Today is the first Sunday of Advent. This is the beginning of the season where we of the Western tradition begin to reflect and celebrate the light (wisdom, power, spirit) of the divine being manifested in humans. A few years ago I felt inspired to write an essay on the topic of Advent and Christmas, and that calling happened again today on the related topic of recognizing one’s life purpose(s).
As many of you know I’m a big fan of social media, especially Twitter.com (@kevinhouchin) and Facebook (Kevin E. Houchin). I recently posted the following and received a couple responses that motivated me to start writing.
The question about HOW to recognize purpose is a question that a lot of people have. While I don’t profess to have THE answer, I think I have AN answer–one that I’ve shared in my Fuel the Spark books, in my workshops, seminars, and keynotes, and will definitely share again in my next book: The Secrets of Creative Business. But I don’t want you to have to wait or have to pay for this, because sharing this information is at the heart of MY purpose on the planet.
First, and this is VERY important, understand that you are not searching for your purpose, instead, the goal is to recognize your purpose. Searching for your purpose will lead you to failure every time, because by searching, you are looking outside yourself to find something that’s already inside you. If you search outside yourself, you’ll be fooled into accepting what other people think your purpose should be as what your purpose really is.
Second, know that you probably have more than one purpose, or at least more than one way to manifest that purpose in the world. Properly stated, your purpose will never be “completed” but you will always be in the process of fulfilling the purpose without “failure.” Many times, if you feel that you have more than one purpose, each purpose you state will be related in some form to a higher purpose that you have not yet recognized and articulated. I’ll give you an example and then we’ll move on to why recognizing your purpose has become so difficult.
I created my purpose statement using the tools and structure from the book Inspire: What Great Leaders Do by Lance Secretan. (No, I don’t have an affiliate relationship with Lance.) This is one of my favorite books ever and one I think everyone should read. My kids will be required to read this as soon as I think they can understand what’s being discussed and I’ll probably read it out loud to them well before they can read it on their own. Lance breaks purpose down into three statements: Destiny, Cause, and Calling. Here are mine:
- Destiny: To reach my full potential in this lifetime by helping as many other people as I can reach their full potential in this lifetime.
- Cause: Every person on Earth recognizes their personal spark of divinity and begins to share their flame.
- Calling: Writing and speaking around the world to share the recognition of the personal divine spark and give people the tools they need to be accountable and share their spark.
This essay is a step toward fulfilling my purpose on the planet. My law practice, where I help people find ways to make their living through creative business (sharing their spark of divinity) is another. My books and speaking events are a literal calling to help people understand these concepts and then have the tools to act on what they’ve recognized in themselves. In a quite moment last night I literally heard my little voice say I needed to write this essay for my friends Terri and Marla who commented on Facebook, and share the essay with the world via my blog. I know my purpose. Now let’s get back to recognizing yours.
Understand that it’s not your fault if you can’t articulate your purpose yet, because it’s not something we’re taught in Western culture. In fact, our entire culture seems to be structured around obscuring your purpose or providing you with all kinds of false paths. This isn’t done intentionally. Most of the people providing these false paths to nowhere do it out of love and pure intention, but as we’ve discussed, anything coming from outside yourself is going to be a false path. Most of the time, these folks who are trying to help you find your purpose really have no sense of their own which means this isn’t really their fault either.
Your parents provided purpose in your life. They sent you to school, they taught by example, they taught by providing positive and negative feedback for your actions. Many of us discuss what we want to be when we grow up with our parents and sometimes our parents do far too much to drive that decision down a path that THEY define as “success” or “security” out of love for you and sometimes out of a desire to reach some unrecognized or unfulfilled purpose of their own.
If you were lucky enough to have some great teachers in your life, they probably exhibited some examples of purpose for you. How many people wanted to grow to be like one of their teachers or coaches? While at school, you find friends and those friends help shape your dreams, goals, and definitions of success – for better or worse. After school, you go to work and the culture of the job or company shapes your purpose.
