Updated: Aug 26, 2018
Most people are searching for the perfect work-life balance. But what does that actually mean? What thought processes are guiding this question? How is it possible to live the life you want?
3 keys to finding your purpose
The idea of balance implies that there is a separation between work and fun, a separation between earning a living and enjoying your life. Typically, we teach children going off to college that they will have to suffer and sacrifice before they can relax; that they should go into debt and spend years working off that debt (likely doing something they don’t want to do) as a sacrifice to their future self. Then at some future moment when all this penance is paid, they will have magically learned the art of balancing new sacrifices (often tied to the old ones) with personal enjoyment.
This plays out in ways beyond educational debt. For example, if you bear a child too young or out of wedlock, it’s your penance to forget all your goals and dedicate yourself to your child until some fanciful point in the future (when the child reaches a certain age). Get exiled from your home before adulthood, it’s your penance to prove you are not the person they exiled until some fanciful future point (when you are favorably acknowledged by family).
After reviewing the many ways life can play out in this fashion, it is pretty obvious that the debt we feel obligated to pay is often a self-imposed one based in our upbringing. This debt causes resentment among close associates and creates a cyclical binding of psychological habits. But that’s another area of discussion. Perhaps, we’ll dig into why we experience this “do the right thing” complex another time. For now, let’s focus on keys to finding your purpose. A simpler way of describing this penance is “false expectations.”
False expectation is the biggest drain to our happiness. Compounded false expectations morph us into the face we show to the world and others around us--the roles we play at work, amongst family and generally how we present ourselves to the public. Think of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or other social media sites. There is a certain persona based on meeting the expectations of others. It becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the persona we’ve created publically, causing an ever-increasing need to take a break from the persona we’ve created. Over time, we look for ways to experience true happiness. All too often we do this by trying to simultaneously maintain the persona we’ve established. In modern speak, this means we seek work-life balance.
1st key: Know that seeking a work-life balance is an affirmation of giving into false expectations and learning to be content with the fact that you settled in life. This is not the foundation for living your purpose. However, you can take an inward look at what false expectations you’ve built your persona around, and measure those things against the things that truly bring you joy so as to gauge the direction of your life’s purpose. Since your purpose is specifically yours, the only way to get to it is by being authentically you.
2nd key: Generally, your life purpose will challenge your own understanding of what is acceptable or expected of you. This is because most often our biggest dreams coincide with our biggest fears. It will set you apart. You will be surprised at how you are received. It won’t mirror the nightmare you keep imagining. Step out--living your life’s purpose is a gift, and to get it you must overcome.
3rd key: Happiness is your guide. Go with whatever makes you happy and ignore expectations and feelings of competition. Remember, no one can compete with the authentic you. If you can’t pinpoint anything that makes you happy, that’s likely because you have been living as your persona for far too long. Think back to the things you loved doing as a child. If that feels lofty, you can start by paying attention to the places that make you happy, comfortable and inspired. Do you love the beach? Sitting in the park? Being alone? Are you inspired by socializing with others? At a party? Once you figure that out, frequent that environment as often as you can. Eventually, you should move to that location. It will help you get in sync with who you really are, and slowly dismantle your persona. It is important to note that money and false expectations are go hand in hand. You will have provisions, but you must overcome your fears.
When you find your purpose you will know it. Act on your intuitions and watch your life shift into your direction. This happens when you are willing to work tirelessly to bring a passion into being; when, faced with numerous setbacks, you persist in pursuing your passion; when you are aggressively sure that your passion is a necessary resource; and when you are no longer concerned with false expectations. Enjoy life and don’t overthink it!