We Have A Purpose

There is something inside you that craves fulfillment-inside all of us. Most of us were not taught nor encouraged to pursue a career that was meaningful to us. When the time came, we were most often pushed to pick something that would earn a good income, that we could stand. Emphasis being put on the “earn a good income” part.

For guys, the pressure in that area might have even been a little steeper. We grew up in a culture that taught us that, on the whole, girls expect a guy who earns a good living, can pay for things. I know growing up in the south that was certainly my experience, and living in southern California now I can say it’s not much different out here. This is just a social role that’s been part of the fabric of our society for a long time now, though it is showing signs of subsiding a bit.

Some of us picked careers based on the “acceptable answer to the question” rule. When asked, as we so often are in this culture, “what do you do?” many of us felt compelled (by pure ego) to choose something that would proive a kick ass answer to that question. My dad did just such a thing and chose “helicopter pilot”. Some who were motivated by having such a socially acceptable/impressive answer chose lawyer, doctor, therapist, CEO, CFO, President, Vice President, etc.

Point being, we often picked careers, or kind of fell into them, based on choices that really didn’t have much to do with what was really meaningful to us, but more often based on external factors such as familial, societal, and ego related pressures.

Most Unhappy With Careers- Feel Unfulfilled

The result is a nation full of people who are largely unhappy with their careers, and which contributes to neurosis and crisis galore. We try pills, we try marriage, having kids, taking on side lovers, drinking and using drugs, and all manner of other distraction to try and find a way to deal with the monotony and lack of fulfillment in our lives. And for many of us, this true even despite being moderately to very successful in our respective jobs. We obtained those letters out next to our name, “PHD, MFA, MA, Lic..”.

We got that prestige we thought would make us fulfilled, and it didn’t work. “This is it?” many have thought. Others didn’t have to take it that far. They went far enough along the journey to see what was coming, or not coming; fulfillment, happiness. It was a dead end road.

For most, the fear of changing careers keeps them in place, blotting out their existence as best they can, trying to find fulfillment in creating a family, or buying stuff: cars, clothes, jewelry, trips; or by anesthetizing themselves with drinking, sex, prescription pills, and other drugs, but it only masks the problem. Meanwhile, the problem grows, and eventually the distractions hang around long enough to grow barnacles and become problems of their own.
The lucky ones hit a bottom. A divorce, they get fired, a health problem, financial ruin, a DUI, an intervention into treatment, …something shakes loose, and the house of cards comes falling down. These are the lucky ones, strange as that may sound.

The pain awakens them to a new reality. They get back to square one, the one before they chose their career and all that came since, and they start to ask the big questions, “Who am I? Why am I here? What is the point of it all?” And the very lucky ones, actually do something with the answers they find.
The rest stop looking, or upon finding the answers say “oh no, not that, that’s far too risky” and they run back to the old familiar, and we all know how that ends up. Just take a trip to your nearest old folks home and ask a few of the more unhappy ones what their biggest regrets are and you’ll see what I mean. They wish they’d taken more risks. They wish they’d said “I love you” more. They wish they’d left something behind of enduring value, real contribution…

RECESSION And Finding Purpose

As I write this, the economy has taken a sharp hit. Unemployment is way up. The government says we are in a recession. The media treats it as much more. As a result, everyone has bought in. People have stopped spending. Businesses are closing left and right, even big ones. And to me, its one of the best things that could have happened for millions of people (myself included), a true blessing in disguise. If you listen closely, you can hear the faint “clank” of golden handcuffs hitting the streets in your neighborhood, in every neighborhood. People are hitting the wall. The gig is up. The bottom is here. And you may be one of them. I was myself..
But behind the scenes, the story you won’t hear on nightly news tonight, is what is happening, subtly, for many. It’s a liberation. The unemployment is creating a space, creating a new vantage point.

Millions of people, for the first time in their lives, are living life in an invigorating new way. They are seeing their kids off to school. They are having lunch with a friend. They are enjoying some quiet time alone, just being. There is a new space in their life. It’s their first taste of freedom. And though there is a fear in the background that keeps them from being able to fully enjoy it, they can’t deny, on a very real level, they are enjoying the freedom.
They realize for the first time how much they really hated their work, and they wish that there was some way they could figure out how to just be self employed, and do something they really like to do. But how? But what? Maybe you are one of those people, meandering your way across the web in search of answers to questions like “what is my purpose?” or “courage to change careers” or any number of related searches that might have brought you to this moment.