The religion of your parents, friends, and nation also shapes your definition of life purpose, usually with a moral undertone, but again as an influence from outside. How many times has religion been used as a tool to bend people’s purposes from what is inside them to what is willed from behind the pulpit. No religion is exempt from these examples and I believe that most of the time the outside influence is delivered with the purest of intentions. But none of these influences will guide you to your true life purpose, because your purpose can’t be FOUND because it’s not LOST. It’s inside you right now. All you need to do is recognize, accept, and surrender.
I’m about to share with you the most powerful (yet simple) tool and process for recognizing your life’s purpose that I’ve found, and I’ve been working on this for YEARS. But first you have to be in a state to use the tool. This process can be used in your personal life, your career, or even at a business planning level. To make it work, you have to be able to get quiet.
Western culture doesn’t like people to be quiet. We’re bombarded with stuff every second. I do workshops and ask the attendees to just sit quietly and look at a dot on the wall for just one minute. To a person all of them think it’s the longest 60 seconds they’ve ever spent. We are taught to multi-task. We are taught to be on the go all the time. We are not taught to just be. We are not taught how to find the space between thoughts, but it’s in the space between that we find the place where God, the Universe, Spirit, Zero Point Field, or whatever you call the higher power can speak to us in a language we understand. It’s there right now trying to help you recognize your purpose. The tool I’m about to share can help you find the space between thoughts and get quiet enough to recognize why you’re on the planet. Nobody can do this for you.
This process is not about searching, but it does involve some work, focus and commitment. It’s not hard, and if done right is actually fun, fulfilling, instantly and permanently rewarding. Are you ready to start?
It starts with this quote from an incredible book called The Universal Traveler:
The most profound choice in life is either to accept things as they exist or to accept the personal responsibility for changing them.
What does that quote have to do with life purpose? EVERYTHING.
Your life purpose is simply the thing you accept personal responsibility to change.
It really is that simple, because when you’ve truly accepted the personal responsibility to change something in the world, your path unfolds with opportunities for inspired action and your life will never be the same. Everything you do will be moving you toward the goal of fulfilling the responsibility you have accepted and if something doesn’t move you toward that change you either won’t do it for long or you won’t do it at all.
The work is figuring out where you TRULY and DEEPLY ACCEPT the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to CHANGE something.
There are plenty of problems in the world that need solved. There are plenty of things that need changed. What are you going to accept as your problem or problems to solve?
What can you NOT live with as it exists?
I can’t live with people going through life in ignorance of the spark of divinity that lives inside them. I can’t stomach people living lives of quiet desperation working in a cubical at a job they hate waiting to have fun only on the weekends because they don’t know how to start their own businesses doing what they love. So, I became a Creative Business Lawyer, started this blog, and have been writing in an effort to change that situation.
I can’t stand how law school takes our brightest, most idealistic young people and beats the creativity and idealism out of them, redefining the definition of success into a trap of top 10% and six-figure salaries doing work they hate and feeding a lifestyle of internal and external conflict. So, I try to help change law schools through helping law school administrators better define their branding, and wrote a book to help law students stay balanced in the face of this 3-year+ hazing ritual. Finally, I wrote a book to help practicing attorneys recognize the trap they may be in and find a way out in order to truly use their passion and skill to manifest their purpose in life.
What can YOU not live with as is?
When you answer that question in the sincerity of your heart and soul, you’ve taken the most profound step toward recognizing your purpose(s) in life because all you have to do is flip the statement around.
Your purpose in life is to change the thing(s) that you can’t live with as they exist.
It’s just that simple. And that difficult.
When you’ve found the quiet place to do this work, it will come to you. You will recognize your purpose. You will be inspired to act in authenticity in every element of your being and every moment of every day.
I could expand on this quite a bit – and in fact, I will. IMPLEMENTING this work is at the core of my next book, The Secrets of Creative Business. When you know your purpose, it will be time to act and I believe at a soul-level that the best way to implement one’s purpose in life is through founding and building one’s own busines and aligning one’s VOCATION with one’s Purpose and AVOCATION.
Recognize your purpose. Accept the personal responsibility. Surrender to that path and you will find more power than you’ve ever imagined you could wield.
Recognize Your Spark. Share Your flame.