The Problem With Finding Your Purpose
Ep. 187
| with

Follow Along:

This week I want to talk to you about finding your purpose. Most of us have this notion that there is one purpose to our lives and we should be deeply fulfilled and if we’re not, then something is wrong. So we go out and try to find our purpose, but how do you even know if you’ve found it? This week, I explain the problem in finding your purpose and offer my thoughts on how to reframe this major issue.

Show Transcript
We ruminate, we're constantly obsessing over: is this the right thing? Is it not? Is this my purpose? How do I know? We read all the books. We just do all the things. And what result does that create in your life? That you don't find your purpose.

Hey, welcome to Lessons From a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode. I am so excited you are here. Before we jump in, some exciting things or at least, I think they're exciting, you probably won't. I added a little button on the website. If you go to So you go to the podcast page, at the top of the podcast page, there's a little button where you can leave me a voice message. And you might be wondering why would I leave you on voice message, Goli? Great question. I wanna do some episodes where I'm answering your questions, like things that you are struggling with, things that maybe I'm not covering that you wish I would cover. And so I want you to go and leave me a message and I might use the message in a podcast episode where I answer, you know, you guys’ Q and A’s or I might use it as kind of a jumping off point to create a podcast episode based on that message. So if you have a problem that you want solved and you can't make it to the free coaching calls that I do once a month or if you think that there is a topic that you would wish that I would cover and I haven't covered yet, I want you to go to and leave me a little message. Say your name or don't and maybe you'll hear yourself on a future episode. So that's that. I just got back from a week-long Mastermind. I went to Kentucky to Mastermind for my business. And every time I'm in a container like this and I'm in a group and I get coaching, it just solidifies how much I love coaching and how much I will forever pay for coaching because I feel like I'm a coach and I still can't see my blind spots and it takes somebody else to just short circuit my journey for me to see something that I don't see. And every time I go, I tell you guys I have the thought like I'm gonna get what I've paid for. I'm gonna get it from one thought. And it's always more than one but I had some really big shifts in not seeing where I was getting in my own way. And I feel like it cleared up a year of frustration for me, a year of repeatedly running into a wall. So I'm super grateful for that. And I'm super fired up about what is gonna happen for the next year on this podcast and with this group. And so I just say this to share my experience because I was very much of the camp of I don't have the money to pay for this or why would I pay somebody this much? Or this is a lot of money. And I just saw a graphic on Instagram that was so on point, it was saying like the good news is if you don't invest in yourself, you get to keep your money. The bad news is if you don't invest in yourself, you get to keep your problems. I mean, just chef's kiss, like the absolute truth. And the thing is you can do things on your own, it just with a lot more frustration and takes a lot longer. So I've sort of become of this mind of like why would I want anything else, right. Why wouldn't I spend my money making myself feel better, figuring out ways to have a more peaceful life. You know, like we all budget for a lot of things and listen, I'm all about nice things. And I want you to make all the monies and have all the great things. When I think about I'm like okay, you're gonna save and have a nice house so you can be miserable in that nice house? You're gonna like shop and buy all this stuff in the hopes that it makes you feel better in that instant, even though you know it's not gonna make you feel better long term. And I've just shifted the way that I think about investing in myself, you know, beyond what it gives me in an ROI for like my business or whatnot. It just makes this experience so much more enjoyable, right? I realize with business, in this Mastermind versus I know a lot of people in other Masterminds that don't really focus on mindset so much and focuses more on like strategy. And I constantly see people like burning themselves out. You know, it's like you get all this hustley advice and you do all the things but you haven't dealt with like the root cause of why you feel the need to be productive all the time and why you feel guilty for resting and why you have these limiting beliefs about yourself. And so you can push through for a certain amount of time and then you burn yourself out. And I notice this group that I'm in, what's amazing is people are making ridiculous amounts of money but with just such a level of ease and non-hustley energy and confidence and just a settled, calm foundation and it's just really worth everything. So that's just my 2 cents on investing in yourself. I was just reminded of it because I came back and it's funny because I have all this and as I'm getting ready to invest I'm like should I pay this? Is this a lot of money? Am I being crazy? And then I go and I'm like oh no, it was a hundred percent worth it. So take that for what it's worth and let's move on to the topic of the day. Okay, I wanna talk to you guys about the problem with finding your purpose. Okay, I hear this in some capacity all the time. A lot of people, especially if they're new to me and they come and find me, is a regurgitation of some lie that we've been sold, that there's like one purpose to our lives and you have to go out and find it. And if you're not feeling as though you are fulfilled and in that purpose right now in your job, then something is deeply wrong and you have to figure it out. Okay. And a lot of us, especially if we're in the position of wanting to change our career, it's driven by this thought of like okay, if I'm gonna do something else, I have to figure out the one thing that's gonna be my purpose before I can jump. And it seems, I guess, a little productive or it seems beneficial, like of course I should think about what is my purpose in this life? What do I want? Where am I? You know, it sort of, I think disguises itself as a positive, like I'm gonna get value out of figuring out what my purpose is. And I wanna tell you why that's not true and why it's actually the root of what is causing a lot of your problems. So if you follow me for any period of time and you know, you're not new to the podcast, if you are, you may wanna listen to some other episodes before. I mean, you can listen to this but just understanding really the way that I talk about our mindset, you know, that a lot of what I preach and a lot of what I've found and a lot of what I think the secret to life is understanding is that it's your own thoughts that cause your feelings and then your feelings are what drive your actions. Okay? The reason we do the things or don't do the things that we do. And so I want you to think about this. If you have the thought: I have to find my purpose. Okay. It might seem like a totally true fact, right? Like as if you're just relaying the weather to me, it's like oh yeah, everyone should find their purpose or I have to find my purpose. I want you to think about when you think that thought what feeling that thought creates for you. Because for a lot of us, that thought creates pressure. Okay. Now it could be in different ways. It could be in like a sort of a panic. It could be a frustration but there's a sense of pressure that comes from thinking the thought I have to find my purpose and you can finish that sentence. I have to find my purpose before I quit. I have to find my purpose in order to be fulfilled. I have to find my purpose so that I feel like I'm leaving a legacy, whatever it is. It leads to a feeling of pressure. And what do we do when we feel pressure? I want you to really think about it. When you feel like you are under pressure, when you feel stressed about something, what are the actions you take or you don't take? I know for me, and for a lot of my clients, what I see is as soon as we start feeling a lot of pressure, we procrastinate, okay. We buffer. We start scrolling Instagram. We, you know, watch some Netflix. We get overwhelmed very easily. We run around and we do all the things. We start taking assessments online. We start trying to follow 20 hundred people on Instagram to see what they say we should do. We constantly second guess, like what we should be doing. Is this the right one? And what about this job? Is this my purpose? How do I know? Right. We ask everybody and their mamas what we should be doing, right? It's like maybe somebody else knows what I should do. I should talk about it with every friend I have, with my parents, with my spouse. We do all of these things. We ruminate. We're constantly obsessing over is this the right thing? Is it not? Is this my purpose? How do I know? We read all the books. We just do all the things. And what result does that create in your life? That you don't find your purpose. Your quote unquote purpose, right? If you're running around like a chicken with its head cut off, constantly second-guessing, constantly ruminating, constantly creating a lot of pressure for yourself. What you're not doing is slowing down and figuring out what it is you actually wanna do with your life.

