I read an article a few weeks ago about that ever nebulous idea of finding your life purpose. We’ve all read the ridiculous posts on Buzzfeed, the thought-provoking articles from The New Yorker, and everything in between. There never seems to be a shortage of literature on this topic, and when you consider the idea of supply and demand, this makes perfect sense. Every day in every country all over the world, people are trying to figure out their life purpose. Why are there here? What are they doing with their 168 hours each week, their 525,600 minutes every year?
In this particular article, the author made a very clear distinction between the vague idea of a “life purpose” that seems to vex so many people and doing things with your time that you consider important. He wrote to “fill your time with something meaningful,” and then left the idea at that. Do worthwhile actions, and you’ve somehow achieved your quota for finding meaning.
I can appreciate his sentiment. Do something valuable with your time, something that you personally enjoy, and at the end of the day, you’ll be able to rest peacefully. But why stop there? When you find that something full of meaning, why would you put a period after it, instead of a comma? When you’re on the cusp of finding that pearl of great value, only a fool would let it go.
Finding your life purpose is hard. That’s the understatement of the century. And for many of us, it is elucidated only through a constellation of different experiences that blend together to create this perfect storm. It takes time. Effort. And most importantly, reflection and prayer. The American culture does not look kindly upon either of those last two aspects, and so they tend to become the quickest to be discarded. Reflection gives way to action; prayer to nothingness.
Socrates warned, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Finding purpose – either your life purpose or the purpose of this particular chapter of your life – takes action. It’s a search – that’s why you have to find it! By experimenting, you can find that which you actually love. But it’s impossible to know what you love unless you actually do it. Without action, we love only the idea of a thing, which is a mere shadow. Action must be paired with thought. The two alone will cause only frustration, but together they create a power that is unstoppable. Don’t settle for any less. I know I’m not. It’s a difficult path, but as I told my kiddos last year, if it were easy, it’d be called kindergarten. And while returning to the land of perpetual nap time may sound appealing to some, I left that path a long time ago, and I’ve never looked back.
Embrace the challenge. Continue the search. Live a life that matters, and never settle for less.