Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. He who looks outside, dreams. He who looks inside, awakens. — Carl Jung
Table of Contents:
- Is Having A Purpose Real Or Imagined?
- Discovering Your Purpose
- Exploring Purpose
- Experiencing Purpose
- Life Purpose Examples
My journey to discovering my purpose started back in 2012 when I woke up one day and realised there had to be more to life than existing, achieving things and then dying.
I realised that my life was a series of routines I would perform every day – living a life on autopilot.
That’s when I started my purpose journey – by researching all I could about purpose and meaning in life. I consumed a lot of content, experimented with other people’s ideas, took all the tests and quizzes, and spent money on courses and books trying to uncover what my purpose was.
It wasn’t until I directed my journey toward discovering my true self that things started to shift and change for me. I stopped looking outside myself for the answers and started to seek the answers within.
I made a transition from wanting to discover my purpose to contemplating my very existence. By exploring the question “Who am I really?”
That journey back to self and uncovering my true nature helped me to understand purpose in a different way.
Is Having A Purpose Real Or Imagined?
Let’s cut straight to the question of whether purpose is real or imagined.
Is discovering your purpose just a desire of our ego and should not be entertained? Or is it something that impacts our very existence and helps us navigate our life?
Some teachings in the world talk about how seeking purpose is just a concern of the ego and that enlightenment is our purpose.
Other teachings discuss how we create our own reality and therefore it is up to us to seek what is purposeful to us.
With all these differing opinions, beliefs, and perceptions around purpose, it can get quite confusing on what might be the truth.
The way I approach this question is that it goes back to a feeling – not something I determine through logic and my mind.
When I contemplate whether purpose is real or imagined in my life, I feel that it is something real for me. I came to this conclusion through my experiences and exploration of purpose in my life, as you will read shortly.
If you are still at the stage of determining whether discovering your purpose is real and something you want to pursue in your life, this may seem like a totally foreign concept. And that is perfectly okay.
Deciding to discover your purpose and live in alignment with it is a personal choice. You don’t win an award or become part of an elite club by embarking upon this journey.
Life is a personal journey and you can decide to experience it exactly how you wish to. You can choose to believe it is real or believe it is imagined. Either way, it’s your choice.
Before we move on and maybe to provide some insight into your beliefs, I encourage you to contemplate the following for yourself:
Is there a difference between reality and imagination?
Discovering Your Purpose
As you read through the following content, I would like to share the following with you.
The Concept of Purpose
I intentionally deconstructed purpose into 3 distinct concepts during my own personal journey to help me to navigate the enormous amount of content I was exploring.
It also assisted me (when I was more logic-driven) to split them out and explore them separately. This helped me get a feel for how they integrated together and showed up in my life. This was just a personal preference and may or may not resonate with you.
I do find, however, that splitting them out and teaching them to others in this way helps them gain amazing insights on where they get stuck in life seeking purpose and not finding it.
Exploring vs Experiencing Purpose
The content below about Exploring Purpose is intended to help you gain knowledge around what purpose may mean for you and how it shows up in your life.
Whereas, the content about Experiencing Purpose is intended to highlight to you at a deeper level how you may already be experiencing purpose and what it generally feels like.
These together should help you come to your own conclusions about purpose.
Your Journey is Yours
The work here is the result of my own personal journey and the systems and processes I used to help me to uncover my purpose and to live a life aligned to my true nature. This is by no means a definitive work, an answer to all questions on purpose, or an endpoint or destination to reach.
As with everything in life, your journey is yours. And as such you will experience the content in your own unique way. My hope is that the teaching will encourage you to question everything in your life, and even to question the teaching itself.
It is through questioning that we come to our own truth.
When I was on my purpose journey, I came up with a logical method of explaining and exploring purpose in my life. Through my experience, I came up with the 3 Purposes to help me explore what purpose meant for me.
The 3 perspectives of purpose include:
- Life Purpose – the perspective of the Ego
- Soul’s Purpose – the perspective of our True Self
- Universe Consciousness Purpose – the perspective of our True Nature
Before we explore the 3 purposes, I would like to share my thoughts around the difference between our True Self and our True Nature as these terms will appear throughout the remaining text.
True Self refers to who we are in relation to our understanding of our egoic nature. As we develop and mature our ego (Grow Up) we explore who we are from the place of ego and we begin to unfold what our True Self is and isn’t.
