We’re so busy moving through life, we don’t seem to give the idea of purpose much thought. Instead, we place our focus on getting an education, building our careers and families, and achieving financial security.
Something happens when we’ve checked off all those boxes.
- We have the career.
- We have the family.
- We can support ourselves and may even be doing quite well financially.
- We’ve achieved the American Dream.
- We look around and begin to wonder, is this all there is?
We may feel unfulfilled.
We may feel guilty because we have all the things we thought would make us feel happy and whole and yet, we feel a void in our lives.
We begin searching.
When my husband and I were in our forties, we experienced this void. So we began searching to fill it. We invested in personal development. We attended seminars. We started businesses. We set out on a path to become successful and achieve financial freedom. We invested a lot of time, money, and energy trying to fill that void. Trying to find our greater purpose.
We didn’t find what we were looking for.
Instead, it became all about achieving higher and higher levels of success. We felt like we were constantly chasing success because we thought that would fill the void, fulfill our purpose, and make us happy. But you know what happens when you chase something? You don’t catch it because it usually runs the other way!
One day we realized we already had what we were searching for.
Before all the seeking started, we were happy. We were successful. We weren’t comparing ourselves to others, we were merely enjoying and living our own lives. And in our quest for more, we had gotten caught up in what other people deemed success. And we realized it was not a good fit for us.
So we took a step back.
We stopped searching for more. We scaled back our expenses. Sold properties. Closed businesses. Simplified our lives. And stopped trying to reach that million-dollar goal. After all, it had never been our goal. It was someone else’s idea of success. And striving for it certainly was not making us happy.
We circled back to the things we’ve always enjoyed.
And you know what? We found happiness again in our quiet little lives. We realized we love enjoying each other’s company, spending time with our dogs, going hiking together, and just hanging out at home.
I discovered that writing, teaching, and pet therapy all felt very purposeful, and when I spent my time doing those things I was happy. My husband rediscovered his passion for photography and sharing his photos (many of the photos on this site are his).
We try to remember our purpose may be a lot simpler than we think.
It doesn’t have to be about changing the world or becoming well known. You don’t need a million dollars to make a difference in someone’s life. Finding your purpose is about living your truth, not someone else’s.
We realized we were making a difference in our own little ways and decided that was enough. We chose to follow our individual callings, regardless of what anyone else might think. We chose to tune out the voices in our heads from those gurus and “success” experts that said things like “go big or go home,” “the more you make the more people you can help,” and “the more you charge the more value your services have.”
That’s their perspective, not ours.
I don’t know if that’s their purpose, but I do know it’s certainly not ours. It never felt right. And it didn’t make us feel happy or fulfilled, only frustrated.
We’ve also discovered when you stop chasing, the Universe has a way of leading you in the right direction. And, if you pay attention, your purpose finds you.