“In learning to know other things, and other minds, we become more intimately acquainted with ourselves, and are to ourselves better worth knowing.”
(Philip Gilbert Hamilton)
Whether you are just starting to discover your purpose in life or you’ve lost a bit of confidence and you’re unsure of what to do next, there’s just one thing you need — go back to what you love. It’s the absolute foundation for where you are heading. Even if no one else understands it, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if you haven’t paid attention to it in a really long time. Go back to what you love. Even if it broke your heart earlier in life. Go back to what you love. Even if you feel like you messed it up or missed it earlier in life. Go back to what you love. And if you can’t get back to exactly what it was, then find a reasonable version of it.
In one of the first classes I taught on finding purpose, there was a young woman who had always wanted to be an Olympic speed skater. She had let it run through her fingers when she was younger, but discovered she was still in love with competitive skating. But now this dream seemed like pie-in-the-sky. She really wanted to train to see if she could qualify, but since she was only a couple of years away from being too old, she let it go. I encouraged her to do some research and, with the rest of the class, asked questions to discover what this passion was all about. We discovered she loved the rhythms of skating, she loved speed, she loved the physicality, she loved competition, she loved the comraderie. We brainstormed what could satisfy those needs in her life. She determined that as long as she could still do a bit of skating, she could be satisfied with helping others prepare and compete. Almost immediately she found a skating club and had begun training to see how far she herself could go. I ran into her a few years ago and she told me she had begun to do some individual coaching at the club. She was very happy.
Don’t limit yourself by thinking there’s only one way that your purpose in life can be achieved. That way of thinking discourages you and blocks its fulfillment.
I love the way The Message version of the Bible puts what God says to us:
“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work… For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
What is it that you really and truly love? Are you blocking that dream by assuming there’s only one way to fulfill it? What exactly about it stirs up your passions? What else might satisfy those passions? What we love may not end up being exactly what our purpose is, but it is always a good foundation we build to that purpose.