When this becomes known to us, we can seek to live in alignment with our True Self. This level of exploration is where most people on a purpose journey travel towards. It is also the level where most people remain. Which is perfectly okay, as each of us experiences our own unique version of what is true to us.
Understanding our True Self is an important part of our journey as it helps our True Nature experience all it seeks to fulfill its purpose.
True Nature refers to who we are in relation to our understanding that we are one with all, that we are more than who we perceive ourselves to be. It can be understood as our spirit, the timeless aspect of being, the consciousness that we are.
When this becomes known to us, we can seek to live in alignment with our True Nature. At this level of exploration, True Nature is seeking to express itself, to know and become aware of itself, to embody life in human form.
This is where our exploration of our True Self is important. As the more we understand about ourselves and seek to live a life in alignment to our true self, our True Nature becomes a living embodiment of that expression. Which in turn, seeks to awaken and align to its true nature.
At this point, we dance between growing up and waking up as we explore, express, and experience who we truly are. And seek to live in alignment to that – our Whole self.
Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it. ― Buddha
Now back to the 3 Purposes…
Our life purpose is what most of us spend our time exploring and attempting to figure out as we journey through life. When someone is first uncovering, “What is my purpose?” it is generally in relation to this perspective of purpose.
Our life purpose is determined through a combination of our:
- strengths and weaknesses
- passions, likes, and dislikes
- talents, skills, and abilities
- who we identify ourselves to be in the world (ie. a profession, a parent, a mentor, a daughter/son, an employee, etc.)
A person’s life purpose does not necessarily need to be the work that they do. Your life purpose might be to take care of a sick relative, or to be a parent to your children, for example.
A life purpose is also not just one thing. You can have many life purposes based on how you wish to live your life and how you want to identify your experience in the world.
For example: Person A may believe their life purpose is to be a doctor; while Person B who is also a doctor believes their life purpose is to raise socially aware children.
Our life purpose is something that we make it and create it to be.
I often hear people make comments like:
- There is no purpose or meaning in life
- I am bored, I have no purpose
- If I have a purpose my life would be amazing.
Secret #1: Your life purpose is in your hands and can be whatever you want it to be. You create your experience and belief in your life of what is meaningful to you.
Secret #2: We can get trapped into thinking that our life purpose needs to be tied up in the work we do and how we earn an income. It can be but does not have to be.
Secret #3: Knowing what your purpose is will not magically create the job you always dreamed of, nor help you experience joy in your life.
Our life purpose is not something pre-ordained or given to us. You define and decide what is purposeful and meaningful to you. Then you create a life in alignment to that.
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our soul’s purpose is the level where we uncover who we truly are – our true self – align to that and express that in the world. This is where we begin to question:
- Who am I really?
- What is True for me?
- How shall I live?
Uncovering who we truly are – our true self – requires that we explore who we are beyond our thoughts, feelings, labels, ideas, and perceptions. We must explore deeper than the attributes of skills, talents, labels, titles, and passions to uncover that we are also part of the all, the universe consciousness, the infinite.
When we come to a place of acknowledgement and acceptance of who we are and have made a commitment on how we shall live, then we can live in alignment to our true self. And by doing so we are expressing our soul purpose into the world.
The expression of our soul’s purpose can take many forms. And as mentioned above, it does not have to be associated to income or work.
What makes the Soul’s Purpose different from the concept of a Life Purpose is that when we align to our soul’s purpose, all things in our life becomes easier and there is less struggle.
We are creating from a place in alignment to who we truly are which contributes to the ease, flow, and harmony we feel in our lives.
Most people explain their experience of living their soul’s purpose as a deeper knowing and feeling that what they are doing, how they are living is just right.
This makes sense because when we reach this point, we are expressing our true self in the world and living in alignment to our truth.
Universe Consciousness Purpose
When we explore purpose from the perspective of universe consciousness, we are uncovering and living in alignment to our true nature.
At this level of exploration, True Nature is seeking to express itself, to know and become aware of itself, to embody life in human form.
Our purpose, then, is to become aware of who we are. To explore our true nature and experience life.
Now, that may sound simple. But embracing this level of alignment to purpose in our everyday lives can be challenging.
