7 certain signs you’re not living your Authentic Purpose
The English writer Sydney Smith said,
“Whatever you are by nature, keep to it; never desert your line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed; be anything else, and you will be ten thousand times worse than nothing.”
I don’t know that you’ll be “ten thousand times worse than nothing,” but you’ll certainly feel like it.
This is true even if you “succeed” in worldly terms — gaining money, position, acclaim, status, prestige, etc. You will still feel empty inside.
We can gain the whole world and still lose our souls — in other words, be completely out of touch with our essential nature, living lost, confused, and frustrated. Living Authentic Purpose is coming home to ourselves, to who we always have been.
I don’t know what your Authentic Purpose is. But I know you’re likely not living it if any of the following are true:
1. You need external motivation.
External motivation is anything outside of the intrinsic feeling you get when you’re doing what you were born to do, what positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a state of “flow.”
When you’re in flow, he says,
“There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger. And once the conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.”
Forms of external motivation include money, material rewards, recognition, praise, status, prestige, etc.
Two questions to check yourself on this:
- Would you do what you’re currently doing even if you weren’t getting paid?
- If you were given $10 million, would you still do it or would you quit?
The most common and crippling form of external motivation is the need for approval from others. When we’re addicted to approval, we will always do what gets us approval, not what our most authentic self wants to do.
2. You constantly look for escapes and distractions.
In your average day, do you find yourself frequently dreaming of the weekend? Do you love Friday more than Monday?
If someone were to tell you that you had to take the day off, would you be ecstatic or disappointed?
When you do take days off, do you find yourself dreading going back to work, or looking forward to it?
Do you constantly check your smartphone and Facebook to distract yourself from boredom and/or discomfort?
3. You procrastinate doing the most important things.
When you’re not living on purpose, your life is filled with busy work. You may feel like you’re so busy that you don’t have time for anything — but deep down, you also know you’re not progressing at all.
In the back of your mind there’s a nagging feeling that you ought to buckle down and work every day on that project, book, business, etc.
Like Jonah, you keep running away from your calling.
4. You’re comfortable.
Comfortable is different than content. Comfortable is often a shroud for fear. Comfortable is how we feel when we settle because we’re afraid of stretching.
When you’re truly living on purpose, you’re constantly bumping into your fears because you’re pushing your boundaries.
You feel a perpetual state of tension between the utter bliss of doing what you love, and the drive to master your craft. It’s a paradoxical mix of knowing you’re enough yet also knowing that your work will never be enough.
5. You frequently feel envious of others.
Envy is a sure sign that you’re not in tune with your authentic self, or that you don’t see your value. You’re constantly looking at other “successful” people and wondering what’s wrong with you.
When you’re living Authentic Purpose you rest in your enoughness. You feel happy when others succeed by using their gifts. You feel no need to rich or famous because what you’re doing is its own reward, however simple and humble.
6. You criticize others a lot.
Our criticisms of others conceal things we don’t like about ourselves.
We get stuck in the pattern of criticism when, deep down, we know we’re not living our most authentic life. Because that’s too painful for us to admit, we externalize it by criticizing others.
7. You always get caught up in the purpose of others.
When we’re not clear on our purpose, we’re always looking for a home. We become perpetual “joiners” and “groupies,” always signing up for new MLMs, becoming seminar junkies, volunteering all the time for things that may not be the best use of our time and talents.
We become very susceptible to powerful personalities. We put them up on a pedestal. Instead of living our Authentic Purpose, we spend our time and energy promoting theirs.
Living on purpose doesn’t mean we don’t collaborate with others or that we don’t enjoy community, but it does mean that we don’t hide our light behind that of others.
Terry Orlick said,
“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.”
May you discover such a pursuit and live your Authentic Purpose.