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I love reading self-help books and tons of them talk about how you need to “live your purpose” and “go after your dreams”. For a long time, especially when I was struggling with depression and anxiety, I had no idea what the eff my purpose was. I desperately wanted to be serving some kind of higher purpose or to have a large project to work dedicate myself to (spoiler alert-it eventually became this blog you are reading!) but I felt directionless and I wasn’t sure what I had to offer. Here are a few things I did to start feeling better and living with purpose.
It Might Not Make Money
People love to romanticize making money by living with purpose but the truth is you might not ever make a dime. You could decide your purpose is being a kick-ass Mom or helping kids in your community. Those are both worthy goals but you might not ever make a dime from them. Being able to make a living doing something you love is awesome and I’m not knocking that. I’m just saying if you don’t know what your purpose is to take money out of the equation and see what you come up with. A lot of people who now make money doing what they love didn’t start out that way. Many people spend years doing what they love before they ever make a single dime. Making money is a perfectly noble goal and I’m not advocating for you to struggle financially. If your purpose isn’t going to make you money you will still need to figure out a way to support yourself. However, trying to figure out a purpose that will also be profitable takes a lot of things off the table. What would you be proud to achieve if you never got paid for it?
It’s Not Always Obvious
Some people are lucky enough to always know what their passions are in life and they seem to just know what their purpose is. I’m not sure I would have ever started living with purpose if I hadn’t just decided that advocating for mental health was my purpose and my passion. If you want to have a purpose in life you don’t have to wait for a calling or a sign, just pick something that inspires you and makes you feel good and decide that is your purpose. You can pick your purpose anytime you want. Give yourself a deadline and decide this week or this month you are going to pick your purpose. Spend time reading about people who inspire you and write in your journal about what contributions would make you feel damn good to give. When your deadline is up, pick what your purpose is going to be. Once you’ve decided what your purpose is brainstorm some ways you can start living it every day. Think of both small easy things you can do every day and big scary things you have no idea how to complete.
It Might Seem Crazy
It’s trendy right now to talk about breaking your dreams down into “smart achievable goals”. I get how big dreams can be overwhelming and shut people down and how it can be useful to have a plan. Whenever I feel like I have too much stuff to do I write a few goals for the day in my journal to help me stay focused. However, I don’t think enough people are talking about the need to dream really freaking big. There’s value in setting really huge goals that you have no idea how to achieve. It opens you up to possibilities in your life and starts to train your brain to believe things aren’t off limit for you. What would your purpose be if you weren’t scared to play big? If you could leave any impact on the world what would it be? I’m talking end childhood poverty kind of big. What kind of big scary impact do you feel called to make in the world?
Most of us have different purposes at different times in our life. We might be driven by seeing the world or providing for our family at different times in our life. As your perspective and focus shift your purpose might change too and that’s totally fine. People romanticize the idea of finding their “life’s work” but picking a purpose for your entire life can be overwhelming and it can prevent you from ever doing anything. The purpose you pick now might shift a little bit over time or it could become something completely different. Don’t worry about the future. If you feel moved to do something do it. Don’t waste time hesitating and thinking it over. If it doesn’t work you can always try something else, you’re not bound to it for life. You will learn tons more by picking a purpose that change than never getting started at all. Pick something that makes you feel good right now and don’t worry if it might be something you grow out of.
Dedicating myself to a purpose has really helped me manage my depression and anxiety. When I finally set some big scary goals for myself I began to feel inspired for the first time in a long time. I took action that terrified me, like launching this blog and telling my story publicly. Now I have the purpose that I’ve always wanted in life but it didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy. However, it’s brought so much happiness to my life and I’ve learned a ton. I hope some of these ideas will help you start living with purpose. If you’re looking for more information about mental health I would love it if you check out my other posts about anxiety and depression.
I am not a licensed therapist. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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