When we come to a deeper realisation, knowledge, and acceptance of our true nature’s purpose to experience and know itself, we come to appreciate just how precious and unique each and every one of us is.
How we experience purpose will be different for all of us. The 3 Purposes are just a guide for you to explore in a different way what purpose means for you and how it shows up in your life.
Let’s delve a little deeper into how we experience purpose from our ego, from our true self, and from our true nature.
“If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.” ―Jack Canfield
Our Ego’s experience of Purpose
The journey to discovering purpose generally begins with understanding and exploring our self from the perspective of ego. Ego is always asking “what’s in it for me?” It attempts to understand itself and believes it needs a purpose to exist.
Therefore, our ego’s experience of purpose will likely contain the following questions and analysis:
- what do I get out of it?
- how will I be seen?
- who will I be?
- how will I create it, live it, be it?
Our ego places self-importance, identity, and a need to attain something first. You will know you are experiencing purpose from a place of ego when this occurs.
Our egos can tie us up in a constant quest for purpose from a place of logic and thinking. This process can lead us to feel restless, moving from one thing to the next in search of something.
Effectively it can keep us in “seeking mode,” always seeking to be, to become, to experience something else.
Are you trapped in endlessly trying to seek purpose?
To understand if you are seeking purpose from the perspective of ego, you will have thoughts, feelings, questions, and experiences like these:
- I am bored with life
- There is no meaning or purpose to my life or to anything
- You may feel lost, empty, listless, unmotivated
- My work needs to be my purpose
- You may feel that every day is the same, that you are living on autopilot
- When I find my purpose, then I will be happy
- You may feel no joy, no gratitude, no happiness
Without being aware of it, during your lifetime you have likely developed perceptions, ideas, and assumptions about what a life of purpose looks and feels like. Perhaps you have developed a set of criteria or a formula you believe to be true about living a life of purpose.
Because of these preconceived ideas we develop over time, we may then compare and measure “purpose” or the feelings purpose brings us against how our lives are progressing. This is an illusion of our ego, and an ego-centric way of experiencing purpose in our lives.
What we are truly doing here is simply measuring how satisfied we are with our lives based on some criteria we believe is important. When we realise we are not happy, then we can sometimes project this back onto “having no purpose” in life.
If you find yourself in an endless loop attempting to uncover your purpose or feeling stuck because your purpose is not clear to you, then it is likely your ego is hijacking your experience.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. — Lao Tzu
Experiencing Purpose From Our True Self
When we are experiencing purpose from our true self, the endless seeking stops. You no longer feel stuck and you receive greater clarity about how to express your purpose in the world.
No longer are you trying to “fit purpose into your life” or “fit your life into your purpose.” It just seamlessly integrates into your daily life without effort or struggle.
The reason for this is that once you have uncovered your true self and chosen to live in alignment to that, you come into integrity with yourself.
You are no longer suppressing parts of yourself or choosing to miss out on experiences. You’ve come to understand you are more than your thoughts, feelings, and experiences and have confidence that the life you are living is right for you.
Status, prestige, or needing to please others or follow societal concepts no longer affects you. You have chosen to live life in your way, in alignment to who you are.
Always remembering that who you are is not what the ego believes you to be, that you are consciousness, that everything is connected, and that you are part of the interconnected web of life.
You have started to experience life from this perspective of connectedness and have moved towards living a life that contributes to the all.
On your journey of uncovering who you are, it is likely you will uncover a deep knowing about what you are here to do and how you can be of service to others.
This is what I refer to as one’s soul purpose.
It will feel deeply and intrinsically right, there will be no doubts entertained, no questions about whether it’s real or imagined. You will just know that it is true for you.
Experiencing Purpose From Our True Nature
As we delve further into knowing ourselves, we may come to realise that our true nature (that who we truly are) is seeking to experience itself through our human form.
The difference between experiencing purpose from our true self versus from our true nature is that with our true self we are still associating our life, work, and service back to our deeper knowing of our soul’s purpose.
When we experience purpose from our true nature, there is no “what do I get out of it” or “what do I need to be doing” even considered. This is because you have come to realise that just being, just living your life, is exactly what your true nature is seeking.
To understand and experience itself, true nature must experience all the good, bad and ugly that we as humans experience. The difference here is that we are living our lives with the knowledge that we are consciousness experiencing life in human form.
