This is an excerpt of a blog post I wrote in 2013:
The following are just a few of many components of finding, cultivating, and living into your purpose. The discovery process always work best with whole-brain engagement, playfulness, body-centered practices, reflection, and other juicy stuff which I have written about a lot, but is not the focus on this post. This is a much larger - and longer - process than a blog post can begin to cover.
4 Reflection Points:
1. Discovering your aliveness. What gives you juice, energy, engagement and meaning. Aliveness has many expressions: What's fun for you? What energize you? What do you like to play at? Tinker with? Explore? What engages your heart? Your mind? Your body? Your soul? What do you do because it's "so you"? How do you shine (or want to shine)? What captivates your whole self, not because it is interesting or cool to others, but because it is compelling to YOU? What triggers your curiosity? What did you love doing, being, feeling at any point of your life or now? What did you love doing, being, feeling at any point of your life or now? What does "Alive" feel like for you? How do you get that experience?
Included in purposeful aliveness is meaning. What is meaningful for you? What moves you? What stirs you? What inspires you? What challenges in the world call to you? How do you like to contribute? What is a vision you have for a better world? What roles would you like to play? (no need to limit to just one...old paradogm was being boxed into one role - in the emerging paradigm, you can play many roles). What are the needs you see out there that speak most loudly to you? How could the world use your help? Who are you most drawn to work with? For? How could that look? Dont limit it to existing channels or structures...play with creating your own. :-)
This is an ongoing process, not an event. It is not about sitting down one time and listing it all just once. It is a deeper day-to-day reflection, and it changes over time. Start with where you are and what you know...and see what emerges as you engage it on and ingoing basis.
2. Cultivating your aliveness and embodying it over time. There are so many way to embody it, more than we can imagine. One aspect of living into it includes being conscious of to what you say YES to and to what you say NO. Once you start engaging your aliveness, and extracting meaning in it, you further cultivate your purpose by saying YES and stepping up to ALL of that which it requires...and, as significantly, saying NO to - and NOT doing - everything that is no longer serving it. With every healthy, live-giving YES, there come a series of healthy NOs.
Sometime the NOs are is the hardest part - to people, events, ideas, and most often, old habits and ways of being. Committing can take a moment...but living into it, embodying it, and choosing from it moment, by moment, day by day is an ongoing process. It requires presence, consciousness, self awareness and breaking old patterns...and cultivating new ones.
Sometimes it means embarking on trainings or events that have no seeming direct relationship to your work (even though they eventually inform it). For example, I spent 5 years is a psycho-physical healing, movement and bodywork training, CoreSomatics, and became a Master Practitioner. I took it becuase I was deelpy curious about the wisdom of the body after a bodywork experience I had, and the training had a lot of energy for me - not knowing if or how I would even apply it. I don't have a hands-on healing practice, but what I learned about the somatic intelligence in that training - and the ways I related it to creative process - deeply informed my work and the design of all of my public and corporate workshops. I bring movement and the body into everything I do, even when not a body-centered program.
3. Creating from it. Purpose always aligns self, others and the whole. I have worked with hundreds of passionate entrepreneurs who have created their own work in the world...and without exception, when each connected with his or her purpose and sense of "calling", it was always generative, aligned with serving some greater good. Serving something larger than just ourselves is NATURALLY embedded in our purpose...in some way or other - often requiring us to expand our mental framework to see that. Sharing something alive in ourselves seems to be an inherent part of purpose.
People who create their own path centered around their purpose discover it already has service built in. It many, sometimes, require us to expand our belief systems of what service means, and how it looks, not limited to conventional ideas about who serves and contributes. It is not just about carrying what you know in service, but also creating something that serves something larger than just you - and it does include you. (It is not about sacrficing who you are in service of others - that's not generative for the whole. It is about structuring your aliveness into an accessible purpose.
It can be anything - a service, product, a new idea, a framework, a computer program, a business, a work of art, a way of doing something, a design, a blog post... anything that is uniquely yours. There is a sense of inner empowerment that comes from accessing your “creative source” and creating from it, no matter how you do it. EVERYONE is creative and everyone can access it.
4. Claiming your Inner Authority. Noticing patterns you have discovered as a result of "working it" gives you inner authority and ownership that's not dependent on what others think. When we leave our socialized beliefs and enter the juicy, messy territory of our inner resourcefulness, it can be scary. It can be challenging to discover our true voice, the one that contains our creatively unique purpose and expression, and weed out all of the other voices with which we've been socialized.
There is no short cut to this. It requires going under layers of accepted assumptions, and creating time to listen to a voice inside of us we may not even know is there. Sometimes that voice is loud and we get a clear vision or "aha" moment where we know what we want to do and how, but often that voice starts out softly, and we have to nurture it out. But it is always in there...waiting for us to engage with it.
Once we learn how to hear it, we become aware it's always communicating. Once we have engaged our work for a while, we pay more attention, we can begin to notice patterns, honor our own observances, see larger patterns at work that connect to our work, and formulate "wisdom" form integrating knowledge, experience, creativity and intuition in our unique ways. That is when we are less dependent on others for evaluation, and become more centered in our own inner authority. We can hear information from the inside out, and discern what resonates and what does not. We question everything. We run things through our OWN "resonance meter" to see how it feels. Does this feel right? Does it feel like it is mine to do? It can take time to hear the subtleties of the language of our “creative source” but once we learn its language, we begin to trust our inner voice.
There is a type of freedom that comes with engaging your own inner authority and crafting your path...and it's not always easy. In fact, it usually comes with messiness, seeming setbacks, resistances, fears and doubts....your own, and sometimes others around you. Cultivating your creatively unique purposeful work often brings up the "shadow" as well as the light. But being with it all, as it emerges, and making generative choices along the way is that’s how that life-giving voice inside of us gets stronger.
Mistakes within purpose are simply iterations in the emergence process. There is no way around making mistakes, probably lots of them...and purpose allows you to learn from them, to use them. They become awareness lessons, they strengthen knowledge and resolve, and they become innovations to create something new and different.
These are just a few reflections around purpose as they came to me to share today, based on my own experiences and from coaching others who are engaging their purposeful work. Not everything may resonate with you. You may even might disagree with some of it. My hope is not to persuade you on an idea, but simply offer some food for thought or inspiration. As with everything, take what resonates and leave the rest. :-)
Michelle James ©2013