“It’s not an accident that musicians become musicians and engineers become engineers: it’s what they’re born to do. If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.”
– Jack Canfield
Many of us use the beginning of a new year to think about how our lives are going. What have we accomplished? How do we feel about that? What would we like to see change or improve? We sit down to set goals, make our plans and chart a course for the year.
But the truth is, that none of it matters much if you haven’t discovered your purpose. In fact, all that goal setting and planning is fruitless without knowing what you’re really all about. You simply won’t get the happiness and fulfillment you seek without purpose.
When I mention the importance of living “on purpose,” students often complain that they don’t know what their purpose is and they don’t know how to find it. Growing up, we might find out what we’re good at, our talents and strengths. But our purpose? It’s just not part of the normal curriculum.
But in ancient Hawaii (and in other ancient cultures), certain kahuna (masters) were skilled in perceiving a child’s purpose. Back then, people believed that your purpose was always inside you. Purpose wasn’t something that special people had and others didn’t have. And it wasn’t something that you had to struggle to find. It simply needed to be discovered or revealed.
Children were taken to these kahuna at an early age so parents knew how to raise each child according to his or her true purpose. They didn’t use test scores or aptitude assessments. The kahuna simply sensed a child’s true nature, how he or she could best serve the world, and what path would bring that child the most satisfaction in life.
After a child’s true purpose was identified, the children studied with kumus (teachers) to learn whatever skills and knowledge they’d need to fulfill their purpose. It didn’t matter whether that purpose was to become a healer, a fisherman or a dancer, each child was given training and tools to become the best they could.
But that was then and this is now.
We don’t have kahuna running around to divine our purpose for us. Fortunately, you can use a simple process to help you discover it on your own:
- First you need to eliminate any negative emotion or limiting beliefs. The baggage that you carry around—grudges, hurts, low self-esteem, etc.—will keep your purpose hidden. If you haven’t made this a priority in your life, I strongly urge you to do so. One of the best ways to clear out negative emotions and limiting beliefs is via the Mental Emotional Release® process (MER).
- Once the gunk had been cleared, stay tuned for an inspirational spark. Once you feel more pono (right with the world, aligned and authentic), your conscious mind may start getting some clues to your purpose from Higher Self. You probably won’t get all the details but pay attention to the hints. Especially notice when something feels particularly good or “right,” that it really fits for you
- Coax your purpose to come forward by writing around Start by writing about one area of your life that you feel good about, such as career or relationships. (If you don’t feel good about any aspect of your life, go back to step 1!)
Describe what fulfillment in that area would look like to you. (Remember this is your definition of fulfillment, not necessarily the commonly accepted, politically correct version.) Just write down whatever comes to mind and keep writing until you feel you’ve captured it all.
Next, look at all you’ve written and ask, “Why does this make me feel happy or fulfilled?” For instance, say under the relationship area you wrote, “full expression.” Why does “full expression” make you happy? Is it because you can speak your truth? Is it because you can be creative and loving? Is it so you can explore the inner regions of who you are? Keep asking “why?” until you sense that you’ve hit your most important “why.”
Do this same exercise on all areas of life: personal growth, career, health, relationships and spirituality. Can you sense a theme or pattern? Your purpose is starting to emerge.
- Once you have a theme or pattern, let yourself imagine all the ways it could play out in the world. The same purpose can take many different forms. Think about Patch Adams, Dr. Oz and John of God—all healers, but the specifics of how they fulfill that purpose are very distinctive!
- Take action. Once you’ve discover your purpose, it’s almost impossible to go back to your old purpose-less life—not that you would want to! It becomes important to take some action, no matter how small, toward it. If you try to deny your purpose, no matter how much success you might achieve in other arenas, you’ll still end up feeling miserable and unfulfilled.
In Huna, I was taught that when you follow your heart and do what you are meant to do, it’s no longer “work.” It feels as pleasant and natural as breathing.
Until next time. . .