Purpose of this series: I believe everyone has a purpose in life—something they are uniquely gifted and positioned to do—that can range from founding a revolutionary company that changes the world, to being an awesome dad who changes the world of his kids. There are countless variations of individual purpose (it’s obviously unique to each person) and millions of people trying to tell you how to find yours. Although I can’t tell you what your purpose is, I hope to share some clear, concise insight that will help you dig down to the roots of who you are, what you want in life, and what’s holding you back from pursuing your purpose. In this series, I will identify the false beliefs, fears, and distractions that you are allowing to derail your dreams, and offer a few practical first steps you can take to overcome them and get back on track. This content will by no means be exhaustive, but I hope it will give you a good start in thinking through your purpose and overcoming some common obstacles.
Here’s a quick summary of what to expect:
Let’s get started!
Part 1: Why you “don’t know” what you want…
I’ve often struggled with asking myself the question “what do you really want to do with your life?” When I was a kid I went from being an aspiring artist, marine biologist, to a preacher, to famous actor, to “just a millionaire.” Growing up I always had a wide variety of interests and I was a quick learner. I believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be and I all I had to do was decide to pursue it. But as I grew older, that concept seemed to become a sticking point for me. Like the kid standing in a candy store with a hundred choices before him, I found it difficult to make a choice on which path to pursue. I completed a full semester of college before I even chose a major. After graduation, I got a job in the exact field I studied, which I kept for about 18 months before changing careers and industries (twice). Even as I write this, my day job pays the bills but is not completely in line with my passion and purpose.
I have realized my indecisive behavior is rooted in fear and false beliefs that you likely share…
False belief #1: I can do anything I want
The truth is, there are a lot of things that I cannot do, but that’s OK. I was not created and uniquely gifted to do everything that a human could possibly do. I have a certain skill set, personality, likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses that are in line with some types of work, but not others. Coming to grips with this truth may be tough at first, but doing so will actually give you more freedom by knowing which paths are not a good fit for you. Accurate self-awareness is a worthy goal that we must always work on while pursuing our purpose.
False belief #2: I have to make a choice early in life and can never choose another path
This belief led to overwhelming anxiety in my high school and college years. I felt tremendous pressure in choosing which college to attend, what to study, what career path to take and ultimately who I wanted to be. Once I had a Bachelor’s degree I felt somewhat trapped in that particular path. The truth is, I loved my college years for the experience, relationships, the subjects I studied and how I grew as a person. However, the job prospects for my field were pretty bleak and didn’t pay very well without a master’s degree. Since I was married and started to have children shortly after college, I had to make some tough decisions just to pay the bills. The point is, just because you have a degree in one field or a decent-paying job, doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever if that’s not where you want to be. I knew a counselor in college who had a 5-year degree and was an engineer for almost a decade before he quit, got another degree in school counseling and became a counselor at my college. I guarantee he was a far better counselor than engineer and he was vastly more content in his work because it was in line with his personality and passions. Whether its a change in careers or discovering how you want to spend your retirement years, if you’re still breathing it’s not too late.
False belief #3: I will always fail
This belief is a very tricky one because it has elements of truth and we are really good at remembering our past failures when we think about pursuing a new goal. The truth is, if we chase after our dreams and pursue a life of purpose, we will fail. We will fail at meeting all of our goals, at doing everything right; we will fail at being perfect parents, employees, business owners. The hard reality of life is that if we try a lot, we will fail a lot. But we won’t always fail. The key here is to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm (I believe that’s borrowed from Winston Churchill?). Enthusiasm, focus, and perseverance are absolutely necessary to keep us going after we fail once, twice, or even a thousand times. All great success stories have moments of failure and heartache, but what makes those stories so good are the character and passion of the people straining toward something that seemed impossible—at first.
I have just shared three of many false beliefs that have often held me back from pursuing my purpose. There are others that I have and I’m sure you can think of more of your own. I encourage you to share some of them in the Comments below, on Facebook, or send me an email. Sharing these false beliefs with others helps take away their power to control you and reveals how false they really are. I look forward to hearing from you.
What are some false beliefs you have believed about yourself? How have they held you back from pursuing your purpose?