3 Specific Ways We Can Live More Purposeful Lives
Is this the plan for my life? Am I meant for something more/else? What is my purpose? If you’re like me, you've asked yourself these questions at least once in your life (and during some seasons maybe even weekly). Countless books, blogs, podcasts, etc. have covered the topic of “finding your purpose.” I won’t claim that what I’m about to share is groundbreaking or that I have the answer to one of the most asked questions in life. All I can do is share where I’m at with this, and hope it helps others in some way.
When most people think of their “purpose” they associate it with their job. I’ll admit, I got caught up in that idea for a long time. While what we choose to do can be a piece of our purpose, I don't believe our work or finding the perfect job is the the only way to live a purposeful life. It's important I state that up front.
I do believe we are all molded for something different. We are all given specific gifts and a heart for something, and we all play a role in society. I have several roles. I'm a civil engineer, photographer, blogger, wife, and dog mom. As life goes on those roles will shift. Some may disappear and some may get added. But if we put all of our life's purpose into the roles we play, what happens when we retire/lose/leave our job or our roles change?
A couple of years ago I read the book “The Purpose Driven Life”. I went through several highlighters while reading that book and took lots of notes (that I still reference often). The way I live life and the way I view my purpose in this world shifted after reading the lessons in that book. Below I've identified three ways we can live more purposeful lives beyond the roles we play (many more detailed out in the book).
Make Time For Relationships
People always say when you’re on your deathbed you won’t care about the job you had or the money you made, you’ll care about the relationships you built and the love you shared. This sounds so basic, but life happens and it’s easy to let weeks, even months, go by where we aren’t spending quality time with friends and loved ones. Making time for people isn’t just about the frequency, but about the quality of the time when it happens. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to make sure I’m listening just as much as I’m contributing and asking questions along the way in order to foster relationships based on love, honesty, trust, and respect.
Busyness is a great enemy of relationships. We become preoccupied with making a living, doing our work, paying bills, and accomplishing goals as if these tasks are the point of life. They are not. The point of life is learning to love.
I used to be a hoarder of both my money and my time. Only in the last couple of years have I started to loosen the grip on both of these things to make myself available to causes bigger than myself. What I’ve realized is that giving back doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. There are plenty of ways to be of service to others that fits within any time or resource constraint. As I mentioned earlier in this post, we all have a heart for something, and I think that is true for serving as well. When we really care about something, then we give our time or money willingly and joyfully.
You were put on earth to make a contribution. You weren’t created just to consume resources - to eat, breathe, and take up space… You were created to add to life on earth, not just take from it.
Share Your Story
The more we share our real story, the more we’re able to squash the myth that everyone has it “all together.” Many times our story is wrapped up in pain or sadness, so we only want to share the fun and easy parts. Sometimes I think the things we try to hold back about ourselves are the exact things that need to be talked about. When we pull back, we cut off the possibility for connection, growth, and even healing. You never know who might need to hear your story to feel less alone in this world or who might be able to give you what you need in return. This is something I have to continually work on, both in person and on this blog. I’m learning though, as I talk through it, I end up working through it. I can only hope that it helps someone else to hear about where I’m at as well.
Your greatest life message will come out of your deepest hurts. The things you’re most embarrassed about, most ashamed of, and most reluctant to share are the very tools God can use most powerfully to heal others.
Our drive to find purpose in life and to search for answers is deeply rooted in us. There will always be a part of us that wants more. Knowing that there's no way we can be completely fulfilled on this side of eternity can be both frustrating and reassuring. What helps me is understanding that the longing has been put there for a reason. We're supposed to suffer through it in a way that will hopefully help develop our character. And by continuing to search for purpose in our own lives we will inevitably live out God's purpose.