For Those Who Search For Purpose

I’ve received a few emails and comments from some of you asking, “But what if I don’t know what my purpose is?”

I’ve been wanting to answer this for awhile, but I’ve delayed because it’s meaty, complex. Frankly, it’s hard to answer.

I’ve read a lot of books about finding one’s purpose. If you’re searching, you should too. I’ve stewed  and chewed on this for a long time.

I don’t have the right answer, just the way I see it. It’s all I can offer. Here goes.

To begin fulfilling my purpose I first had to believe I was given certain gifts so that I could love and serve others with them. Loving and serving others with our gifts, in my mind, is living our life’s purpose.

What are your gifts? What feels natural to you?

Mine isn’t math, patience or wearing high heels, in case you were wondering.

Write them down. Surprise yourself. Don’t let fear or a low self-esteem take your pen. Be honest about your gifts. It’s important.

Don’t assume a natural gift is the same as being a master. Although I may be naturally good at a few things, I’ve mastered nothing. Mastering requires sharpening your gifts. Practice. Sweat. Bruises. Lots of them. Mastering takes a lifetime. The process can fulfill you, possess you or oppress you. Or you can ignore your gifts completely. All of those choices are yours to make.

One of my gifts is singing like Adele. If she has bronchitis. With throat nodules. I can write, but I’m also pretty good at drawing and painting. I can make people laugh. I’m compassionate, good at listening and helping people feel better. I use those gifts interchangeably in life and if there’s need. Out of all of those natural talents, however, I’ve decided to master humor writing. Someday I may change my mind or redirect my focus. It’s ok.

It’s ok because our purpose is a lifestyle, not a lightening bolt. It isn’t one thing, it’s the way we live our life. It guides the choices we make, the things we think and the dreams we chase. It’s becoming the fullest expression of who we are meant to be.

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But gifts are just a piece of a bigger puzzle. If our gifts are the tools we use, then passion is the fuel. It’s what drives us to our heart’s desire.

Our brain tries to enroll us in law school when our heart wants to start a non-profit. It’s our brain that thinks it’s ok to spend years doing what you hate for a paycheck it loves. Follow the heart. It knows what you’re supposed to love.

So then the question is, what do you love? It will leave crumbs. We’re drawn to what we love. We think about what we love. We spend time and money on what we love. That’s often defined as our passion.

We can have many passions. Our passions can change.

I worked closely with college students for several years. I received my Master’s degree and wrote a thesis on the sexual behaviors of young women and self-esteem. I was passionate about that then – I was able to help young women with my research.

Now I’m passionate about humor writing. Life is weird. Embrace it. Never judge it. Even mistakes can be disguised blessings.

When our passion needs our gifts to thrive, stars seem to align in miraculous ways.

But, let’s be clear: our purpose isn’t selfish. It’s never at someone’s expense, it’s at their service.

It won’t leave a loving spouse for a micro-studio in Manhattan. It doesn’t abandon children with an aunt. It pays bills and honors commitments.

It’s patient. Don’t panic.

It’s also waiting for you to get your crap together. Don’t stall.

But what if you don’t know what your gifts are or you don’t know what you love?

You do.

Be quiet. Listen.

Are you afraid? Fear lies and it’s loud about it too.

I prayed. A lot. Don’t chase the answers in a frenzy, let it come to you gently.

Never fear your gifts are not enough or what you love is a silly pursuit.

They are both perfectly designed for you, at this moment.

The path is not always obvious. That’s the torturous part of the learning. Lean into the unknowing and trust yourself to figure it out.

You will. The world needs you to become who you were meant to be.

So in this way, you must.

This is how I see it. I hope it helps.

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17 Comments on “For Those Who Search For Purpose

  1. Wow…. That was AWESOME! Thank you for that beautiful, perfect, & timely message!!! I’m 41 and I’ve been searching for my purpose for years. Truthfully, I’m still searching. I’m literally starting my life over – divorced last summer, no kids, and not even a pet! LOL! I am abundantly blessed, in that I have AMAZING parents and friends, own my own small business, and I’m debt free. Yet everyday, I seek my purpose. I pray constantly about why I’m here, what else should or could I be doing, and then my FAVORITE Facebook writer/poster throws me 2 huge clues! 😉 Don’t let your gifts die with you, because the world needs them, and then this article. THANK YOU ANNA!!! Thanks for using YOUR gifts to help people like me discover or even re-discover their gifts! I really appreciate you for writing this! Hopefully soon, I’ll be posting about my own gifts…. And maybe even share them with the rest of the world! 😉 Have a wonderful day and don’t stop writing! I especially love the humor…. Nothing like some ‘serious’ laughter to keep life FUN! 😉

    • I’m so excited that you’re finding inspiration. My guess is that you’re going to start finding it everywhere you turn because it sounds like you’re ready. I’m jazzed!!

  2. This is so beautifully touching and so powerful, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you writing this and for inspiring me today, you have no idea how very much I needed this, thank you.

  3. Hey Anna! Wow I’m so glad I stumbled onto your brand new blog! I was visiting the Hahas website last week. I was in need of some light moments and in need of some laughs. I was just feeling bleurgh because I have been searching for the elusive…..PURPOSE! It is just amazing that you chose to open your blog with this topic! I love how you articulated your feelings and thought process and I’m armed with some basics on my own search now! I will be coming back for more. I have just “liked” you on facebook as well. God bless XX

  4. Love this, Anna. You’ve truly encapsulated what it is to live a life of purpose – it’s hairy, scary, a little crazy, and oh, so fulfilling. And most importantly, it’s a journey. Baby steps and daily choices to act on our strengths are the foundation of a meaningful life. Service to others and giving of ourselves are the cornerstones. Always enjoy you’re writing – it’s such an encouragement to read your perspective. You inspire as you fearlessly share and live out your own purposeful life. Thank you!!

  5. Great now I am sitting at my desk crying. Thank God the Dr isn’t in on Thursdays so the patients aren’t wondering why the lady at the big desk is crying. I am almost 46 and I have NO idea what I want to be when I grow up and I HATE it. I wish I could find my purpose.

    • As much as I don’t want you to be sad – I’m actually feeling really stoked for you. Your emotion tells me you’re open and finally ready to get serious. Read books on this. LOTS. I love Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions. Google it and let me know what you think.

  6. Pingback: What If Your Dream Isn’t Good Enough? | Anna lind thomas

  7. Thank you! You’re incredible. I’ve been reading your blog todag for hours and I loved it. Your humor writing is wonderful. And this message is perfect in a perfect time of my life ❤❤ keep up the great work

  8. Pingback: The one thing that enables you to truly love others

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