8 Myths About Finding Your Life Purpose

myths about finding your life purpose

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Don’t be fooled by these myths about finding your life purpose.

When I was younger, I read religiously. Young adult fiction, classic literature, B-rated stories – anything I could get my hands on. A trend started to emerge, both in my selection of the books and the books themselves.

My favorite books always contained a character who was “chosen” to fulfill some grand purpose. Whether it was a prophecy or a fortune, something in their fictional world said, We need you to do this. Nobody else can.

It’s really no wonder, then, why I would wander around my room as a young teen, feeling lost and unfulfilled. I’d journal and daydream and physically search for my purpose. (As if I would find a chest somewhere labeled “Purpose” in the back of my closet, with a prophecy for my life inside.)

I eventually moved past the idea that my purpose is hiding somewhere in my house, waiting to be found. But it took me a long time to figure out where purpose was hiding. Or, perhaps more accurately, that purpose isn’t something to be found.

myths about finding your life purpose.

What is your life purpose?

One of the reasons you’re not finding your life purpose is probably because you don’t know what life purpose is. It’s not your fault; purpose is a vague and abstract concept. And society likes to feed us a bunch of myths about finding your life purpose that take you away from the truth.

So how do you define purpose?

Life purpose is what gives us a sense of direction and fulfillment in life. It motivates us in the most fundamental way, and we feel like the actions we’re taking are worthwhile.

Essentially, purpose is that internal voice that says, “What I’m doing matters.”

And it looks different for everyone. What matters to you might not matter to me. (I’ve seen a 95-minute documentary on a mushroom expert that proves my point). While we might not be “chosen” for some grand prophecy, we are unique individuals with unique interests and strengths.

The common thread, however, is that our purpose has some sort of positive benefit for others. The myths about finding your life purpose make us lose sight of this truth.

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Benefits of disregarding the myths about finding your life purpose

Feeling a sense of purpose doesn’t just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Studies have proven that living with a sense of purpose actually has positive health benefits.

The benefits of finding your life purpose include:

  1. Heightened levels of happiness and well-being
  2. Higher self-esteem and self-worth
  3. Increased longevity
  4. Stronger connections and greater sense of belonging

The benefits are enormous, but you probably didn’t need to read them to want to find your purpose. So why is it so difficult?

We’re thinking about purpose in the wrong way. As a result, we’re looking for the wrong thing.

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8 Myths about Finding Your Life Purpose

One of the biggest reasons you’re not finding your life purpose? You’re looking for the wrong thing.

1. Your purpose needs to be special to you and no one else

Yes, Harry Potter may have been the only “Chosen One” who could defeat the dark wizard, but that’s not a very realistic perspective to take for our purposes. (Not to mention the fact that I still believe Hermione could have done some damage if given a chance).

Your life purpose does not need to be some uniquely special pursuit that only you can carry out.

Are you a unique individual with a unique set of skills? Absolutely. But so are the other 7 billion people on this planet. If you start trying to find something that strikes you as purposeful, you’re bound to overlap with someone else.

Finding your life purpose isn’t about finding something new. It’s about finding something that motivates and fulfills you.

Maybe that’s starting a business, or volunteering at your youth center, or creating elaborate fanfics for a niche audience. Other people will try – and succeed – at the same ventures. Their pursuits should not diminish or deter your own goals.

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2. Your purpose is permanent and unchanging

Another misconception we have is that purpose is permanent and unchanging. As if we were born with a tiny piece of instructions that read, “This human shall do this. And nothing else. And that is final.”

We are continuously evolving as people, so it’s only natural that our purpose can evolve too.

Think about the different stages of your life, perhaps when you were a teenager, in college, at your first job. What was important to you at each age? I’d wager to bet that it changed as you got older.

Purpose comes from doing meaningful work that positively impacts others. This work can and should change.