And so what's interesting is like these thoughts that we have that seem beneficial or seem like the right thought are actually what create the result we don't want in our lives. Because here's the question for me: how would you know if you found your purpose? I want you to think about that for a minute. I think we think there is like some feeling, all of a sudden, we just get this sign from the universe that like this is your purpose. Go forth, my child. Right. And like that doesn't happen. And so I want you to think about how do you think all of the people who say they found their purpose, right? Who say like oh, I'm living into my purpose or this is what I'm doing as I feel so fulfilled in this. This is my purpose in life. How do you think that all those people found their purpose? I want you to think about this before I answer it. I want you to, I wanna know what your own answer is before you listen to mine, but here's how simple it is. They just decided that it was their purpose. That's it. It was just a decision. It's just a thought that they have. They're like oh, this feels good to me. I find value in this. I find importance in doing this work. I feel fulfilled, whatever it is, value out of this. And so this is my purpose in life. That's it. They just decided. I'll give you my story as an example. When I was a public defender, I believed that was my purpose, right? It was my purpose to offer a voice to the voiceless. It was my purpose to help people who didn't have the same resources and the same shot in our criminal justice system. And if I was still a public defender, I would still be believing that thought, right. I would still just make the decision that like I have chosen to do this work because I find it valuable and it necessary. And so my purpose in life right now is to offer this service that is so desperately needed. Okay. And now that I've quit and now that I'm doing a podcast and something very different, I could sit and believe that like I have left my purpose or I haven't found my purpose but I truly believe that right now, my purpose is to help people not suffer needlessly so much. Right. I feel like I have found the secret to life with mindset work in my own life. And I think that it has helped me so drastically live a different life, even though the circumstances in my life are not as different, but just the amount of suffering I have is, that I want to share it with everybody. And I want everybody to understand that they have a lot more control than they they have. And then the feedback I get from you guys just really solidifies, like for me in my thought like oh yeah, I'm really doing something purposeful. I've really found my purpose in doing this. And it's funny cuz I've I've had people tell me that like it feels as though you have found what you should be doing in life. And I think that's funny and it's sweet and I agree, but only because I've decided that. Because there's 10 other things I could do and still find purpose in them. And so my thought on this is that there isn't one purpose in your life that you need to seek out as if it's like hidden under a rock. You don't need to find it. It's not, it's not out there. Now, I wanna give you a caveat because I get some messages about this type topic cuz I've talked about it before in other context. If you are religious or if you want to believe that there is one great purpose in your life, fabulous. Go for it. Have at it. I'm all for it. If that thought helps you, great. Keep it. But for a lot of us, it doesn't. Okay, it just adds a lot of pressure. And so if it just makes you feel terrible about not finding your quote unquote purpose yet, I want you to question it. I'm not saying you have to, you don't have to adopt my thoughts. That's not the point of this podcast. You can choose to believe whatever you want about it. I just want it offer you my perspective on it in case that might help you reframe it a little bit for yourself and maybe take some of the pressure off. So why do I think that there isn't one purpose beyond the fact that like I've just said that we just decide what our purpose is. I want you to like span out a little bit and look from like a macro level of the world and human beings and work and all that. So if we just like zoom out, I want you to think about the fact that we're just animals. As much as we wanna believe that we're different, we are just animals on this earth. Okay. Human beings have been around for millions of years and for the vast expanse of history, for the majority of history, we did the same things. We were hunter gatherers for about 90% of history. We weren't even at the top of the food chain, right. We lived in our little tribes. We did what we had to do. And I want you to think about that, what do you think their purpose was at that time?
Right. For millions of years, hundreds of thousands of years, what was people's purpose? Did they have to have a purpose? And then there's been progress. And we have a very, you know, I think what makes obviously humans different is that we have a very evolved prefrontal cortex. And so we can plan and we had the agricultural revolution and that change happened a little more slowly than the industrial revolution. We had certain roles based on that, like based on where you were born, right. There wasn't a lot of like upward mobility. So if you were a peasant or whatever it was, like if you were a farmer, that's what you were gonna be. And again, like what was their purpose? I just like think about it, you know, like did that person and think that they had it to have a purpose in that life? Did they have a purpose in that life?

