“The meaning of life always changes but never ceases to be.”Viktor Frankel (Man’s Search for Meaning page 111)
What have you changed in your life over the past week?
Maybe your clothes, your meals, or your shoes.
Now how about the past month? … the past year? Or how about all the changes you’ve gone through since age 10?
My bet is, a lot has changed in your lifetime. And you’re probably okay with that because variety and novelty can make us feel good. So then I have to ask, why are you so concerned with finding your purpose in life?
Let’s do an experiment. I want you think about something you do decently well in life. It could be anything from running long distance to braiding hair, or from applying nail polish to scrambling eggs. Once you have that thing in your mind, I want you to think about whether or not you came out of the womb knowing how to do that particular thing. … Stupid question right? Because you obviously had to learn how to do literally everything in life.
Now when you learned how to do that thing you’re thinking about, did it cause you to change something about yourself? Maybe you realized you’re good at running so you signed up to run a marathon. Or maybe you realized you’re the bomb.com at scrambling eggs, so you decided to make brunch for your family one Sunday. Once again, I bet you were okay with those changes because you took steps to align what you do with what you know.
So if you can change on a micro, day-to-day scale, why would you ever think you only have one purpose in life?
Macro Changes Are Okay Too
If you can change on a micro scale, then you can change on a macro scale. Since you are capable of changing in a countless number of ways, it makes no sense to think you have only one purpose to fulfill in life. Your purpose changes as you change. And if you are like me and you feel like you lost one purpose, that does not mean you should stop looking for purpose altogether.
There must be a fear.
Because when it comes to small-scale decisions, you are encouraged to learn and change. Wouldn’t you agree? I mean, think about all those times you were encouraged to try the new item on the menu, listen to that new song, or take a different type of cardio class at the gym. I think it’s quite common for people to encourage someone to step outside their comfort zone, knowing they will learn and grow as a person. But when it comes to large-scale decisions (i.e. decisions that have a larger impact on your life), you chicken out.
“But I invested so much time into doing x. If I change what I do, then I would have wasted all that time!”
I hear that line a lot. I might have even said it once or twice. The truth is, there’s no such thing as wasted time when it comes to the large-scale decisions. On the contrary, there’s only fortified time, meaning that any time you spend doing something helps you build a stronger and better version of you.
But They Don’t Want You to Change
So who’s “they”?
It could be your parents, your friends, your in-laws, your colleagues. “They” is anyone who expects you to fulfill a purpose.
But sometimes they mean well. Sometimes they want the best for you. So when those types of people hear you’re changing your job or dating a new guy, they are going to probe for questions.
“How do you know you’ll like your new job better?” “You’ve only been dating for 1 year, are you sure you’re ready to move-in?”
When people have your best interest at heart, there’s nothing wrong with these questions (let’s call them realistic questions). But when people think they know what’s best for you and don’t want you to learn through first-hand experience, those questions seem to imply their expectations of you; those questions seem to be posed as statements (let’s call them question-statements). So all of a sudden “how do you know you’ll like your new job better” becomes “you won’t like your new job better”. And “are you sure you’re ready to move-in” becomes “you’re not ready to move-in.”
Now here’s the tricky part: you need to ignore these question-statements. If anyone expects you to fulfill a particular purpose in life, please know that their expectations are not your problem. I know their lack of encouragement hurts, is uncomfortable, and is incredibly discouraging (especially when they are someone you care about), but you have to learn to let that sh*t go.
And I especially know making changes as an adult throws people for a loop… because you’re supposed to stop learning and changing after your 18th birthday. *insert massive eye roll*
Don’t you think it’s weird though? Like, you can go from wanting to be a firefighter at age 8 to a wanting to be a doctor at age 10, and no one questions anything. But when you go from being a chiropractor to a teacher at age 35, people think you lost your marbles.
So then, if finding alignment between your inner and outer world is so sought after, why does it seem to be discouraged in adulthood?
That’s the Way Things Are
When people do something that works well for them, they are going to encourage others to do the same.
But just because Thing A works well for Person A, that does not mean Thing A will work well for Person B. Although, it’s funny how quickly that can be forgotten; encouragement can turn into expectation real quick.
And when you expect something from others that they don’t want to achieve, you are setting them up for failure in your mind. So when Person A (who raves about counting macro-nutrients to lose weight) finds out Person B is following the Ketogenic diet, they might be a little shocked and expect Person B won’t lose any weight.
The thing to remember here is that everything works. Some things just work better for different people. So please don’t be an “Expectation Edward”, and instead be an “Understanding Uma”. You can give someone your opinion about Thing A when asked, but don’t turn your opinion into an expectation of their success.
And if you feel like others are expecting certain things of you, please just know this …
You Are the Only One Preventing Change
At the end of the day, lack of encouragement from others does not always mean discouragement from others. Realize that if you are not 100% confident in making a change, you are more likely to seek approval/validation from others. Sometimes it’s your own insecurities that keep you from enacting change. So if enacting change is something you struggle with, I challenge you to accept discouragement into your life., start looking at wasted times as fortitude times, and to begin seeing change in a positive light.
Remember to be your own cheerleader. But please don’t forget I’m cheering for you too.
As always, Happy Monday.
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.