As opposed to not being aware of this and just living life through the experience of our ego-centric nature.
Purpose, then, is experienced when you are living in harmony with life, in integrity with who you are, your true nature.
Are there really 3 types of Purpose?
The short answer is no.
What I have described is the way one can look at purpose from three different perspectives. The perspective of Ego, of True Self, and of True Nature. Think of the three perspectives as an evolution of your understanding of yourself. And therefore an evolution of how you experience purpose in your life.
Life Purpose Perspective
Generally, we will all start at the level of ego and apply purpose and meaning at the level of the function we play in society, our communities, and our families. We are seeking to make our lives meaningful, useful, and to feel satisfied in some way. Our life purpose is wrapped up in our identity of who we perceive ourselves to be.
Soul’s Purpose Perspective
When we go on an inner journey and start to seek to understand who we are and who we are not, we are starting to uncover our true self. Not many of us will take this journey and do the work to really understand who we are, what we want in life, and then choose how we want to live.
As we uncover our true self, we will experience purpose in a different way. That way is generally a feeling of harmony within oneself, that what we are doing in our life is exactly what we are meant to be doing.
It is a subtle shift in mindset and beliefs that encourages this feeling of alignment to your true self.
Universe Consciousness Perspective
As we delve deeper into our exploration of self, we may uncover our true nature and choose to experience life and our purpose from this perspective. The perspective of consciousness experiencing itself in human form.
Purpose, from this perspective, is all about experiencing and living life just as you are with the knowledge of who you are, which is consciousness seeking to experience itself.
Therefore, true nature is experiencing itself through you, as you. And by doing this, you are living in alignment to your true nature.
Do I need to Achieve all 3 Perspectives of Purpose?
This is not about achieving anything nor reaching a destination. That is an ego-driven pursuit.
Each of us will experience life in whatever form it takes for us.
Some will live perfectly happy lives having only ever aligned themselves to a life’s purpose – which essentially means creating in their life what is meaningful and important to them, then living in alignment to that. Adjusting and pivoting as they become dissatisfied and then creating more of what they want.
Others will be called on a journey and seek to understand themselves better or gain more clarity around who they truly are. They will feel driven to create a life more aligned to their true self. Remember that we are referencing true self as someone who becomes aware of their connection to the all.
A number of people will delve deeper and choose to experience life from the perspective of their true nature.
None of these perspectives is better than the other. They are just ways in which we can approach, understand, and live purpose in our lifetime.
You will know if you are called to experience purpose beyond the perspective of ego, but that does not make you more than or less than anyone else on their life’s journey.
As you become more aware of who you are, you may find yourself progressing naturally through the perspectives as an evolution of your own journey.
Life Purpose Examples
This example is from my journey of seeking purpose for myself.
At the beginning of my journey, I sought to understand purpose in all its forms. My journey was an external pursuit that was really about me trying to live a life I was happy with.
I felt as though I had no purpose. That life had no purpose and there had to be some kind of purpose because if there wasn’t, then what was life all about anyway?
Through my external pursuits I uncovered a lot about my identity, who I thought I was based on tests, and quizzes, and philosophies, and what other people had uncovered about themselves. I sought to find passion and meaning in the work I was doing, but failed each time because ultimately, I was pursuing the wrong thing.
I was dissatisfied with my life and I was trying to fit purpose – or the concept of purpose – into my current life situation and the work I was doing. This spurred me to go on a journey to try to find and do work that lit me up, urging myself to feel a fire within about anything – just anything! – in my life.
But I failed to spark any interest within me.
I felt lost, I couldn’t understand why some people just loved their life. Why couldn’t I be happy with mine? I had money, I had a house, the work itself wasn’t that bad – why was I not content?
It wasn’t until I started to pay attention to my body and my feelings that I realised how out of alignment to myself I was. How did this happen?
Well, I had started to feel unwell generally. the niggling things within my body I had ignored started to get louder and louder until I realised it and woke up. All the signs I had ignored for years were my true nature talking to me all that time and I hadn’t realised it.
It was telling me quite clearly the life I was living was not in alignment to my true self. It was not the life I truly wanted to live. But I just hadn’t woken up to that fact yet. I was too busy achieving and being successful and fulfilling the roles I thought were important to the industry I worked in.
