Finding Your Purpose

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life. How do I find my purpose?” This cry is common in a counselor’s office.

If you’ve ever uttered the words, or similar ones, rest assured that you’re not alone. It’s as if we’re expected to live life like a mission to accomplish or a task to complete. You are not James Bond whose sole purpose in life is to save the world, so relax. However, we can’t really help feeling like we need to know our mission or purpose, mind you. 

We grow up in school settings where the learning process is writing assignments, passing tests, and the validation we receive is through the pass/fail at the end of the year. We learn that we are successful when we complete our year, task, or mission.

Therefore, each year becomes a mission in and of itself. Our purpose is to pass that grade and then move to the next.

Meeting expectations and obtaining the affirmation from those we look up to is what we learn to live for. When it’s not our teacher, it’s our boss, our parents, our spouse, or our friends. 

The truth is, this is not exactly the best system to learn, especially when you’re preparing yourself for a highly competitive world with little to no recognition or affirmation. Our purpose should not be based on obtaining affirmation or accolades from those around us to validate our existence. We are more than a sum of our works. It’s a mindset that turns us into human doings rather than human beings. 

As a counselor, how do I answer this question then? Well. I don’t. I ask more questions. I believe we are meant to discover our purpose through experience, adversity, and a lot of processing alone, with the Lord, and with community.

I also believe that we may not have a specific and step by step purpose that we need to find.

What if our purpose to live out what you have been given through the opportunities presented in front of you? What if you considered your purpose on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly timeline rather than over the course of a lifetime? Could this change your perspective completely, utterly, and beautifully?

What if you asked: What is my purpose for this day? 

Purpose might look like getting out of bed and showing up. 
Maybe it requires feeding, clothing, and caring for your kids. 
Perhaps it will have you perform 3 surgeries that save 4 lives. 
Let’s go further yet. What about your purpose in this moment? 

What if taking on the need for the moment, whether you view it big or small, is the fulfillment of your purpose as a human being moment by moment.

There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and 604,800 seconds in a week. That’s a lot of opportunities for moments and momentous opportunities.

Know this. Your purpose may be completely dependent upon where you are in your life right now. We never know the impact our momentary purpose has in the lives of those around us, even if we’re in a season of rest. We’ve all seen those commercials about someone smiling at someone who smiles at someone else because they felt warmed by the affection of another, and that smile changes someone’s mood, which then changes the course of a life… Next thing you know someone’s medical bills are paid. 

Focus on today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Read Matthew 6:25-34. It ends with “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (v.34, NIV). 

You need today to get to tomorrow, next week, and next month. Since we can’t even guarantee that we will be here next year, why not take life a little at a time and plan accordingly. Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Seasons will change. Jobs come and go. Roles can be reversed. Our hearts are challenged. Through it though, God is faithful, constant, and steadfast.

Ask God what your purpose for today can be. It may surprise you in what you find out, discover, or pursue.  You may find that the daily pursuit takes you places you never anticipated, dreamed of, or hoped for.

Your purpose will be found out in the process of simply living. Live out love.

Let your purpose be found in what you find yourself in. Life itself can be your guide. Perhaps you’ll discover your passions through being who you were created to be: present in this moment. 

- Sharlene O'Reilly