Here’s how to redefine your “purpose” in a way that makes it instantly accessible no matter what you do in life…
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See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World
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The idea of “finding my purpose” has haunted me my whole life. I’ve always felt incessantly – even compulsively, compelled to determine “what am I here on this planet to do” and then once found, throw myself into my new purpose with wild abandon. I could almost taste the freedom, joy and sense of deep meaning in my life once I found my special purpose. Emphasis on the word “almost” in that last sentence.
You see, it took me nearly 60 years to figure out I was chasing a rainbow. No matter what I did, how hard I tried or how long I meditated I would simply never find my purpose the way I defined it – like what I am supposed to “do” in life. However, once I re-framed what “purpose” meant, it instantly found me and opened up a wondrous world of possibility. Hopefully, what follows will save you from the same struggle.
Searching for Meaning in Doing
Most men derive a deep sense of meaning in life from what they do. That has certainly been true for me. The path in life I have chosen to express that belief is through entrepreneurism. What better way to live my purpose than to “change the world” for the better, make a difference, and have the world ultimately be a better place for my efforts after I finally check out.
Well… it didn’t quite work out that way. It is clear to me now that the primary reason I was a bona fide serial entrepreneur is that I was always looking for that “one thing” to do in my career that would fulfill my existential sense of purpose. After starting a number of ventures and throwing myself into them with alacrity only to still feel unfulfilled, it was clear my approach to this whole matter of “purpose” was off.
Being vs. Doing
In September 2011, I made a fateful choice for the direction of my life. From that point on I vowed to never live “shut-down” (i.e. always trying to protect myself from being hurt or feeling anything for that matter) to being fully heart open. Which means I insisted that I would allow myself to be brutally vulnerable, absolutely authentic, fully present in the moment and feel everything, including those moments in life that don’t feel particularly good at all.
Within that perspective, it suddenly dawned on me that “Purpose” was a state of “Being” and nothing to do with “doing”.
My Life Purpose statement now reads as follows:
To live fully and completely heart open regardless of circumstances and never let fear stop me. To be the Human Being I initially came into this world as without any ego-based armor or protection.
As corny or quaint this might first sound, it works for me –powerfully. Now at this point you might be thinking: “Fine, but what I do in my life is still important,” –and I couldn’t agree more. However, armed with this new context of purpose I am able to address the issue of “doing” in a much more fulfilling way.
Purpose, Mission, Vision
I created a document for myself that lays out what’s truly important in my life and I how I show up in this world as a man. I gave it the clever title: “WHAT’S IMPORTANT” and it addresses just three things:
- Life Purpose– i.e. why am I here? (on the planet)
- Life Mission – i.e. who do I serve and how?
- Life Vision – i.e. what do I want my life to look like?
Using this framework I can still live my purpose no matter what I end up doing, even flipping hamburgers. Life Mission reflects my preference as to how I spend my energy (doing) –ideally in alignment with my Purpose and best utilizing my gifts. Life Vision is also a preference as to how life shows up for me in terms of ideal circumstances. It’s important to note though that of the three, Life Purpose (as defined above) is the only thing I have full control over – the other two are subject to circumstances out of my control.
In case you are interested, here’s a link to my “WHAT’S IMPORTANT” document that includes an image of my Vision Board that hangs on my wall.
None of the Above is True
The point of this whole discussion is not to claim that I figured out what everyone’s Life Purpose is – only what myLife Purpose is. I harbor no delusions about knowing what works for you. However, in sharing what works for me, hopefully you found something useful for your journey to discovering what Life Purpose means for you. And this is a journey well worth taking.
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About the Author
Michael is a prostate cancer survivor who was left completely impotent as a result of his treatments. Yet, it was because of his impotence that he and his partner discovered an entirely new approach to emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy that far exceeds anything either experienced prior to when things were working “correctly.” His mission is to help men, women and couples everywhere to achieve extraordinary intimacy on all levels.
He is an international speaker, author and thought leader on the issues of human connection and intimacy. He also speaks pro-bono to Cancer Support Centers and Gilda’s Clubs around the U.S. for cancer survivors and their partners about regaining intimacy in the face of cancer. Go to MichaelRusserLive.com to explore the possibility of having Michael speak at your next event.
Michael is also a champion of the nonprofit men’s work being done by the ManKind Project (MKPUSA.org). He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2012.
iTunes: Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Disconnected World
TEDx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK8f8w7ICng