Purpose — not something you find

Photo by Joanna Ellicott

Purpose in times of transition

In these times of transition and uncertainty so much is written about purpose — how we can live more purposefully and let it guide our actions / decisions / projects / work / life? In a sense we seem to see purpose as a practical and moral compass to guide us, help us make better decisions or at least stop us making bad ones.

Purpose untamed

What if purpose was instead something much more alive, a wild untamed presence in us? An irrepressible force that shows up in multiple ways in the unfolding of our lives.

Your purpose as a thread

If we take the time to notice purpose in this deeper way we can track it back further into our life and we’ll see its influence as a regular if not constant presence. Sure, it’ll show up in different ways at different times but it’s from the same root, a combination of our unique gifts and wounds that somehow constellate into who we are right here, right now.

Here are some ways I try to keep hold of my thread

1. Pay attention

When reconnecting back to purpose I always try and start from a place of gratitude. It is a radical act, it subverts everything. It is also a generative concept, it breaks the negative feedback loop that feeds off our endless pursuit of happiness that lives outside of us.

2. Create Space

In these super-charged times the concept of space feels like a luxury but it seems that our ability to cultivate time for listening might be a superpower in times like these.

3. Allow yourself to be surprised

I love the idea of purpose as an unfolding sense of self. A self with many flavours but the same source. If I had a tattoo it would be of this short but beautiful piece by the late Irish poet/philosopher John O’Donohue.

This doesn’t mean purpose statements are dead

All of this means that you shouldn’t stop trying to articulate ‘your why’ but rather that you should see it as part of the process rather than the end point in the journey. It is always going to be a ‘point in time’ articulation of the thread as it shows up at the time. See it as something not written in a tablet of stone but rather in the flow of where you are at. Trade off the crafting of the perfect statement with a commitment to doing the work, creating the space and paying attention. Feeling your purpose and living it in the actions you take on an everyday level is where the magic happens.

Mark Sears

I work with pioneering organisations and changemakers to support the emergence of wilder thinking to catalyse change — inspired by nature. You can read more and sign up to an irregular newsletter on marksears.co.uk

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Mark Sears

Mark Sears

Human Rewilding for organisations, communities and individuals.