According to Richard Barrett, we go through 7 stages of psychological development in our life. In stage 4, “individuating” we let go of the the conditioning we have received from our parents and our culture(s). This means we can start to truly become who we are. Our motivations are freedom and autonomy. We seek complete independence.
In stage 5, “self-actualizing”, we become who we truly are by expressing our gifts and talents. Our motivations are now meaning and purpose and we value authenticity and integrity.
When we go through the stages differs for every person, it is dependent on many factors, including culture, education, social class etc.
As I read about this, I am curious to explore and indeed, find more meaning in my life. Lately, I have been thinking much more about purpose and what it means to me. After doing much research, I realize that the concept of “purpose” is very different from person to person but there is a common thread.
Purpose is bigger than just the self: it could be caring for one’s family, contributing to one’s community or making the world a better place, or maybe it’s about leaving a legacy through art.
Armed with this clue, I started to reflect more deeply. What, then, is MY purpose?
One thing is for sure: it’s an exploration. It is not something I expect to find through a treasure hunt or at the end of the mythical quest. It is a constant evolution which starts with self-awareness and develops through curiosity, inquiry and openness.
In my research, I have found that the following elements always seem to be a part of purpose:
- Our strengths
- Our values
- Our passions / things we love
- The impact we want to make on the world
- Meaningful social connectedness
I have started gathering clues as to what my purpose maybe and I would love to share some with you:
- I am “worldly” I have traveled, explored, worked and lead others in and from a wide variety of other cultures. This makes me a chameleon! I can fit into any environment and adapt, make friends and pretend I am a part of it.
- I am not afraid of taking risks and I thrive on it! It open many doors.
- I am a great facilitator – I love it! There is a reason I was a teacher for so many years.
- I have a strong sense of my values, and I stay true to them (95% of the time!)
- I can create trust and safety for others because I care deeply.
- Inner peace
- Exploring and growing
- Performing (This is something I need to dig into and go back to. I have told stories at the Moth, and LOVED it. Then, I stopped. Mmmm… TBC!)
- Writing (even though I don’t do enough of it, I really LOVE it)
Impact I want to make on the world:
This one was really hard for me. All my life, I have thought that I wanted to do something big. The thing is, I never really knew what that meant, and I still don’t. Right now, I think that through my work, I want to support those who have a huge vision so they can have an even bigger impact on the world. Maybe that’s the way I can impact the world in many different ways and feel complete. Still exploring!
Meaningful social connectedness:
Building strong and meaningful relationships in my life has always been key to me. I much prefer small gatherings in which I can interact with others on a deeper level than big parties or events in which it’s hard to connect. All the work I have done in my life has been based on relationships – teaching, being a leader, coaching, leading workshops… I believe that building strong relationships as well as a sense of belonging to various communities (family, Dreamers and Doers, friends group etc.) helps me to continue to impact others.
Purpose is an exploration. It is not something I expect to find through a treasure hunt or at the end of the mythical quest. It is a constant evolution which starts with self-awareness and develops through curiosity, inquiry and openness.
Why is this meaningful to me right now?
A friend of mine, as I was interviewing her for my upcoming video series for high achievers, asked me “What is your bigger vision with this? Why are you doing this?”. The truth? I was speechless! I started to think deeply and meditate on this question. I came to the conclusion that you just read a few seconds ago in the paragraph about the impact I want to have in the world.
Those I work with are incredible human beings who are working towards a better version of themselves to serve the world in as positive a way as possible. What if the bigger purpose of my work was to allow them to have an even bigger impact? I suddenly thought about the way I have impacted each of my clients and the way that has impacted their work, their relationships both to themselves and others, and I realized that WOW – I AM doing something big! The ripples of my own work are impacting the world in ways I don’t even know!
I also realized that this is in sync with every single one of my own values. I can stay simple and do what I love, cultivate my own inner peace to offer it to my clients and stay objective when I coach them, I also have a positive impact which includes growth and challenge both for myself and others. It feels good.
Do I have it all figured out?
OH NO! I, like most of us in stage 5, I am still exploring, but I am not searching. I don’t need to FIND my purpose. I want to continue to gather clues, reflect, adapt and see where life takes me. I am enjoying the process, and trust, as one of my wonderful clients has told me, that “The answers are in the questions”. The more inquisitive I am, and willing to play, try, try again, reflect, the more I will grow. Let’s put it this way: there is no end in sight, and I am not looking for one!
I hope you will join me on this deep introspective exploration and that it will help you stay calm and focused during the crazy holiday season! Let’s be present for the rest of 2018 to Step into 2019 with Purpose!
Click here to access all the resources I am creating to help you gather clues! You will get thinking tools, guided audio explorations, readings…
Click here to learn more about Step into 2019 with Purpose, a personal development workshop.