The thought of having a life’s purpose can be intimidating. To think that our life has meaning or calling can be overwhelming. But we are all here on this earth, so why wouldn’t we make it count? We don’t have to be the best to have purpose. We don’t have to be first to have purpose. We don’t have to hold everything to have purpose. What are you passionate about? What makes you happy? What do you want to change? The answer may be simple. The answer may transform. And that’s ok. Because whatever our answer is, that is where our purpose lies. So run with it.
We can’t map out our life coordinate by coordinate. Because when we’re looking down at the map, we can’t see all the intricate details that lie beyond those dots and lines. But that shouldn’t stop us from figuring out where we want to go. To make plans gives us ambition, drive and purpose. Don’t get caught up in the details. Keep trekking, climbing and swimming. Don’t toss yourself into someone else’s plan, because life might end up just passing you by. Keep finding your own truth.
When we think of purpose, we think of the profound, perhaps the divine, but ultimately the powerful. We think that purpose means setting high expectations of ourselves and of the future. But purpose does not only entail mass movements to change the world and certainly is not bestowed only on particular people.
We all hold a key to a piece of the world. And with that, we all have a purpose. We can claim it and we can change our minds. We can find purpose in small actions and in greater plans. It doesn’t matter what our purpose is or where, how and why we came to it. It doesn’t matter what scale we conceive it to have or what means we have at our disposal. All that matters is we act on it. Because we all have a gift that we can share with the world. Even if we don’t realise it yet.
We all have so much to offer the world, beyond what we realise is valuable, worthy, or important: love, wisdom, appreciation, support, determination, passion, ideas, humour, peace. Our words and actions do not go unnoticed, whether a simple thank you, making someone laugh, lending an ear, sharing an idea, helping someone out, and so on. We don’t need to have stacks of cash or great popularity or extensive knowledge to be worthy and needed. You have worth. You have purpose. You have so much to share. The gift you offer another person is just your being. Do not hide it away.
The truths about the world can be profound. For many of us, purpose lies within these truths. Dreams can manifest into ideas and ideas can manifest into reality. The reality may begin with a minute impact on these profound truths, but ideas can swell into significant answers to problems all around the world.
These are some of my ideas after watching Adam Braun’s talk, “The Five Phrases That Can Change Your Life”, filmed at TedxColumbiaCollege and posted on YouTube. Braun’s journey perhaps didn’t start off traditionally, as it all began with the dream of another: a young child who wanted a pencil and who emulated the desire of millions of children across the globe. Braun is now the founder of Pencils of Promise, an ‘for-purpose’ organisation that builds schools in developing areas, with the mission to positively impact global education.
In his talk, he gives the audience the five phrases that changed his life and that he learnt on his journey, and I thought I’d unpack them a bit here:
- “Get out of your comfort zone” – by exposing ourselves to new opportunities and experiences, we will grow as a person and find paths we never knew we wanted to travel.
- “Challenge your assumptions, so that you can find your truth” – by acknowledging our limitations and being open to discovering and learning, we can better understand who we are and who we want to be.
- “Speak the language of the person you want to become” – the only way ‘who we are’ can catch up with ‘who we want to be’ is to identify those dreams and visions as part of you, even if they have no reality yet.
- “Make the little decisions with your head, and big ones with your heart” – common-sense is obviously necessary for any venture we undertake, but ultimately, our heart will never guide us astray, no matter how many obstacles we encounter, as long as we are persistent.
- “How can you create the most positive impact on as many lives as possible?” – don’t be put off by the idea that working in the service of others needs to be extreme or a global movement; it comes down to using your position and resources in the best way you can to positively impact others.
What phrases or mantras guide you? Leave them in the comments below, as I’d love to hear from you!
Check out the full talk for further advice and inspiration:
Pencils of Promise: pencilsofpromise.org