You already have a purpose. To be fulfilled is to know it. To be content is to live it.
The value of purpose has long been recognized. Famous psychologists who have gone before have aptly pointed out the human need for productivity and contribution (e.g., Erkison’s stages of psychosocial development). Humans are inherent meaning makers and to be devoid of purposeful activity is to invite discontentment. It is a species-wide drive that is essentially inescapable. Even those who profess to have no need to nurture a sense of purpose are finding a sense of purpose in disavowing it!
I don’t believe, however, that our purpose has to be grandiose or public. It can be quiet, small and private. To view an amazingly beautiful and graphical illustration of this concept, watch the 30 minute film, The Man Who Planted Trees.
Of primary importance is how you internalize, process and represent your sense of purpose to yourself. Secondary to this is our need to communicate or demonstrate it to others. The need for attention, approval and recognition for our value actually has nothing to do with the sense of purpose per se. Rather, this would have more to do with one’s place or status in the world. These two are actually distinct and separate needs.
I also do not believe that all people have one purpose that remains true throughout his/her lifetime. This path may be true for some, but not for all. For example, some people have purposeful tasks that remain for a season and then transform into something else. For example, you may take on specific roles because you feel a strong sense of duty, such as to serve in the military or be the primary caregiver for an ill relative. For a season, this may embody your who you are, but that doesn’t mean it will always do so. Purposes can and do change.
Recognizing our purpose, whether temporary or life-long, is an important foundational component of a healthy self-view and is intricately tied to life satisfaction and worth. It becomes an organizing and driving force for specific activities and then an anchor in the time of storms and hardship. It gives us safe harbor in interpreting the meaning of events in our lives and keeps us motivated toward a recognizable goal. In short, our purpose serves to keep us moving, preventing us from becoming stagnant in our march through life.
What is your sense of purpose? If you do not know it, start the discovery process now. “Living in my purpose” is how many people describe their greatest feelings of accomplishment. It is a taste of life as sweet as honey and well worth pursuing.