There are a lot of misconceptions that exist about what it means to find and live your life on purpose. I pick up on these from time to time in conversations with students, team members, business owners, and even political leaders. For what I believe to be a surprisingly straight forward subject, the responses I hear are remarkable.
I’ve heard things such as:
· If I am going to live life with purpose, then that’s going to limit my earning potential.
· Most people don’t live life on purpose, and I don’t want to unnecessarily stand out and draw attention to myself.
· The ability to live life on purpose is only for the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world. The rest of us just have to accept the grind that is life and make the most of it.
· Purpose and passion are nice concepts but probably are more for artists and writers than business owners, entrepreneurs, and investment bankers.
· There is no way to be certain about our purpose in life, and I don’t want to spend my life only to find out I got it all wrong.
LIVING ON PURPOSE IS THE ONLY WAY TO FULLY ACTIVATE YOUR POTENTIAL.
These are all real statements from real people. None of these people are bad. I'm not passing moral judgment on them. But it saddens my heart to think that this thinking persists in the minds of smart and successful people.
The truth is most people believe if you want to live life on purpose, then you must give up the life you have today. It’s as if purpose invites some magical reality to take hold and physically, mentally, and emotionally transform you into something you’re not.
I’d like to suggest there are five myths that need to be busted to open our minds and hearts to the idea of what it means for you and me to live life on purpose. If these myths can be pushed aside, I believe it will give you enough space to recognize that purpose isn’t something to fear but to be embraced.
HERE ARE THE FIVE MYTHS THAT NEED TO BE BUSTED ABOUT LIVING LIFE ON PURPOSE:
Myth #1: If I choose to live life on purpose, I need to accept limitations in opportunities, earning potential, and influence.
The most successful people in the world understand that aligning what excites you with what you are most gifted at is when you release latent potential to discover and solve big problems. This is what leads to feelings of meaning and significance. You can experience this whether you wash cars for a living or lead a multi-national company. Purpose isn’t confined or limited by a particular role, job, title, or professional path.
Myth #2: I need to intentionally find ways to stand out, be different, and draw attention to myself to live life on purpose.
In a culture some use to obsessively—and even compulsively—try to convince others just how satisfied they are in life, I can see how this can be confused with purpose. A tweet, Instagram story, or Facebook post, it not living life on purpose. It may be a way you share about your life with others, but it is not an end itself.
However, when you choose to live on purpose, you will stand out. But it will likely be subtle. People will pick up on how you carry yourself, talk about your work, and the energy you bring to the table. You’ll stand out for all the right reasons.
Myth #3: Living on purpose is for people who are already rich and successful rather than for the rest of us.
You don’t become successful and then live your purpose. You live your purpose which leads you to success. Of course, the more power, money, and influence you have, the greater your ability to bring out change in the world. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make meaningful changes right where you are, with what you have, and doing what you’re doing today.
Myth #4: Only religious types and artists get to live life on purpose.
There isn’t a special type of person in the world who gets to live their purpose while the rest of us just settle for a consolation prize. It’s true some personalities are naturally more comfortable talking about their feelings, see the world differently, and are more conscious of what motivates them than others. But that doesn’t give them exclusive rights to live life on purpose.
Myth #5: There is no way to be certain about my purpose, so I don't want to waste my life thinking one thing only to find out later that it was something else.
If you followed this to the logical end, you wouldn’t ride a bike because you might fall off, you wouldn’t ask someone out on a date because they might say no, and you wouldn’t go to college because you might fail a test. Nonsense! You discover how to ride a bike by riding, you find your spouse by dating them, and you learn the most when you don’t get it right.
The pursuit of your purpose is the point. Your understanding of your purpose will evolve over time because it can only be worked out in real time. What’s most important is you didn’t just drift along. Your purpose will find you as much as you will find your purpose. Just don’t accept life as some fatalistic or arbitrary rat race. It is so much more!
The greatest obstacle to living life on purpose is your ability to open your mind and start thinking differently. Don’t let your thinking limit the role purpose can play in giving you contextual clues about how you can make the biggest difference in the world right where you are today.
CHALLENGE: Write down your beliefs about living life on purpose. Reflect on if you believe you are living life on purpose today. Determine what needs to change in your thinking to open yourself to experience what it means to have and live from a place of purpose and significance. Then, commit to making those changes, so you can start living life on purpose today!