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The Pursuit of Happiness with Purpose

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When we're young, we put most of our energy into becoming who we think we should be in the future. We build a life apart from our parents by working on our careers, building a family, creating a home, and all the other things we need to set ourselves up for what we hope will be a good life.

We take clues about what it means to be successful based on what we see around us, usually making unreasonable comparisons of how we measure up to other people when we can only guess what their actual situation may be. As we get older, we start comparing what we used to do or be to where we are now, although, by this time, we've clocked too many miles to go back to that person we used to be. The world has moved on and changed, and so have we.

But we seldom discuss what happens after we find our Prince Charming, move into the castle, and produce heirs. We're taught to think that once we've achieved all the successes we are supposed to accomplish in life, we live happily ever after. But life is not that simple. Situations change. The questions we ask ourselves change too.

After years of striving to get where we thought we should be, there comes a time when we look back at the journey of our lives and wonder who we really are and what we genuinely want to be when we grow up. We start thinking more about the path we're on and how time, which once felt plentiful, is beginning to feel limited. We wonder if there is more to life and how to fill this deep longing to find meaning.

Too many people stay stuck in this itchy feeling of wanting more from life, thinking this longing will be filled with more affirmations of their success – a bigger house, a sporty car, and much more. Or they numb themselves from their feeling of longing with temporary pleasures and instant gratification. In the quest to find meaning in our lives, it's easy to get stuck and not know how we got there and how to change this.

I've been thinking a lot about life's purpose and what this means this year, but not intentionally. The theme of living with purpose has organically emerged repeatedly as I've been developing new classes. Whether I was researching happiness, burnout, mentoring, or any topic, living with purpose continually came up as the linchpin that holds everything else together. Here's what I'm learning.

Being stuck sucks. 

I don't like the feeling of being stuck. I can tell I'm stuck when I feel like I'm waiting for a bus. The best way I can describe this is that it's a dissatisfied feeling, like I'm waiting for something to happen or change, feeling frustrated about where I am and wondering how I can fill the ache I can feel deep in my solar plexus. It feels like life has lost meaning.

It takes courage to discover your purpose, expect something more from life, and believe you were meant for something meaningful. It's a normal part of life to sometimes feel stuck and disappointed. This realization is the first step to deciding not to stay there.

Our purpose changes throughout life.

When we're younger, we aim to establish our careers, raise children to be excellent humans, or establish a life of contentment. We set goals for ourselves and have achieved them. So now what? Is that all there is?

Finding meaning in life takes introspection and a change in perception. 

While our purpose in the earlier parts of our lives involves caring for ourselves and the ones we love, discovering our purpose later in life is different. We struggle to find meaning because our focus has always been turned inward on what we need.

We think of fulfilling our purpose as the pursuit of happiness. But we need to realize happiness is the byproduct of a meaningful life of purpose. Instead of asking ourselves, "What do I want from life?" the question becomes, "What does life want from me?"

The pursuit of something meaningful is more than material success.

Living a meaningful life is finding a way of serving others, leading to a feeling of significance that goes far beyond self. A sense of purpose draws people outside themselves as they participate in captivating, energizing activities filled with growth opportunities. The personal satisfaction of serving others is a deeper kind of happiness.

Consider the context. 

To discover our purpose, we must consider the bigger picture and the context of our situation, the people, place, and the time in history we're a part of. The people around us, our community, and our culture shape us and color our view of what we can do. What needs do you see? Discovering our purpose is about finding a way to serve the people we're placed among.  

Try experiments.

Pinning down purpose to one choice can be paralyzing. After all, choosing one path means leaving others unexplored. The decision will never be 100 percent clear, except in the rearview.

Rather than making a definite decision, explore your choice with small action steps, which I like to think of as experiments. It is a good choice as long as some action is taken to move closer to living with purpose. Often, figuring out our purpose comes in fits and starts, morphing and molding as experiences are gained.

Get clarity from community.

You don't have to figure this out by yourself! Most of us struggle with asking for outside counsel because we believe we know what is right for our lives. Let others come on the journey with you.

Other people know us in a way we don't know ourselves. Emotions can cloud our decision-making, and we have blind spots. Others can help us see more clearly. When we look only within ourselves for answers, we reinforce the old ways of seeing the world and outdated views of ourselves.

Living with purpose creates peace of mind.

Discovering purpose has a significant impact on our happiness and health. It gives directions to our goals and keeps our eye on the prize. We start measuring success with a different yardstick, looking at how we influence the world rather than what we need to possess.

Purpose gives our life meaning. Looking for the answer to "What does it all mean?" gives us the understanding that the Universe is vast, and we're all tied together. Meaning is the nourishing experience of feeling connected to something bigger than ourselves. It helps us thrive when things are going well and helps us cope when things go wrong in our lives.

Let's do this together. 

What started unintentionally has become deliberate. The more I learn about living purposefully, the more I want to know. The epiphanies I've had this year have me thinking and moving in new directions, which is a fine definition of getting unstuck.

This statement will always be a work in progress, but now I'm defining it as:

My purpose is to empower women who crave more from life to ditch their roadblocks, unlock inner confidence, and unleash their true potential to live life on their own terms with purpose and power.  

My purpose is to help you discover your purpose, which leads me to an important announcement!  

I'm excited to announce our new Study Hall program, Living with Purpose, a 6-week program designed to help you discover, refine, and live with purpose. Check out more details below.

Our first Home Room Class is open to a very limited number of students, so if you're interested in being included or want to know more, click on the button below to apply.

Thank you for all your love and support this year. I'm excited to see what 2024 will hold for us all!

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Because We’re Never Finished  

The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves, not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages to learn from experts and each other how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life.

To learn more about what we do:  for our classes and free social membership.

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