It’s time to talk about the big picture – who we are in the world. While self-awareness and self-acceptance discussed in the first nine installments of this series are important, we also need to pay attention to our fundamental need for contribution. The desire to share our wisdom, values and grace with others can be a powerful force in our lives.
I spent much of my life vaguely aware that I was only part of who I was meant to be. My jobs most often utilized my N & J skills – I was a whiz at organizing, planning and making stuff happen. But the child I’d been, the “me” that loved helping others, the little girl who played rescue with her Barbies and built tiny homes for pill bugs, had been thrust aside. I was living in survival mode, and, in my desire to succeed in what often felt like a foreign world, I tended to ignore what was really important to me.
I believe that we are all put on this earth for a purpose. And each individual has been designed to be the perfect combination of life experience, curiosity, ambition, and awareness to fulfill that purpose. I call it my Higher Purpose but you should call it whatever works best for you.
At some level you already have a sense of your higher purpose, whether you’re fully aware of it or not. It’s an internal awareness – you can identify it by the zing of correctness you feel when you’re on target and by the discomfort and discord you feel when you’re off purpose. For many people our higher purpose never emerges as more than just a jumble of vague feelings – they’re happy when they’ve done “good” and feel embarrassed or unsatisfied when they’ve strayed.
I want more than that for you. I want you to get clear on what’s most important to you, and what impact you want to have on the world around you. I believe that to know our higher purpose, to accept it as such, and to seek to live it, whatever form it might take, is why we are on the earth.
Exercise: Mining For Your Higher Purpose
Already know your higher purpose? Great! Go ahead and skip to the next section. This exercise is for those of us who aren’t quite clear about it.
Often our higher purpose is right on the tip of our tongue, just out of sight. We kind of know what it might be, or we know the general category, but it’s still a foggy idea of something that will be great as soon as we figure it out.
Below are some questions that help you start to identify your higher purpose. Whatever it turns out to be, it comes from what’s important to you. It can be about the wrongs you want to right or change you want to bring about, or the beauty you want to contribute in the form of art or music. Its the pure expression of your unique combination of talent, insight and sense of what matters.
Mull over these questions in whatever way works best for you – jot your thoughts in your journal as they come to you or consider a new question each time you exercise.
- What did you want to be when you grew up? While our childhood answers might seem trite and conventional – we wanted to be firemen, ballerinas, or cowboys – even those answers contain information (we want to rescue people in danger, create beauty and grace, or have rough ‘n tumble adventures). At various times I wanted to run a post office, be a private detective and write books. What leaps out at me from my answer is a love for order, finding solutions and communication. What information can you extract from your childhood dreams?
- What are your “hot buttons”? When you look at our society what upsets you the most? I react to any form of bullying – from the tragic high school kids who are bullied into committing suicide to watching Donald Trump verbally abuse anyone who contradicts him. Our hot buttons tell us what’s important to us, what we feel needs to be changed.
- What comes up when you remove all the barriers? What would you do with your days if you had all the money, time and support you needed? If your perfect occupation was instantly available to you what would it be? So often the logistics of our lives get in the way that we spend our time in maintenance mode and never move into the stuff we planned to do when all the work was finished.
Think you know your higher purpose? Here are some things to keep in mind when you decide what’s next:
- You don’t have to quit your job to pursue your life’s work. I have a friend who tutors illiterate adults on weekends, another who works for Habitat for Humanity whenever she can. It’s all about finding ways to fulfill your higher purpose where ever you are, not finding a place where it already exists. I was still employed when I started training to be a life coach so I tried to use my developing skills to help my co-workers deal with the outsourcing of our department.
- You don’t need to know how to do what you want to do, you just need to start. If you wait until you feel you’re ready, chances are you’ll never begin. When I was training to be a coach, we were encouraged to find clients after our very first class. We had to trust that we’d be ok, and we had to be willing to make mistakes. And even though I goofed up plenty I couldn’t have been that bad – I’m still working with several of those early clients.
- Living your higher purpose will make you uncomfortable sometimes. Any time we try something new we end up pushed out of our comfort zones in some way. We may end up having to talk to strangers, travel alone, maybe even make a speech to a room full of people! Creating the impact that we want to make in the world takes courage, resilience and persistence. Luckily, each of us already have those qualities available, all we have to do is use them. Feel like you’re not courageous? Take the next step by deciding to do something that takes courage and presto! you’re courageous. Just like that.
- Your higher purpose will change as you explore it. One thing I learned in coaching is that as we make progress toward our goals, our goals will continually change. As we learn what we need to know to succeed, our goals tend to become deeper and more meaningful. The same is true for your higher purpose – as you bring your passion into the world the world will reward you with more passion, which will fuel a deeper and richer purpose to pursue.
My Higher Purpose isto help everyone (including myself!) become more self-aware, self-accepting, and as confident as possible. Everything I write is about learning about who we really are, and then loving what we discover. And then simply being ourselves in the freest, biggest possible way.
My gift to you is my deepest and sincerest wish that you experience the beauty and power of who you really are deep down inside. And your gift to me has been your time spent reading and contributing to this blog.
This is the tenth installment in a series of weekly articles about making the most of being an INFJ. For previous articles visit 10 Steps to an Amazing INFJ Life.