How to follow your purpose when things get tough

How to follow your purpose when things get tough

Alicia Curtis
Written by: Alicia Curtis
@aliciacurtis
Alicia Curtis

Living according to your purpose, strengths, and values will dramatically improve your life for the better. But it will not be easy. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that pursuing one’s purpose can trigger anxiety. I know this in my own life to be true – and of many change-makers too. It can be exhausting to follow a greater purpose. You wonder whether you’re making a difference, whether it’s worth it, and whether there is an easier way.

Following your purpose is a process, not a destination

Following one’s purpose makes many people feel like they are not good enough. That where they are in life isn’t good enough. And they feel they may never be good enough to live their purpose. If that is you, you need to understand that following your purpose is a process, not a goal. It is the sense of direction that guides what types of activities and accomplishments you pursue. And your success at those things does not define it!

Purpose requires sacrifice

Another big reason why people do not pursue their purpose, strengths, and values is that it requires sacrifices. In some ways, society makes it easier to just eat junk food, lie on the couch after work, and binge watch the latest tv show. Or to think that the latest gadget or expensive bag will bring you happiness.

Purpose takes sacrifice. To live the life of a revolutionary, you have to make decisions outside the norm. You have to take actions outside the norm and surround yourself with those moving on a similar path.

How to hang in there when following a purpose-driven life gets tough

1. Know the stress coping mechanisms that work best for you. Change is stressful! And stress on top of additional responsibilities can make transitioning to living a purpose-driven lifestyle difficult. What are the activities that get you in flow? Running, dancing, painting, playing with your kids or going for a walk in nature? Get in the flow.

2. Stick to a sleep schedule to prevent exhaustion but also be prepared for some sleep-deprived days. If you are working full-time while acquiring the knowledge and experiences that you need to transition into a position that more closely aligns with your purpose, strengths, and values, some tired days are inevitable. However, you are unlikely to achieve your goals if you are continuously exhausted. Arrange your schedule to ensure you have at least six to eight hours of sleep. Sleep is integral – don’t skip it!

3. Celebrate the small milestones. This is so important! We forget to celebrate along the way. When you make progress by finding your purpose, consistently do something that enhances your strengths, step out of your comfort zone to make a decision that aligns with your values, or achieve any other milestone, acknowledge it. Research shows that celebrating small wins makes you more motivated and happy. It’s the small things – don’t forget it!

Find a Partner

A powerful way to ensure that you stay on track is to find an accountability partner. Think of it as peer coaching.

The American Society of Training and Development found that people who have an accountability partner are 95% more likely to complete goals on time than individuals who try to achieve their goals on their own.

95%! That’s huge!

Your peer coaching partner could be a work colleague, supportive friend, or family member who will not let you make excuses. Or if you want to grow alongside other people who are pursuing big goals, join a mastermind.

Masterminds are groups of people who support one another in their goals. The benefit of being in one is that not only does the group hold you accountable for what you tell them you want to accomplish, seeing the other members of your group do great things can increase your motivation to do the same.

Final Words

Stick with it. As Ryan Holiday would say, the obstacles are the way! Take every challenge and reframe it as a way of learning, a way of improving, and a stepping stone to living the life you want. And remember, a little stress helps us challenge ourselves as we rise to the occasion!

Now over to you: What is holding you back from pursuing your purpose? I’d love to know!

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