Speaking of Google, many people will jump on Google and try to find something on “making money on the internet”, or maybe real estate investing, or they see an infomercial on making millions on Ebay, or they go to a seminar for a multi-level marketing thing. And maybe they see some good stuff, maybe some stuff they think they could do. Some will even spend some money ordering products, but the fear gets the better of them. The products sit on the shelf. “Bah, who am I kidding”, they say to themselves.
Others will consider going back to school, go in a new direction they think they might enjoy more. But the tell themselves, “bah, I’m too old to start anew in college”. “I’d be ____ years old by the time I got out. And how would I pay for it? I’m already in debt up to my ears, I can’t afford to take on a bunch of financial aid”.

They feel trapped. They don’t want to go back to an unfulfilling job they dislike, in an environment they dislike, with people they dislike. But yet, they are too afraid to strike out in any new direction. Many suffer from analysis paralysis, coming up with several ideas but being unable to move on one. They stay stuck.

If they could just figure out the RIGHT choice, they think to themselves, then they would be able to move on one. They seek clarity and direction. They feel lost. And without some help, many will start the cycle over. Except now, taking a job that perhaps pays even less than the one before. Same unfulfillment, new low price.

My Experience And “The Big Question"

As I went through this process myself, it was extremely frustrating. I spent many nights with eyeballs on the ceiling. I started reading books about “finding your purpose”. Old books, new books, religious and secular.
The place I got to with all of it was a primary question. It was “what is your unique contribution?” Through all my reading, writing, and sleepless nights of self discovery it became clear to me that in order to live a truly fulfilled life, I had something inside me, some set of skills, gifts, and talents that lend themselves to a unique ability to do…something. But what was it?

The answer was elusive for me. I recognized I was good at a lot of things. I liked to speak in groups, I liked to write, I liked business, I was good with words, I was good at marketing, and I hated too much math. “Teacher” “Lawyer” “Advertising” “Actor” “Sales” “Marketing Director” “Brand Manager” “Psychotherapist” “Book Writer” “Screen Writer” “TV Writer” “TV Show Host” “Documentary maker”… the list goes on…

BAFFLED. Confused. Constricted. Frozen. Non of them quite seem to fit. What the hell was I supposed to do!!?? I prayed, I meditated, I took long walks in the woods, I drank, I exercised, I read books, I journaled. Still nothing. I was like a broken record. And broken is exactly how I felt.
I was praying sincerely that God might reveal to me his perfect will. Why was my prayer not being answered? Must I meet with complete desolation before the answer would become clear? Would it even become clear then? I was panicked. I was full of fear. And this just created a negative feedback loop. I had to break the cycle, break free from this madness. I decided it was time for a change. What I knew for sure was that I was not happy living in the town I was in anymore.

I sought to reinvent myself, but too many people had a certain label on me. They expected me to be what I had always been. Ultimately (after months of toiling), I felt led to leave in order to create the space necessary to allow the new to come forth.

And I had long been desiring a larger city, as I was young and tired of the small city life, and wanted a place with more opportunities where I felt I could explore and grow into a larger potential. A long story short, after a lot of deliberation (probably more than was necessary, but I had to work through the fear) I moved to LA.

I got back to the original question, “what is my unique contribution?”. I believe we all have a unique contribution to make here, and that wants to be made. I believe that God, the Universal All, Source, Consciousness, Higher Power, or whatever you choose to call it, I believe it exists and it desires to find its expression through us, in our own unique and individual ways.

After giving myself this space to explore and really ask that question, “what is my unique contribution?”, I got to the answer. I believe my contribution is to use my unique set of skills, gifts, and interests to create inspiring, educational communications that help people awaken to their ability to create lives they love to live, and which give them practical help with doing so. I now work diligently, and joyfully, in allowing that contribution to come through me.

Now there is a lot that goes into that. I have had to do a lot of work to condition my mind to transform fear to faith, and this requires moment to moment management of my thoughts, which has taken some time to learn and implement, and which I continue to work on daily. I had to become the architect of my thought life, pruning out fear and negativity, creating a space of no thought, just presence, and learning how to then implant the empowering thoughts necessary to bring about the life I want. This is the nuts and bolts of how to go from fear to faith and something I will expound on more soon, so bookmark this page and get on my email list to get that when it comes out. Until then, be well.

Chris Connell

Author's Bio: 

Chris Connell is a teacher. He teaches people how to get a better perspective on their life, find their unique contribution, and create an inspiring, fulfilled life they feel they were meant to live. Chris uses multiple media to disseminate his teaching including workshops, audios, videos, and his blog site at www.followmypurpose.com. Looking to get help finding your purpose or the courage to pursue it? You can email him directly at chrisc@followmypurpose.com