Why Are You Here: Beginnings
This is the second in a series of articles focused on finding your purpose in life. If you haven’t read the first yet, I encourage you to click on the link on the right side of the page titled “Why Are You Here”.
Now that everyone is on the same page, we’ll jump right in. The focus of the last article was to introduce the topic and to establish an awareness of the need for a purpose in your life. The focus of this article is to help you identify and accept your starting point.
What do you mean by identifying and accepting your starting point. I’m here right? That means I’m starting now, right?
Sure, that’s one way of viewing things, where exactly are you now? In my experience, this is an important question. Everyone is at a different point in their life’s journey, but one thing remains constant, we all have baggage. That’s right, you have baggage, and there is nothing wrong with that. If having baggage precluded you from a life of purpose and meaning then I daresay we’re all in trouble.
The thing about baggage is that it represents the past. In fact, one way of defining baggage is to say it is the sum of the changes in your thoughts, behaviors and actions as a result of your past experiences and memories. Think about that. Your baggage is almost invariably logical. In most cases, it is a reaction to pain or fear.
Yeah, it doesn’t have to be anything that has actually happened to you. For example, ever since seeing the movie Jaws I have absolutely fascinated with and terrified of sharks. I’m so terrified of sharks that I can’t bring myself to go more than ankle deep in the ocean and even have a hard time in swimming pools sometimes because my imagination gets carried away. This is baggage. It keeps me from enjoying my life to the fullest.
We also have baggage in our lives based on the decisions that we’ve made. This is probably the more traditional version of the word. It encompasses things like ex’s, jobs, possessions, location, etc. These decisions may weigh on us uncomfortably over time and limit our available options when we think about how we want to spend our time and what we want to do with our lives.
All this talk about baggage is interesting, but what does it really have to do with finding your purpose in life?
With all of that baggage weighing us down it is very hard for us to get moving. After all, who are you to live a powerful, purpose-filled life? Who are you to accomplish great things with the time you have on this earth? Aren’t you the person who got laughed at in high-school? Aren’t you the person who hasn’t been able to hold down a job? Aren’t you the one who is a single parent who can barely make ends meet?
Stop beating yourself up! Stop killing yourself with your words! God put you here for a reason. You exist for a reason. And even if you feel like you’ve screwed up, even if you have a ton of different things weighing you down you can make a change. It all starts when you make a choice to figure out the right direction and to start moving towards it. Soon you’ll build up your momentum and break through the barriers that are blocking your path.
Every person who has ever walked the earth has had baggage. Moses was afraid to speak publicly but he became God’s mouthpiece to a nation. Teddy Roosevelt was a sickly and weak child who went on to be the U.S. President most known for his courage and hardiness. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore and went on to become one of the most famous athletes on the planet.
Everyone you’ve mentioned is a historical superstar. I’m just a normal person, I can’t do those things.
It’s ok, you don’t have to be phenomenal. Your purpose may not be huge. Maybe you are meant to give comfort to people in nursing homes. Perhaps you’re meant to encourage those who do have larger than life destinies. Maybe you’re meant to be the person that helps your children’s friends work through problems that they won’t talk to their parent’s about. It isn’t about being “great”; it’s about finding your life’s purpose and working towards it. When you do that, the result is always great.
When you look back at those superstars you’ll notice something interesting. None of them got rid of all of their baggage. But they got rid of just enough to believe in their dream, to chase after their purpose and accomplish it. That’s the same thing you’ve got to do. You must identify the baggage that holds you back. Do you have a gift for helping people but you’re mad at the world? Are you a good leader who is leading people in the wrong direction? Would you take the time to reach out and help somebody in need if only you had the confidence that they wouldn’t reject you?
Before you can ever identify and chase after your purpose in life you need to identify the things that hold you back, the things that you use for excuses, the things that keep you from reaching out. You need to identify them, and actively work to move past them. Your baggage originated in the past, leave it there. Embrace who you are now and realize how great you can be if you work at it.
But I have children/ a huge mortgage/lost my job. I can’t just make that disappear.
You’re right, you can’t. It’s ok. Let’s say you have been blessed with children. If people with children aren’t able to find their purpose and chase after it then we’re all doomed. I don’t believe that for a second. Accept that you have children. Embrace it. Now, from that starting point, how will you move forward? You still have a choice. Maybe you did lose your job, unless you can get it back then it’s gone forever, accept it, learn from it and move past it. Start now, who are you and what will you do?
Life is a series of choices. Every day brings multiple choices and the choices that we make will ultimately determine where we end up and how happy we are. You can’t change the choices you’ve made in the past but you can learn from those choices and make better ones today and in the future.
Sometimes when things get too big for me I remind myself that I’m shaping my life one choice at a time. I don’t need to do everything at once. I just need to realize when I’m making a choice (i.e. work late or go home early, do something productive or play video game, etc) and then make the one that is best for me now and in the long run. In the end, the big picture will sort itself out in my favor as long as my good choices significantly outweigh my poor ones.
Ok, time to close up shop. I hope you guys found this helpful. The next article in the series will focus on your passions and dreams.
Creating a Life on Purpose