Living in Alignment with Your Purpose

This is the last part of a 7-part series on how to find your life purpose.

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(Image: emdot)

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” — Howland, Bette

Now that you discover your purpose, it does not end here. This is when life truly begins! :D The next step is to set your life goals based on your purpose. This is very important as setting goals ensure that you get the most out of your purpose and creates accountability for yourself. Days 2-5 of my Live a Better Life in 30 Days are about goal setting and creating your action plan.

Managing Disconnects between Your Life and Purpose

Depending on how you have been living your life before discovering your purpose, your current life path may be at odds with your real purpose. Perhaps your purpose is to advocate for animal rights, but you are working in an industry that contributes to animal cruelty. Maybe you want to raise the consciousness of humans but you work in a beauty company that keeps the consciousness of women low, in levels of fear, desire, and pride, so that they will keep buying beauty products.

Instead of feeling liberated with your purpose, you may feel disjointed. Even though you have found your purpose and passion, you are now bound by your circumstances. You feel trapped and miserable because you can’t do what you love.

Here, some people may subscribe to an “Ignorance is Bliss” belief. They block off their purpose, thinking that they are better off ignoring it. To them, this is better than the alternate scenario where they know their passion but cannot realize it.

This belief is a fallacy though. Notice the root word of ignorance is “ignore.” By choosing ignorance, you are ignoring the real you. You live in your fears. You nest yourself in the false security created by your external possessions. Over time, you live the life of a timid mouse rather than being the bold, fearless lion you are meant to be. When you choose ignorance, you live a life of denial. You may feel happy denying the truth, but this is temporary. The truth will continue to blow at you like a great storm howling against the weak veneer of denial. In time to come, your falsehoods will come crashing down. Isn’t it better to learn to deal with the truth now than be forced to do so later on?

Just because it is difficult to achieve your purpose doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Some of the best things in life come from perseverance. The greater the challenge, the greater the reward. If goals are always easy to achieve, then what’s the point in having them?

Recognize that your current life today was built by you in the past. Since you were not aware of your purpose before, there’s no reason why you would be miraculously living your purpose now. All the external aspects of your life today, from your job to friendships to relationships, are a product of your thoughts, actions, and decisions from the past. They represent who you used to be, not who you are right now.

Detach yourself from them. Just as you have created everything around you in the past, you can remove them and create a new life that reflects the new you. For example, maybe you are in a job that doesn’t reflect your purpose. Maybe your current relationships pull you down. Work on finding a new job that fits your purpose. Work on finding new relationships that support you in your new path.

Nothing in our reality is permanent. No matter how entrenched your current reality seems, it is a matter of time before it fades away and becomes replaced with new creations that represent the new you today.

How to Transition to Your Life Purpose

For some of you, maybe there is a huge gap between where you are now and your ideal vision. Maybe you do not have the skills to succeed in your goals. Maybe you cannot make a living with your purpose right away.

This is totally okay. Nobody said that you have to jump forward and be at your endpoint right away. No matter where you are, start by building the bridge to link your current position and your desired endpoint. Identify commonalities between the two points to facilitate the move. Build mini-steps that you can do every day. Do what you can, within your ability, within your context, in the best way possible.

Because life is not about reaching that endpoint. Life is about living in alignment with your purpose every day, to your best of abilities.

Say your purpose is to touch people’s lives and inspire them. Your passion lies in music and your goal is to become a full-time pianist. However, you are currently working as an IT programmer. While these two jobs may be starkly different at first sight, start by identifying the gaps that stand between where you are now and where you want to be. Perhaps you do not know how to play the piano. Maybe being a pianist is not a practical job to make a living. While your end goal seems like a castle in the air, it is up to you to build the ladders to the castle so that you can reach it. Don’t expect to quit your IT job and become a successful pianist immediately, because that is not logical.

Develop your strategy and action plan. Start taking up piano lessons after office-hours. Read books by pianists and musicians and their experiences as they formed their careers. Listen to music from your favorite pianists and musicians when you have the chance.

Remind yourself of your goal by placing relevant imagery prominently on your work desk and your room. Join musician communities in your local area. Look up resources on music and pianos. Make your own compositions and share them with people around you. Showcase your skills by playing in front of your friends and in parties.

When you are good enough, start playing (pro bono or otherwise) in lounges and bars. Even at your workplace, you can live true to your purpose in other ways. Remember, your purpose is to touch people’s lives and inspire them. You can do that by being there for them, being kind and caring — without using music.

The most important thing is to live your purpose every day, to your best ability, within your constraints, because there is no better way you can do it.

In time to come, you will find that you have shed most of the old structures in your life. People start to associate you as a musician. People start to pay you to play at events. All of a sudden, becoming a full-time pianist does not seem such an unreachable goal after all. By then, you would have taken enough baby steps such that there is just one final step needed to reach your goal. :)

How I Transitioned to My Real Purpose

When I discovered my life purpose to help people in 2006, I had just graduated and was about to start working at a consumer goods company. It was conflicting for me because my passion is in human development, whereas the industry I was entering is rooted in consumerism. To me, consumerism perpetuates a negative phenomenon in the society. I felt disjointed.

Instead of taking drastic actions to change my job, I introspected and realized that being in the job puts me in a better position to help people – simply because it allows me to first grow, by learning the best-in-class practices in a multi-national corporation.

So after I started working, I focused all my efforts on growing. I constantly asked for more projects and responsibilities from my managers, while performing to the best of my abilities on the work I was given. I took both formal and informal training very seriously in the company. At the same time, I would read up on personal development during my spare time to better myself.

In line with living my purpose to help others grow, helping people with their problems and building my skills were always my priorities over work deadlines. I always made it a point to understand my teammates as individuals and friends rather than colleagues, which allowed me to build very meaningful relationships with them.

After two years of learning and growing, I quit my job to plan my next steps in accordance with my purpose. I decided to start this blog to reach out to other people online. I started to form coaching relationships with some friends to bring out the best in them while continuing to offer a listening ear and advice to my other friends.

Every day, I live my purpose to my best ability. I eventually turned my passion into my career, training and coaching full time through Personal Excellence. Before this happened though, I was already of the mindset that reaching this end goal would not be matter hugely to me. Why? That’s because I was already perfectly happy living my purpose, every day. I learned that it is not about reaching the end but living in the now. It’s by achieving this inner peace that I could quietly and confidently build my business and take it to success.

As you pursue your purpose, remember that it is about living in alignment with it as best as you can now, within your ability and situations you are in. As long as you do that, take pride in knowing that you are living your life in the best manner possible. Nothing can take you away with this knowledge. :)

For more on turning a purpose into a full-time career/business, check out my How To Pursue Your Passion series.

This is the last part of a 7-part series on how to find your life purpose.