I had become so focused on the companies, the industry, and the people I worked with that I had identified myself as part of them. So much so that I no longer truly existed.
What I mean by that is that every decision I made revolved around what was good for others – for the company I worked for – with little to no thought about what was good for me.
Yep, I became one of those statistics and burnt myself out.
When I woke up to this fact, my big decision was to take a time out and heal myself. This is when my journey of understanding my true self began.
I realised it wasn’t about some feeling I needed from my life, to do work that lit me up every day, or to explore and understand my passions.
What I was truly seeking was living in alignment to who I was. And I had never asked myself nor explored the idea of understanding myself and what I really wanted before. It was foreign to me, even to the point that I had to get over the idea that it was selfish to want something for myself.
A lot of us travel through life and never ask these questions of ourselves:
- Who am I really?
- What is true for me?
- How shall I live?
While I did not know it at the time, these were the exact questions I was uncovering in my life. I had a desire to understand myself completely. To know what was true for me and then choose how I wanted to live.
Now, the journey of uncovering these questions for myself is still underway. It never ends, as the more we understand, the deeper we can experience life. What is true for us pivots and changes, which ultimately changes the course of how we choose to live.
The day I uncovered my soul’s purpose was not a special day. There was no fanfare. I was not doing anything in particular to incite the feeling that came over me. I was just going about my daily life.
For me, my soul’s purpose arrived as a feeling of deep knowing. Like remembering something I had forgotten. In fact, that is exactly what it felt like to me. It was like a memory came to the surface of my consciousness and made itself known.
And when I realised what it was, I clearly remember these words left my lips “of course, that makes sense.”
Will you experience the same thing?
Maybe, maybe not.
Remember that if there is any struggle, thoughts, or doubts, then what you are experiencing is likely to be ego-centric.
The real thing always will come as a feeling. A peaceful, grounded feeling you just know is true without any analysis or reason or logic.
When my soul’s purpose was known to me, I started to align my life, work, and service to the world and could see how everything I was doing was essentially an expression of my soul’s purpose.
And our souls’ purpose can be expressed in many different ways and forms.
In my life, my soul’s purpose is expressed in the different types of work I do. For example:
- Coaching and mentoring
- Running a podcast
- Training and teaching
It also shows up in how I choose to live my life:
- Connection to the nature beings, the elements
- Ceremonies and meditations
- What I read, study, listen to, and watch
- Where I travel to
- What I eat, how I move my body
Now, the more I lived in alignment to my true self and expressed my soul’s purpose in the world, it was revealed to me there was still even more I needed to explore and experience in relation to purpose.
This is what lead me to my understanding about our true nature.
I came to the realisation that we need to experience life in all its ups and downs. And through our choices, decisions, and how we react or act is exactly what our True Nature requires to fulfil its purpose of experiencing itself.
It changed some beliefs about life, about myself, and about purpose that I didn’t realise I had formed along my journey. In a way, it also helped me feel at peace with life. Now I know I don’t have to ‘achieve’ all the time and that, in fact, I was being called to surrender.
Through surrendering all that we think we are, all that we believe to be true, we ultimately experience who we are here to be. All thoughts of purpose fade way and are no longer of importance. Attempting to understand who we truly are is no longer something we seek.
Not because we have the answers to the questions but because we are no longer bound by identifying ourselves or our experiences by the limitations of seeking purpose or understanding who we are.
We realise that we are much more than we could possibly understand and our existence is far more than we can grasp the concept of.
Steps To Finding Your Purpose
Through exploration, experimentation and most importantly through action.
The first step is to choose to undertake a journey within. To uncover who you truly are. It is through this work that you will uncover who you are and who you are not.
You will begin to shed that which no longer serves you and therefore create space for your expansion into who you truly are. Your True Self.
Through this exploration of who you are, you will come to your own truth, what is true for you in your life, and the world around you. This is where you may uncover and explore your True Nature.
Once you have this awareness of who you are and what is true for you, you can then choose how you shall live.
Through taking action and – most importantly – by committing to a way of living that aligns to your true nature, you are ultimately expressing and living your purpose in the world.
The truth is that you already are what you are seeking. — Adyashanti
If you are interested in furthering your exploration into purpose, uncovering your true self and living in alignment to your true nature, then I invite you to check out the 4 Stages of Self Discovery teaching.