Knowing What Purpose Is, And How You Can Develop It In Your Life

Most people have felt at one point or another that they aren’t sure what they want. Maybe they’ve done all the things they’ve strived for and still feel empty. If this is persistent, you may be lacking purpose. 

When you think about it, do you know what having purpose in your life really means? 

When we hear people talk about having purpose, we hear a lot of things that could be a part of purpose, but aren’t truly what it is at its core; at least in our opinion. Let us explain what purpose isn’t, and then what having a purpose-driven life can really mean when approached correctly. 

Passion versus Purpose

Passion, by definition, is something that elicits a powerful feeling, such as love, hate or anger. Most of us have something we’re passionate about. It can be anything from marathon training or art, to collecting antiques or fixing up cars. Even a career. 

While it’s possible for a passion to become a purpose or a piece of your life’s purpose, it isn’t necessarily your whole purpose in life. Just as passions can develop over time, it’s possible for a passion to evolve into your life’s purpose, but that’s a lot of pressure on a mere hobby. 

Responsibility versus Purpose

It’s easy to confuse responsibility with a life’s purpose. There are a lot of responsibilities that involve a lot of love and duty in performing them. It’s important to fulfill our responsibilities with honor. A common example of this is motherhood. As a parent, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that, and it can be very fulfilling. However, if your role as a mother is the only way you can feel that your life has meaning, that can be pretty hollow at times. 

When your life is filled with a lot of responsibilities, that can often include other people—whether it’s children, caretaking for a family member, etc.—and your life’s purpose can’t be centered around “fixing” other people. That can be especially true when you have children with disabilities, someone with an addiction, and so on. That desire can be strong and can be a big part of your life’s purpose, but it can easily be dependent on a positive outcome, which isn’t guaranteed.  

Responsibilities, however good, are requirements. And your life’s purpose can’t totally come from outside obligations. When the only things that are getting you out of bed in the morning and driving you are things you’re responsible for, that can quickly become depressing. And if those obligations go away—your kids grow up and move away, for example—it can leave you lost. 

True purpose in life

Having real, lasting purpose in your life brings feelings of fulfillment, joy and knowing that your life matters, not just in big ways, but in the day-to-day moments. 

When your life decisions are made from a place of joy and not out of guilt or fear, then you’re doing it right. 

Purpose is about YOU. Not anyone else. We often put ourselves into others—our children, our jobs, our family or friends, church obligations or other community responsibilities. And those things are all wonderful, but you need to have other things that are just for you that bring you joy. 

If you need help putting yourself back into the equation of your life, see if Transform Through Therapy’s online groups might be a good fit for you. 

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