself, discovering your purpose, if these are questions you are asking yourself that’s a good sign. It means you have a deep love for life and are excited about the journey. All the apprehensions you are feeling are normal.
The most important thing to remember is that you are a constantly changing and evolving individual. Changes are happening every day physically, mentally, and spiritually. As you change so will your purpose. Embrace the change. “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished”
When I was eight my purpose was eating as much candy as possible and playing in the mud. In high school, my purpose was drinking beer and chasing girls. Now, it’s learning and sharing that knowledge with others. I could wake up tomorrow and find a new purpose… And that’s ok.
A few things to think about.
Want what you get instead of trying to get what you want. Avoid constantly focusing on what you want or feel like you don’t have. Take pleasure and gratitude for what is currently going on in your life. Say thanks often, let people in your life know how much you appreciate them. How do you get currently get to work? A car is probably better than a bike, a bike better than your feet, and your feet better than crutches… I think you get the idea.
Avoid the trap of validation. It’s natural to want to please others but when it comes to living life on your own terms trying to live up to the expectations of others can be a daunting and impossible task to live up to. A sure-fire way to make yourself pretty damn miserable is to constantly compare yourself to others. Remember that people often show us what they want us to see. You get snapshots of someone’s life – The good that is. Everyone has struggles, hardships, and battles of their own that they fight.
You’ll always want more, better, faster. It’s natural to be in a perfectly good place and still want more, to want to improve, and to want results faster. It’s actually a good sign, it means you’re a highly motivated individual to constantly want to be improving. Focus on progress and the behaviors that lead to progress. If building muscle or losing body fat are goals have you progressed a little more from this week than last? How are you measuring success? The scale, body measurements, before and after pictures?
If progress has stalled what could have been the cause? Take a look at your habits over that time period to assess whether or not you were behaving in a way that leads to the results that you are looking for.
Spend a little time focusing less on yourself. I know that sorta sounds ass-backward but it can often help. I’ve noticed often that when I am preoccupied with myself and getting my own goals met that my ego often gets in the way and blocks the person that I really am. Spend some time helping others with goals and ambitions. Use your skills and resources that others might not have to assist them in achieving their goals.
Serving someone else or something a bit bigger than yourself can open the flood gates to creative energy and personal awareness. Volunteer, help someone with a work project, go running with a friend that is trying to get into shape.
You might just be a jack of all trades. If you have many interests but feel the necessity to just pick one, say screw it and embrace them all. There is no real need to focus on one particular area. You may be drawn to many different areas. Dabble in them all, you’ll often find that some just naturally fall off while others stick around and become moments of sheer bliss. Each of us is unique, while some do well with one particular dream, goal, or passion – others have multiple interests so don’t feel obligated to ditch one in favor of another. Keep experimenting.
Personally, that’s where I’m at right now. I’m passionate about learning and challenging my current beliefs on all avenues. A lover of wisdom or wanna-be philosopher if you will 🙂
Check-in today. Where you at and are you doing things that challenge you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?