I was having a conversation with my husband the other day, he came home feeling a little blue and kept asking the question ‘what is the purpose of all of this, what is it that I am aiming for? In the past we had spoken about goals and set some for ourselves which obviously helps when you focus on that, on days when work feels like a chore. I asked him if he had a purpose, his immediate response was, ‘I don’t have one, I was not born wired like you who wants to change the world’.
A lot of people think that having a purpose means working towards world peace, or putting an end to hunger in Africa, that a purpose has to have this massive big life altering goal. Granted I do have a pretty big purpose, but it did not start out that way, nor does it have to end that way. I shared the following with him
Years ago, I had only just started on my personal development journey and was part of a social supper club. One of the supper club members Robin, was a Psychologist and on one particular night we were all having dinner out. I was moaning and feeling very sorry for myself because of another crappy relationship ending and going on about how lonely I was. I made a statement something like ‘why does this always have to happen to me’. Robin, between shovelling spoonful’s of pasta in his mouth, casually looks up at me and says ‘why not you?’ I was shocked and quite frankly quite annoyed with him. My immediate assumption was that he meant that I deserved having crappy relationships and the ongoing bouts of loneliness. I remember the evening ending very abruptly after that, I felt so angry and stormed off home and had a very restless night’s sleep. The next day Robin called me saying that he was sorry that what he said upset me so much and could he pop round for a chat, I agreed. He arrived with a book by Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning and went on to explain what he was trying to say to me the night before. It took me a while to get it and after reading Viktor Frankl’s book, my ‘woe is me’ attitude along with my general attitude to life, changed.
For those who do not know the story, Viktor Frankl was in a Nazi concentration camp in WWII, so was his wife. However they got separated so were in different camps. The men in the camp were distraught, stressed, ill and going through horror that none of us could even imagine. Viktor saw how many men were dying around him, from malnutrition, starvation and everything else that goes with it. Viktor couldn’t stand what was happening and he made a decision to accept the state of his life at that moment and also to give it some meaning. He made a choice and a decision there and then that he would focus and give his life a purpose. The purpose he assigned to his life was to stay alive and positive so that he could see his beloved wife when the war ended. He made his wife his purpose and by focussing his mind on that while men were dying all around him, he stayed alive. Everyone had been treated the same, everyone had been fed the same food, yet Viktor stayed alive. When the war was finally over, he discovered that his beloved wife had died, but he learnt that having a purpose is what made ‘his life worth living’ for.
When I read his book and ‘got it’, I wanted to change my attitude to life and not knowing where to start or what purpose to have, I decided to make my children my purpose. I decided that I would become the best possible mom that I could be so that they could have all the tools to have the best life that they wanted. The day I made this choice and changed my attitude to life, was the day that my personal development journey took hold and I started studying human behaviour. I attended courses, I starting reading books and when I saw the results of my studying and how my life and my children’s lives changed, is when my personal development journey turned into a full-time career. A career that I love and am so incredibly passionate about.
What’s great about having a purpose is that not only does it make your life worth living, but you can change it. My children are now all self-sufficient adults, so when they left the nest, I ramped up my career and made my purpose bigger. I now help other people to have great relationships and parents to become the best parents they can be.
I gave my husband a little challenge, the challenge was to find his own purpose, whether that be to be the best possible husband, father, grandfather or engineer. It would be up to him to choose.
I would like to pass that same challenge onto you, what is your purpose, what gives your life meaning. In my experience and my opinion is that when your life does not have a meaning or a purpose, then it’s not a life at all, but an existence where you just go through the daily motions. When you find your purpose, your life will turn around 360 degrees, and there is just no looking back. There is nothing more fulfilling than living a life that has meaning and purpose, instead of having to drag yourself out of bed each morning and just get through the day.