Finding Purpose & the Value of Action

I can't possibly count the number of times (since I turned about 14) that I have sat down in conversation or self-reflection to answer the question, "What is my purpose?"

This is a question that has been at the forefront of my life and decisions since I can remember. For me, it's always been about the "deeper meaning" or reason as to why I do or choose anything.

I've had many discussions with others in their twenties, as well as those much older, who find themselves asking this question.  Through this, the one thing that has become most evident is that thinking about the answer for prolonged periods of time rarely creates more clarity.

There are processes we can engage in with coaches or friends to find clarity - such as creating statements and ideas of who we are and what we are here to do. This can improve our self-understanding, goal-setting, visions, and decisions. However, sometimes understanding doesn't take us out of the slump that the question "what's my purpose," often meets us in.

Whether we become bored in a current job, or we graduate university, or we are confronted in some way with knowing that it is time for change and choices, the pressure to make the next "right choice" can be paralyzing rather than empowering.

We want our lives to be meaningful to us and others, and sometimes what has been "good enough" in the past, no longer is. Thus, our next move or decision holds more pressure because we are seeking to bring more purpose into our life.

There is also an element of fear driving us as we are aware that something is missing and we want to make sure our next choice is "the right thing" - delivering us the meaning and purpose we seek.

I have certainly been guilty of thinking... and waiting... and doing the same things with the hopes of finding clarity and purpose.

But the important thing to realize is that paralysis by analysis (waiting to uncover "the right choice") is rarely successful. And when we find ourselves in this situation, the wrong decision is better than no decision.

In times of feeling "stuck" and purposeless, clarity comes as the result of action. We have to DO something new - make a big decision, find a new opportunity, choose something.

It's amazing how fast clarity arrives when we finally decide to act rather than continue to think or wait.

You are most likely not going to discover a life-long career path or a newfound purpose by waiting for a "sign" or by dwelling in an ocean of possibilities. The destination or clarity you seek is reached by a series of decisions.

The faster you can make decisions, and the faster you can act - the faster you will learn and thus arrive at the answers.

We can become deluded by the value of analyzing and seeking answers. But the reality is that pondering and waiting, or continuing to do the same thing hoping new insight will strike us, is often a cover-up for the fear of failure or the fear of being wrong.

The experience of being "stuck" or questioning our purpose is a common human experience. There is also nothing wrong with taking time to rest and reflect. But ultimately, it is DECISION and ACTION that brings us back into flow and to the answers we seek. It matters much less what we decide, than the very fact that we do decide!

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not making decisions." Catherine Cook, MyYearbook

"The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks." Mark Zuckerberg

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." Pablo Picasso