During some of the darker days of my experience of depression, I’d spend hours ruminating the question….‘What is my purpose?’.
At that time, the enquiry went far deeper than what I should be doing for work. although that was a bother too. It was a challenge to the core of my being, about my existence, who I am as a person, what I’m doing here and what I’m meant to bring to the world? Deep, deep shit.
I tell you what, when you’re suffering from depression induced brain fog, lingering over these types of questions (to which you have very little hope of finding any viable answer) feels like you’re taking yourself pretty close to some kind of spontaneous internal combustion. Not entirely helpful.
However, when considered in the brighter light of mentally healthier days, and when confined to more constructive and less abstract/existential boundaries – the consideration of purpose can become both grounding and inspiring. A great combination in the right proportions.
Dictionary definition of purpose:
- the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used etc
- an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
Go after the existential stuff if you will (and your brain can handle it) but, for this month’s theme, I’d like to stick to the more down to earth side of things (although read to the end of this post if you want to hear why I think I exist!).
In my mind, our purpose can be translated into something quite practical, actionable and yet very personal. I see it as being a collection of all of the things that we’re good at, that we value, that hold interest for us – all packaged up neatly and tied with a bow. Your package of purpose should be treated with great care, held close to you and unwrapped for examination on a regular basis so you can be reminded of it’s importance.
Your purpose is the guide rail or compass that can be used to directionally navigate the way through your very own complicated life.
My ‘happiness’ equation
In a slightly mental moment in January 2012, I knew I needed to reconnect to my internal compass and ended up writing myself a little equation – at the time, I referred to it as my ‘happiness equation’ – which was to include some things I felt I needed as a priority in my life and then what I needed to change in order to move in the right direction.
This is what came out:
- I wanted to have a family – which ultimately resulted in getting my eggs frozen
- I wanted to find fulfilment at work but without the attachment to a big salary – which influenced the decision to buy the house I’m in now and a (slow) journey towards The Mental Movement
- I wanted to have a dog – which in some way represented ‘freedom’ for me and was linked to the job situation and the house decision
Reading this back now, it seems a bit twee, but I know for sure that doing that exercise gave me a huge sense of clarity, purpose and motivation at a time when I hadn’t been feeling any of those things. And it prompted a series of significant decisions which can pretty much be traced to where I am in my life right now – sat writing this blog for my very own business, in my lovely little home with my furry friend by my side (he’s happier than he looks) and knowing that ‘Mum’s gone to Iceland’ (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).
As you can tell, purpose is a subject very close to my heart, but one which I know can feel very scary and overwhelming at times.
So, this month’s theme of ‘Finding & following your purpose’ is intended to help you tune in to your internal compass, develop your own precious package of purpose and then use it as a guide and as motivational fuel for wherever you need to go next.
And, just so you know, somewhere along the way I came up with an answer to the BIG question which really works for me…….why am I here????
To see what happens next.