Many of us will have come across the concept of life purpose on our self-development journeys. The idea that we all have a personal mission that we are here on this planet to fulfill. In principle, this theory can be the source of much inspiration and energy. There’s a special agent vibe that can fire us up to seek out our personal assignment and ultimately find the work we were born to do.
I think there are a couple of downsides to adopting this concept. The first is that any time we decide that there is one thing (and one thing only) that we are meant to be doing, we are limiting ourselves in so many other ways. We can avoid this trap by ensuring that the purpose we assume is a big enough box for us to grow into. If we make the box too small initially, as we evolve, we might outgrow our assignment and eventually need to find a different direction altogether (the basis of many a mid-life crisis!).
Apart from ensuring that our box is big enough for growth, the other problem I have witnessed clients encounter is a lack of clarity about what they should be doing. Lacking clarity is the fastest way to stall your life and if you have knowing your life purpose as a prerequisite to moving forward, you can get stuck very quickly. A bit like Neo’s consumption of the red pill in the film the Matrix, once you know that you are supposed to have a life purpose, you can’t get back to the blissful ignorance of not knowing. What you are doing now has to have meaning, otherwise you feel flat, unfulfilled or disgruntled.
So if you don’t yet know your life purpose, what do you do whilst you are waiting? Rather than thinking in terms of one core life purpose, we can instead start thinking in terms of gifts. Our gifts are our strengths. No one else in this world has had the same experiences as you. No one has learnt all that you have learnt. No one has developed exactly the same set of skills. That in itself makes you unique and special. Whether you have clarity on your life purpose or not, I believe that everyone has more gifts to offer the world than they consciously know. And when we share those gifts willingly and freely, we make a significant and consistent difference to the world and get the reciprocal benefits of a life of contribution.
I call this the model of service. It is exceptionally freeing because nothing in your life needs to change in order for you to start serving. Whether you are the CEO of a blue chip company or flipping burgers in a fast food restaurant, the model of service is open to us all. So how does it work?
Rather than trying to pursue a life purpose, we simply ask ourselves each and every day how we can be of service to others. You take each situation and you serve to the best of your ability. In this model, there is no need for reward or recognition. The benefit to you is the feel-good vibes of knowing you are being of Divine service. You serve that grumpy customer with a smile because you feel good when you are being happy. You willingly do what your boss asks because it feels good to do so. You offer to assist or support someone in need because it just feels good to help.
Being of service is simply a mindset and attitude. The best kind of service is when you are using your natural gifts to make a difference. So knowing what you are good at can really support this approach to the world.
Therefore, I’d like to set you a challenge. Over the next few days, create a list of 100 of your gifts. Think about all that you have learnt to reach this point in your life/career. Consider how you have helped others in the past. Reflect on all of your peak experiences. What did you have to be good at for that to happen? These are the basis of your gifts list.
Take some time to tune into your gifts. You will find it so much easier to identify situations to be of service. Maybe you will discover your life purpose or perhaps being of service is the only mission you will ever need to feel successful.