I highly recommend the book, Sapien. It's just a fantastic book and it just is such a reframe. It helps you just really think about humans and life a little bit differently. So take a look at it. But one of the things he said that was really fascinating is like if you took a time traveler that was a peasant in the year 1080, okay. And you took that peasant through time 500 years to the year 1500, right? Not a lot would have changed in that 500 years. Like yeah, some things would've changed but they would've still understood what was kind of happening in that society. Right. But if you took someone from the year 1500 and then you put 'em in the year 2000, it would be a completely different world, right? Like after the industrial revolution and all this stuff, like what someone would've come and seen, the technology and the way we live and the work that we do now is just completely different than how humans have lived for the vast majority of our history.

Okay. And I say this to say like if you look at what we have to deal with now, in Viktor Frankl's book, Man’s Search For Meaning, it's really interesting cause he was a psychiatrist and he talks about how in psychiatry and in psychology, it was interesting. He's saying psychiatrists deal with either distress or boredom. Okay. It's problems that either arise from distress or from boredom and for a lot of human history, we were stuck in distress. There was famines, there was wars, it was very brutal. And so a lot of kind of neurosis in our, in our mindset problems happened from being in trauma and being in fight or flight and being in distress. And now in society, a lot of our problems stem from boredom. I'm not trying to say that as like to minimize it, right. It's interesting to just look at how the brain works and how we create certain problems for ourselves. Because for us, like the absence of a lot of that distress leads us to our brain is constantly looking for a problem to solve. And so oftentimes, we create more problems for ourselves to solve. And in my mind, I think part of this like purpose problem is that. I'm not trying to minimize it in any way, by the way. I'm not saying like I think it's very real and can cause very real physical symptoms in you, this kind of stress and pressure. But I just want, like when we look at it from a a macro perspective, we don't realize that without the immediate stress and distress that a lot of us have. Which is an amazing thing, like we have progressed so much in our society that most of us aren't at risk of dying of famine or like really brutal wars the way that it was, that we get to sit around and think about existential issues. Right. We get to like sit around and think about things that other people may not have the time to think about. And that's wonderful, but it also creates a lot of anxiety and problems for ourselves that I just wonder like do we need them, right? Can we start questioning that? Like do I need to sit in this much angst over what my quote unquote purpose is?

