I have noticed recently that a lot of the bloggers I follow are writing about ‘how to find your purpose in 2013,’ how to tie up loose ends from 2012, and solutions for planning to have the most incredible, amazing, success-filled new year possible. And it’s lovely – all the ideas, inspiration boards, and year-ahead planners. But to be quite honest, it all makes me a little bit anxious.
The beginning of the year is generally an exciting time. Looking at our lives carte blanche gives us a chance to start again, regardless of the ‘mistakes’ we made last year, and this is appealing for a number of reasons. But there’s also a lot of pressure to reinvent ourselves, to discover our true purpose and move in a different direction, and to finally lose all of that junk in our proverbial trunks.
Talk about pressure! I can feel my heart rate creeping up already.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself getting caught up in all of the new-year-hype. I downloaded a 24-page booklet designed to help me ‘find my purpose’ in 2013, and proceeded to let it sit on my desk without so much as a flip-through. I just couldn’t do it – and that’s when it hit me. Maybe my solution for having a better year than last year can’t be found in a workbook. Perhaps it lies in self acceptance as opposed to self scrutiny. Maybe I can’t write you a concise 100 word statement about exactly where my life is going, but I can tell you a lot about where I am in my journey right now. And maybe, just maybe, that’s enough.
So instead of filling out that booklet, I’ve been working on being softer to myself. Kinder, gentler, slower. Many changes will be happening in my life in 2013, and my only resolution for this year is to be patient and kind with myself as I figure it all out.
Truthfully, I’m not so sure that I’ll ever find my purpose in something external – something outside myself like my job or reaching my goals. Maybe I’m just being a diehard optimist, but I think my purpose is much bigger than that.
I’m reminded of the research that’s been done on happiness. When we set goals like I’ll be happy when I get that next promotion or I’ll be happy when I have a little more money, we can only achieve true happiness for a single instant before we set another benchmark for what happiness will look like next. We then spend most of our lives struggling to reach the peak, only to find there’s another mountain on the horizon. The only way achieve true happiness is to bask in the glory that happiness is within us right now. Perhaps it’s the same with purpose.
What if your purpose has nothing to do with what you do?
I’m starting to realize that my purpose is discovering and nurturing who I truly am. Knowing myself, loving myself unconditionally, and offering endless compassion and support to myself as I stumble along. That’s it. Everything else – my job, my relationships, my hobbies – are my passions. They are absolutely essential, but they’re not my purpose.
Because when you think about it, there will be days when you love what you do and days when you hate it. There will be people who appreciate your work, and there will be others who criticize it. Why should you let your purpose be shaped and judged by other people and circumstances beyond you? Your purpose is way too important for that.
And lastly – here’s the clincher – your purpose won’t allow you to plan your life anyways. If you accept that your purpose is anchored within, you’ll trust the journey and allow life to unfold in the crazy and mysterious ways it always does. And rather than fight it, with the kind and gentle loving attitude you extend to yourself you’ll be better equipped to embrace change and bring about the most incredible things you could have never planned for.
So you have my permission – exhale in 2013. Love yourself, be kind to your body, and have compassion for the bumps and bruises you’ll inevitably get along the way. Anchor your purpose within. And watch yourself soar.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke:
“I beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…”
In health and with soft exhalation,