Never buy a coffee from a coffee shop called Insomnia. I mean, really, how much more obvious could it be that it was going to lead to a poor night’s sleep? Sometimes the obvious is so obvious that it gets hidden by its own obviousness.
But insomnia has its compensations. As I lay awake in the wee small hours, I was buzzing with insights as well as caffeine. Some of them even still made sense when I played back my voicenotes this morning. Here is one. Some people, especially around this early part of the New Year, are asking themselves if they are heading in the right direction, if they are on track for the life that they want. Are they living out their life purpose? And how would they know if they are?
Far be it from me to offer advice. I just do what feels right to me. If head and heart agree, then chances are I’m doing the “right” thing. I think that these three are fairly reliable indicators.
1. Does your “purpose” absolutely chime with your personal values, the things that you hold dear?
2. Does it feel like everything that has happened in your life so far has been leading you up to this point? Every skill, experience, and/or attribute that you have acquired – has it all helped to equip you for this project?
3. Does it make you bounce out of bed in the mornings, eager to do what you can to pursue your purpose and move a bit closer to your goal?
If you answer “yes” to all of these, you probably already know that you’ve found your purpose, and you don’t need me to tell you that. If you answer “no” to any of these, would you like to be able to say “yes” instead? If so, then maybe you want to think about asking a few more questions, trying out a few more options.
But no need to stress about it too much – in fact, stressing or striving too hard can complicate matters unnecessarily. Sometimes you just need to get yourself out of the way and allow the answer to come. Relax – there really isn’t any such thing as a “wrong” thing – it’s all a learning experience, even if only to eliminate some options. Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” So what if you try one “purpose” on for size, only to find it doesn’t fit? No worries. 9,999 more chances to succeed await you!
I’d been thinking about this quite a bit recently, in connection with planetary rights lawyer Polly Higgins’s Emergency Application in the case of People of the Planet vs The Politicians. I have been privileged enough to see some of Polly’s early drafts in connection with the application, which have exercised long-dormant parts of my intellect. Many, many years ago, I allegedly studied for an undergraduate law degree – although as I recall, most of my hours in the law library were spent researching the surprising ability of law books to serve as very adequate pillows after early morning crew outings on the river. But somewhere in between the snoozes a few smidgeons of law must have permeated my skull – possibly by some kind of osmosis as my head lay on the pages of dense legal text. Anyway, I find that I am just about able to follow Polly’s lines of legal argument.
There is a kind of satisfying closure in this discovery – “A-ha. So THAT is why I needed to study law all those years ago. I always wondered, and now it makes sense.” Still trying to figure out the point of my O-level French, but maybe in time all will become clear….!
[Photos: another random life skill picked up along the way – taking pretty pictures. These from the Big Island of Hawaii a couple of days ago.]