In high school, I volunteer coached a middle school team. The two practices a week gave me a strong sense of purpose. I stopped coaching in college, but I felt purposeful in my pursuits to excel at my internships. After graduation, I pursued teaching because it gave me a sense of purpose to work with students.

Had I believed that there was only one unchanging purpose for me, I would have closed myself off to many opportunities for growth.

unchanging purpose

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3. Your purpose needs to be one thing and nothing else

Let’s say you are powerfully motivated by what you’re doing at work. You love getting up every day, and you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing on the job. Your efforts give you a great deal of satisfaction. Then, when you leave work, you go home to an incredibly loving family. You dedicate hours to them, deriving deep meaning from your interactions.

Imagine if you felt like you had to choose?

Just as your purpose can change throughout your life, it can also present itself in different ways.

I love teaching and working with teenagers. I derive a great deal of meaning from watching my students grow and improve. It might seem paradoxical, then, for me to launch a blogging venture that takes my attention away from teaching. But I also feel a sense of purpose when I write and engage with an audience.

You can have multiple “purposes,” so to speak. If you open yourself up to this possibility, you might find a considerable amount of stress go away.

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4. Your purpose needs to require hard work and sacrifice

Somewhere between the dramatic movies and heart-wrenching TV shows, we create this notion that a purposeful life requires incredibly hard work and sacrifice. We watch characters slaving away to reach their goal, putting in long hours and giving up other aspects of their life. (I’m picturing Erin Brockovich sacrificing her relationship, time with kids, and sleep to save the day).

Not do these myths about finding your life purpose make you feel less worthy, but it can be incredibly demoralizing.

In our culture of victimhood, it can feel exciting to play the role of the martyr. (Screw self-care, I’ve got coffee!). The thing is, this mindset doesn’t usually pan out in the long run. It also prevents you from finding or excelling at the purposeful work you do have.

Life is about finding balance, and engaging with your sense of purpose is no different.

Yes, doing something that makes you feel a sense of purpose will require some amount of hard work. If it was a piece of cake, it wouldn’t be meaningful. (Unless, of course, your life purpose is to be a baker. In which case, make the best damn piece of cake that you can).

myths about finding your life purpose

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5. Your purpose needs to make you feel motivated 100% of the time

Associating sacrifice with purpose isn’t our only inaccurate connection. We also tend to confuse purpose with unrelenting motivation. As if, once you’ve been sprinkled with the purpose dust, you’ll never feel like doing anything else.

In reality, your purpose might not motivate you 100% of the time. A lot of factors go into motivation, and purpose is just one of them.

We’re human, which means that we’re deeply flawed and complicated beings. Have you ever really wanted to do something, but didn’t get around to it? Maybe you procrastinated or pushed it to the side for something else. Perhaps your emotions got the best of you and took your mind away from your goal.

If you get caught up in these myths about finding your life purpose – that your purpose will infinitely motivate you – you’ll face doubt. You might question, Can this be my purpose if I’m not motivated right now?

The fact of the matter is this: your purpose needs to be motivating, but it might not be motivating all the time. You’ll need to develop your self-awareness and work through your own personal roadblocks before you can fully unlock its full potential for your life.

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6. Your purpose needs to be a solo venture

We live in a culture of individualism that places emphasis on the self. Our ego doesn’t help counteract this mindset, and our fear of vulnerability only adds fuel to the fire. The problem (well, one of the problems) is that it colors our perspective on purpose.

A deadly myth about finding your life purpose is that you have to do it alone.

Think about any of the successes you’ve had in life. Were any of them truly a solo venture? Even pursuits that feel individual still require a team of supporters along the way. For everything I’ve done, I can name a list of people that either encouraged me, taught me, or provided resources for me in some way.

When we view our purpose as a solo venture, we significantly decrease our full potential. This, in turn, will take away from our fulfillment.

