Why looking for purpose can lead to paralysis

Maybe it’s time to knock purpose off its pedestal.

Photo Credit: Ran Berkovich

You hear it all the time. Everyone was put on this earth for a grand purpose. And once you find yours, everything will fall into place like a cascade of rainbow sprinkles on the ice cream cone of life. Of course, until that magic moment comes, your entire existence will be empty and meaningless.

Please. Stop. Believing. This.

Because what all those voices fail to mention is that sometimes, the relentless quest for purpose can stop you dead in your tracks.

Sometimes, looking for purpose keeps you from trying new things just for shits and giggles.

Sometimes, looking for purpose stops you from doing what you love because it’s not getting you anywhere.

Sometimes, looking for purpose forces you to forego fun, and adventure, and any exploration that doesn’t lead to some type of achivement.

And when you fall into this well of psyche sabotage, purpose is the last thing you’re going to find down there in the muck.

So here are a few things to keep in mind.

Finding your purpose is like dating.

Photo Credit: Wayne Robinson

You have no idea what’s going to stir your soul if you don’t get out there and try a bunch of different things. Most of those things will not be “the one.” But many will be exciting, or inspiring, or just plain fun, at least for a little while. And every single one will add to your understanding of who you are, what you want, and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t want. So go ahead. Let your soul have its slutty phase. No one’s watching (unless you’re into that).

Floundering does not equal failure.

Photo credit: Christoffer Engström

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have been bitten by the purpose bug early on in life (you know, like those people whose magnificent childhood Lego palaces foretold a dazzling future in architecture), chances are you’ve floundered a bit on your way to your one true calling. You may be floundering still. And that’s okay. Better to flounder on than to let the pressure of your search sink you like a stone.

Having a purpose does make you pretty damn unstoppable.

Photo credit: Stephanie McCabe

Make no mistake about it. Finding that sense of purpose will make life more fulfilling, more thrilling, more rainbow sprinkled. It’s sort of like having a super power that makes every course of action clearer. But, your calling may not come at you like a lighting bolt from the sky. It probably won’t knock on your door one day and say, “Hey there, I’m your raison d’etre!” It could be something that slowly presents itself to you over time as you continue to test the waters. To have adventures. To pay attention to what you love and what gives you life.

You’re allowed to have more than one purpose.

Photo credit: Michael Hull

Surprise! There is neither a quota nor a limit on your purpose. You could finally find that purpose you’ve been searching for all your life, then a year later, a whole new set of priorities could point you down a different path. You could think you’ve discovered the passion to end all passions, then you try something just as amazing and suddenly you have two reasons to jump out of bed in the morning. That doesn’t mean you’re noncommittal or indecisive. It means you’re open to the many opportunities and possibilities that life brings your way. Lucky you.


Thanks for reading!

If you liked this post, please take a second to recommend it. I’m new to Medium, so every heart means a lot. I’m currently floundering towards purpose myself. You can learn more about my journey at Operation Goosebumps, join it yourself on Facebook, and contact me directly at diane@operationgoosebumps.com.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Diane Levine’s story.