At least once a week, I meet a forlorn mid-lifer who whispers to me, almost embarrassed, “I don’t have a purpose.” It’s almost like they’re suggesting they don’t have a personality or a reason for living. Self-help gurus, like Tony Robbins, proclaim, “Activity without purpose is the drain of your life.”
Damn, am I going down the drain if I can’t emblazon my purpose on a bumper sticker?
But here’s a thought: what if purpose was meant to be a verb all along and not a noun?
As a noun, it’s something you possess—a valued asset in your grasp that you can show to others. But, as a verb, it’s a deliberate and conscious way of being: to be purposeful. You don’t have to obtain or clutch your purpose as an object that might slip through your fingers. You show up with purpose and, magically, you become a magnet for the possibility that our purpose may come to us rather than us having to track it down. It’s much like happiness: always better when it arrives organically and on its own time, rather than being pursued. Being purposeful may be more important than discovering your purpose.
So, the next time you feel depressed that you haven’t found your purpose, ask yourself, “How could I show up purposeful and optimistic today? How might I serve someone beyond myself?” Move into that action-minded, verb-focused approach to purpose, and you may soon find unexpected gifts coming your way.