Synergy is the notion that two parts, when added together, equal more than the sum of the individuals. Consider how others can enhance your sense of purpose. No rulebook says that you can’t share your purpose with others. The more you can fight back your ego and open yourself up to others, the more you can find greater purpose in your life.

journey

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7. Your purpose needs to have a large-scale impact

Before you have an existential crisis of insignificance (I, myself, had one last Tuesday), you need to consider your metrics of success. How are you defining the scale of your purpose? What does success look like?

When we believe that our purpose needs to have a large-scale impact, we take away our ability to have a real-scale place in our lives.

My friend is incredibly passionate about teaching. She will do anything to improve the way her students are taught so that they can receive the best education possible. Since her five years at my school, she’s changed her curriculum, implemented a school-wide project period, and shared her opinion on countless strategy teams. Her efforts have had an enormous impact on our student body.

Had she taken her purpose – to improve education – and expected it to impact the national level, she might come away feeling disappointed. Our purpose can be large-scale, but it doesn’t have to be.

You might feel a sense of purpose by helping a small group of people in your life. That’s entirely okay and entirely meaningful.

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8. Your purpose needs to fit in with cultural standards

Cultural standards not only have us believing these myths about finding your life purpose. We’re also influenced by false societal narratives about what is purposeful.

Your purpose only needs to do two things: give you a sense of fulfillment and positively impact at least one other person.

Society tries to fill our heads about what is meaningful, tricking us with its persistent, and inaccurate, messages. Our culture tells us that we should value money, status, materialism, and fame. We live in a society of more, more, more.

In reality, this a myth about finding your life purpose; it has nothing to do with these false cultural narratives.

When it comes to living a meaningful life, we need to tap into things much more innate. Humans are social creatures, and it’s in our sense of belonging that we’ll find purpose.

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Conclusion

Life purpose is what gives us a sense of direction and fulfillment in life. It motivates us in the most fundamental way, and we feel like the actions we’re taking are worthwhile. Feeling a sense of purpose has many health benefits for our lives, including higher self-esteem, greater happiness, increased longevity, and stronger relationships.

The reason many of us struggle to find our life purpose is that we are defining it incorrectly. We must shed these 8 myths about finding your life purpose:

  1. Your purpose needs to be special to you and no one else
  2. Your purpose is permanent and unchanging
  3. Your purpose needs to be one thing and nothing else
  4. Your purpose needs to require hard work and sacrifice
  5. Your purpose needs to make you feel motivated 100% of the time
  6. Your purpose needs to be a solo venture
  7. Your purpose needs to have a large-scale impact
  8. Your purpose needs to fit in with cultural standards

When you disregard these myths about find your life purpose, you can open our lives up to a whole new sense of purpose and possibility.

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FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

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Comment below with answers, ideas, and more questions, or contact me to collaborate on a future post!

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EXPLORING YOURSELF

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What do you think of when you hear the word purpose?

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Which of these myths holds the strongest influence over you?

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What gives you purpose in life?

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EXPANDING YOUR WORLD

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Why does having a sense of purpose increase longevity?

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Can humans create a sense of purpose?

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How are our perceptions shaped by cultural messages?

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3 thoughts on “8 Myths About Finding Your Life Purpose”

  1. It’s interesting to me that your purpose doesn’t motivate you 100% of the time. I always imagine purpose as something that you would always be motivated to do.

  2. Fantastic blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any tips? Kudos!

    1. Hi Delicia, thanks! I love that you want to pursue writing. I can defffffinitely relate to the beginning lost stages. It’s a TON of information and it’s a lot to digest.(I’m still learning). Before you do anything, I would suggest you consider your goals first. Do you want to write as a fun hobby because it gives you joy? Do you want to try to create a blog that can make money (even if it’ll take awhile)? If it’s more for you, starting free might be best, because you can always upgrade later as you figure out what you want. However, if you really want to make it something or have a bit of accountability, paying can help and will also give you more options. Send me an email if you want to continue this conversation (kara@myquestionlife.com) – I’d love to connect and answer questions as you start your writing pursuits!

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