By Bill Burridge
New Insights Africa Life Coach Traning
"The purpose of life is a life of purpose." Ok, I have to agree that this is a pretty common saying amongst the life coaching fraternity - but in this complex 'game' we call life, I can't help believing that this little phrase provides a tantalizing clue to what it takes to be a winner! The trouble is, for so many of us, understanding our true life purpose is just not that easy or simple. Can you say, categorically, hand on heart, that you know with clarity what your life purpose is? And if you're one of the fortunate mortals who answered yes to this question, here's another: "Are you living your life on purpose?" Thanks, in large part, to my introduction to life coaching, I now know what my life purpose is, I can honestly say that I feel I am really starting to live it and my life is certainly changing for the better. But you know what? It took me around half a century to get to this point! It seems so strange to think that during the entire course of my upbringing, my education and my working career, no-one ever thought of challenging me to describe - or even just think about - my life's purpose; not my parents, not my teachers, not my work colleagues, not my wife - and here's the twist - not even me! Why, if this is such a vital ingredient in enjoying a satisfying and rewarding life, isn't the understanding and pursuit of one's life purpose considered a fundamental part of growing up? I struggled to come up with an appropriate answer to this until I thought carefully about my own life journey and why I had taken the course that I did. It made me realise just how 'programmed' we humans allow our lives to be. It's as if we're all following some formula that has been collectively devised and 'perfected' over the many years of our predecessors' experiences - and from which we dare not deviate! The problem I have with this is the fact that it is based on the presumption that others know best what is right for us; that society should dictate who we are, what we do and how we act. I invite you to think about it. Bear with me here...
In all likelihood your parents chose to send you to the school that they felt offered you the best education for what they could afford. At school you were taught that to 'get somewhere' in life you needed to study hard and get good grades. Your peers taught you that to behave in a way that was out of character with the rest of them would be embarrassing and possibly hurtful. Your family and friends probably encouraged you to take up a career that would pay well and then your employer dictated to you how to do your job in the way that would be most acceptable to them, dangling the carrot of a good career, possible promotion and more money if you toed the line. Your church, if you belonged to one, made it clear what was expected from you to be regarded as a 'good' Christian, Buddhist, Moslem or whatever. Once married, your spouse dictated to you what they expected from a 'good' partner and society largely
influenced your beliefs about what it meant to be a 'good' mother or father to your children (no doubt this included teaching them the very same perspectives on what constituted right or wrong). So here's my point: The way we humans have structured the accepted way in which we live our lives on Earth gives short shrift to the concept of individual uniqueness and freedom. We are constantly expected to conform with the norms, standards and expectations of some or other collective group to which we belong. Is it, therefore, hugely surprising that few of us ever get to think deeply about our life purpose until late in life, if at all? Yet getting acquainted with our life purpose - and then living it - can be the most liberating, emotive and joyful experience that we can have. For, suddenly, our lives gain true meaning and our days become challenging, inspiring and fun filled. Our success is assured because our continual focus on doing what we believe we were put on Earth to do attracts to us the very things we need to achieve our purpose. In short, our success breeds more success. How, then, does one get in tune with one's life purpose? I believe the secret is to listen to your 'inner voice'. "Hmm..." I can hear you grumble, "How the heck do I do that?" Well, let me suggest you start by freeing up some of your time and space. Remove yourself from your day-to-day environment and the continual information bombardment we face. Find a place of relative solitude and beauty. Then give yourself time to settle in to the surroundings and take note of your own 'background conversation' - that constant unspoken chatter going on inside your head. At first the 'chatter' will likely be an endless stream of self-criticism and self judgment: "I hope no-one is trying to get hold of me." "I'd be embarrassed if someone saw me sitting here." "The boss will be angry if I stay away too long." "This is such a waste of my time when I should be going to gym." Hang in there and eventually you'll begin to notice your 'background chatter' taking on a different tone: "Funny, I never noticed that object there before." "Wow, it's really beautiful here." "Gosh, this place is so peaceful." "I feel relaxed and at ease." Once this starts happening, you know you are becoming receptive to your inner voice. Now ask yourself the following questions: "What was there in my early life that caused me to work hard and have great fun at the same time?"
"What is it that I do now that I work hard at but which feels more like fun than work?"
"What things do I do that I can't seem to get enough of and that I put my heart and soul into?" "What is it that I really enjoy doing that seems to come naturally to me?" It may take you a while before you find the answers coming easily and the jigsaw pieces start falling into place. You may need to retreat to your place of solitude a few times and you may need to question the honesty with which you first answered your own questions. But have patience and your purpose will eventually become clear to you. Then you will sense a wonderful feeling of inner peace followed, perhaps, by bewilderment and mild embarrassment at the fact that you had not reached this point sooner!