Although I knew decades ago that my passion and purpose was storytelling, you’d never know it by how I spent my time.
People who know what I do in life might think I lack focus, and that my various activities like writing fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays—as well as designing and facilitating spiritual development workshops—are disconnected and unrelated to each other. However, if you look closely you’ll find that everything I do is linked by an underlying theme: storytelling to inspire, educate, and lift the spirit. It should be easy to understand how my writings do that but so do my workshops. My various trainings seek to unravel the dominant, colonial narrative and replace it with new and old stories about wellness, inter-connection, and inter-dependence.
I’m able to sustain this range of activity because I understood a few decades ago that storytelling is my life’s purpose, and there are many ways to do it. But before that, all I knew was that I wasn’t fulfilled.
Do you feel like you spend your days doing things that aren’t important to you? Do you feel bored or dissatisfied with your life? Are you unsure of what you are meant to do? These are all signs that you may not be aligned with your life’s purpose.
Your “purpose” is the reason you are here in the world; the meaning of your life; the special and unique way in which you can joyfully contribute to lifting the collective spirit, creating and making the world a better place.
Maybe you believe the Creator assigned you a life purpose. Or perhaps your spirit chose it before you were born. Or it’s your prerogative to choose your own purpose. Can your purpose change? Can you have more than one? Does the same purpose follow you lifetime after lifetime? I’d never presume to challenge whatever you believe about your life’s purpose. There is no doubt, however, that knowing and aligning with your purpose is important. And not just for you.
The idea of a life purpose from this perspective is timeless and eternal. No matter where you are or when, your purpose is relevant. Examples? Teaching. Caring for animals. Nurturing children. Inspiring through art. Building community. Helping people heal. Sharing useful information. Helping folks connect. Finding out how stuff works. These are purposes that anyone on the planet at any time (past, present, or future) can pursue.
There are consequences for not knowing or working toward your purpose. You feel as though life has no meaning; it’s pointless. Whether you earn lots of money, enjoy celebrity or are appreciated by family and colleagues, without a purpose you feel empty. You know there is something else you would be happier doing, if only you could align with it.
What do I mean by “alignment”? Although I knew decades ago that my passion and purpose was storytelling, you’d never know it by how I spent my time. I raised funds for community groups, ran an arts service organization, managed non-profit housing and did lots of stuff that, though useful, left me feeling incomplete.
In the most practical sense, alignment is about how you spend your time. What do you think, talk about, and do in your waking hours? Are your thoughts, words, and actions serving your purpose? Are they helping you become someone who can serve your purpose? Or are they at least helping you identify your purpose?
There are consequences of not being in “alignment” with your purpose. You spend your time doing things that please others but don’t help you move forward and accomplish your goals. You do what you’re supposed to do rather than what you want. You work to survive but don’t enjoy it. Or you spend time harming yourself and sabotaging your life. You feel constantly frustrated by failures, barriers, and problems. Nothing really goes right or helps you get where you want to go. You feel confused about where you fit. You dream small and live in fear that someone will figure out you don’t really care about what you do. Worst of all, you can feel undeserving of a happy, meaningful life.
You know that you’re aligned with your purpose when you feel light and joyful about what you do in the world. Problems and setbacks happen but everything you experience is a chance to learn and grow. You never lose your determination to succeed. You know you’re growing and developing. Opportunities to move forward present themselves all the time. You feel that even if you haven’t arrived at your destination, you’re enjoying the journey. You can’t imagine yourself doing anything else and being happy. You feel you are making a difference in the world. You are overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone and everything in your life.
You may notice that a huge part of aligning with your purpose is about mindset. Sometimes a simple shift in thinking allows you to see new possibilities, motivates you to step through a door you never noticed before, and helps you realize you deserve to be happy and fulfilled. In fact, a happy and fulfilled you makes the world better for us all.
The key ideas I want to leave you with concerning aligning with your purpose are: 1) You deserve to feel fulfilled and happy, 2) your happiness and fulfillment contribute to a better world, 3) realistic planning will help you achieve your goals, 4) balancing an optimistic vision with taking action are equally important in accomplishing your goals and 5) whatever happens, don’t forget to enjoy the ride. Best wishes on your journey.