And so I wanna go back to the animal example. Like the reason I bring up animals is, and I do this a lot when I talk to my group and my group coaching program. I just like for myself, I just think about like what's a whale's purpose? What is a dog's purpose? Yeah, like does that dog have to find, like does it have to be the best sniffer like hunter? I don't know. I mean, you you have to answer that question. But at the end of the day, I just look at them as like they're just animals. Their purpose is to just be. It's to exist. Uh a fellow life coach who is a brilliant, Brig Johnson posted something on Instagram the other day that had me thinking and she had posted like we're not human doings. We're not human achievings. We're not human becomings. We're human beings. And I just really think about like a, you know, what if there was no greater purpose that you had to achieve? That like just by being born and existing, you are living into whatever purpose it is that you need to have. And that doesn't mean you don't go for things or you don't try to push yourself or you don't try to live the best, most exciting, most adventurous, most fulfilling life you can have. You absolutely should. I'm all about goals. I'm all about growth. I'm all about pushing yourself. I'm just saying like if you can do it from a place of not constantly telling yourself that you're missing something or that you should be doing more or that somehow you're failing or falling short because you haven't found this like elusive purpose, you might actually get further in figuring out what you wanna do. So you get to decide what your purpose is and that purpose can change. Hopefully it will change as you grow. Right. What if there wasn't just one calling that you had to find in order to fulfill your life? And what if that calling doesn't have to come from your job? Again, like when we talk about like what has been created in our society, great, we've had a lot of progress and we have jobs and we have things that make our society run, but do I need to find purpose in my job? Now again, I have found purpose in my job and I do think that it can be helpful. I just think sometimes we're in jobs where maybe the point of this job or this stage, this season of my life, is not to find some grand purpose but to like pay my bills and that's it. And that's okay. I don't have to beat myself over the head every day over the fact that I haven't found my one calling in life. Because I think about if we go back to like, think about the thought: my purpose is just to exist and enjoy this one life I have, like when you think that thought, think about how you feel or you may feel calm or curious or excited. It relieves the pressure. And when you feel calm or curious or excited, what do you do? You just let yourself try things. You learn. You experiment. You open yourself up. You don't make it so dramatic about like the next thing has to be the thing and it has to fulfill all of my wants and needs. When you can do that is when you actually start figuring out like who am I? What do I want? What do I want this one life to be? And amazingly, that's what leads you to your quote unquote purpose or the thing that's gonna light you up the most. I just want you to play around with this thought, like what if you just got to decide what your purpose is every single day. It could be a different thing. Maybe one day it's to put a smile on someone's face. One day it's to just hold space for a friend. One day to just ask your body what it needs and give it to yourself. Look, we are so much more than our jobs. And when you live within this faulty idea that there's some purpose out there that you don't know and you have to run around and find it, how can you ever know if you found it? You just decide. It's just that thought. And again, people will argue with like what the truth quote unquote is, like the truth of maybe it's their religion or whatever they wanna believe in as some kind of higher power, we should have some kind of higher purpose. Totally fine. But how I evaluate my own thoughts is not what is true, but what is gonna serve me. Okay. And I say this to say like it is a true thought, it is a fact to say that we are gonna die one day, right? Every one of us is gonna die. It does not serve me to run around every single day thinking I'm gonna die. I might die today. Today might be the day. I'm gonna die. Right. It's still true. I might die today. But that thought will never serve me in my life. And so, even if you can't get past the quote unquote truth of whether you have a purpose or not, fine, but does it serve you to constantly put the pressure of finding a purpose? Cause if it doesn't, maybe we just shelve it for a little while. Maybe we just decide like how do I lean into more like what feels good to me? What are things I wanna learn? What experiences do I wanna have? What kind of new growth do I want? Maybe I lean more into that than paralyzing myself with the thought of like oh, I gotta find this one purpose in life and then keep myself stuck forever. And so my advice to you is just choose what is gonna serve you best. And for me, that's deciding that I get to figure out what my purpose is in every day, every season of life. And it will change. It will change as my family changes, as my children change, as my job changes, as my interests change. And that liberates me to experiment and try new things and go for a bigger, bolder version and not have to know what this bigger like made plan is supposed to be for my life. It gives me the freedom to be a flawed human, to not always have to show up and be serving in my best capacity or whatever, doing whatever, shitting on myself all the time. And that inadvertently has led me to being able to help so many more people and do so much more. I would love to offer that thought to you. And so go out my friends and live whatever purpose you wanna have for today and then decide again tomorrow and decide again the day after that. Alright, I hope this was helpful and I will be back next week for another episode.

Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, share it with someone else. I promise you know somebody who also hates their job and wants to quit, so why not share the love? And if you want to come follow along for more, come join me on Instagram at LessonsFromAQuitter and make sure you say hi. I'll see you next week for another episode.