How to Stay on the Path of Purpose
You may not even know what your purpose is yet.
But if you’re anything like me, you‘ll have a strong drive to create in your heart. A longing in your gut to do something great.
You will instinctively know that you have the potential to create something meaningful. Something that moves people, and maybe even helps them or changes their perspective in a significant way.
Deep down, we all know we have (real) work to do.
There’s only one issue: how do we take our life’s work into our own hands if we don’t know what it is? For most of us, it only becomes clear one piece at a time, as we progress through life — like a very long and complicated jigsaw puzzle. But there are four things we can do to support this process:
1. Be Your Own Private Detective
We must act as a private detective, piecing together the puzzle as we ourselves produce each clue, in small chunks, over a lifetime.
And isn’t solving the mystery part of what keeps us interested?
We tend to admire TV detectives for their tenacity and commitment to discovering the truth. We need to be just as thorough and stubborn when uncovering the truth about ourselves and our purpose.
2. Strengthen Your Foundations
Accepting that there is an ever-evolving mystery and that solving it is part and parcel of the journey makes the bumps in the road easier to navigate.
That doesn’t mean everything will be plain-sailing though (to mix transportation metaphors a little).
We have to grit our teeth and strengthen our foundations so we can face the inevitable tough times ahead, and be mindful enough to notice when things are good so we can be truly present and enjoy them.
3. Take One Day at a Time
Steve Jobs said:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Maybe in hindsight, you’ll be able to see a larger pattern that ties all your efforts together. For now though, just think about each day as it comes.
Most of us will also have times when we lose hope and fall back to the path of least resistance, where we make little progress, and our creative work falls to the wayside. That’s ok. It’s normal. (It happens to me all the time!)
Count each day that you do manage to be creative as a small victory. Tick that day off in your calendar and then try not to ‘break the chain’, by doing a little more the next day, and the day after that.
And if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. But as Leo Babauta recommends, try not to miss two straight days, because the longer you leave any creative practice, the harder it is to get started again.
Those small steps will eventually build on themselves and become something much bigger.
4. Prioritize Health and Peace of Mind
If you’re a creative person, it’s unlikely you will be happy if you don’t feel like you’re making progress towards fulfilling your life’s work. Many of us come to realize that our lives must be designed to enable us to fulfill this purpose.
Therefore we must look after our health, simplify our lives, and prioritize peace of mind so our art can come forth.
“By allowing our art to come forth we can start to unearth the answers in our own hearts.”
I said that.
And I wouldn’t have come up with it at all if I hadn’t purposefully committed to taking these four steps.
An older version of this article was published at clearmindedcreative.com