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Having a purpose is being talked about so much right now it sounds as common as owning a Ford mini van. Can't you go pick one up? I mean a purpose, that is...

Wouldn't it be great if it were that easy? Let's pretend you go shopping for a purpose. How would you do that? Would comfort be high on your priority list? But what about the work a purpose requires? If you aren't willing to do the work that comes along with a purpose, maybe a purpose isn't really what you're shopping for. Are you looking for a genie in a bottle? Or awaiting that winning lottery ticket? Then what would you do?

I had an interesting talk with a woman from Iowa a while back. She attended two top American schools on her way to becoming a doctor. We were having a conversation about how she use to structure her life. As she spoke about studying nights and weekends at the library, she suddenly stopped short and said, "Do Americans not study anymore?"

I was confused and when I asked for clarification she said, "It was amazing to me that it appeared that I was one of very few Americans putting in the extra time to get where I wanted to be in my life. Most everyone else studying at the library were of Asian or some other ethnicity."

My own coach said to me once, "If you are not experiencing joy in your life you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing." Of course, just like many of you, my immediate desire was to say, "Tell me master coach, what is it that I must do to obtain this happiness?" Okay, I'll admit it, I did ask that question. Fortunately, he is a good and wise coach and said, "Hmmm... David, what is it that is missing from your life?"

You see, he already knew I couldn't shop for a purpose. He also knew no one else could brand me with a given purpose. Best of all, he knew that I already knew. I had simply become confused. Now, I say "best of all" but it's powerfully frustrating to be confused, isn't it?

The good news is that there are powerful, natural tools and mirrors all around you 24 hours a day. The daily work of defining, refining or discovering your purpose is to pay attention. 

For instance, remember doing some work that didn't feel like work at all? It fed you, made you feel great and using the word "work" to describe it actually cheapened the experience. Those are, in my wife's words, "Defining Moments." What is within experiences like those that reflect what you are made to be?

Your purpose is mirrored in every situation you are a part of in your life. Now some of those experiences may be boring, dreadful or downright scary, but even during these occasions there are glorious hints being reflected back at you. Will see them? Are you willing to see them?

What impact do you have on people? On things? How do others reflect you back to you during interactions?

How does your career reflect your purpose? Is it possible that your financial position right now is there to teach you something very important about you?

Whether you make money at it right now or not, what do you really love to do, what do you dream of doing or what have you given up on?

How does caring about your physical body reflect being on the right path? If you were on the correct path how would you treat yourself and your body differently?

What can you learn about yourself from your love life? What's your style in an intimate relationship? How do you like to give love and what way do you prefer to be cared for?

Ever hear a song or watch a movie which really moved you? It's not possible to be moved by lyrics or a screenplay which isn't somehow deeply reflective of something powerful about you.

Think now for a moment about all the other people, places and things in your life. Be on the watch. Look into the mirrors all around you. Learn what you can. Put your learning into measurable practice and soon you'll be on the right path, YOUR purpose-filled path.







Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach

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Hello Dave,

I am feeling very lost at the moment.  I had my daughter living with me for over a year and she has left and literally turned her back on me.  Since then I haven't been managing my finances very well at all.  She didn't contribute financially in any way.  But it was an asset having them in the house. There was her hubby and two children.  Recently she gave birth to a new baby and she has shut the door on me.  She is dredging up all the stuff  from the past and laying the blame for her post natal depression at my feet.  she recently gave birth to her third child.  I have tried to take my life in the past and I feel that she has been pushing me to the limits.  I was OK until they moved to my home from the city.
I have given her the space that she asked for.  But I feel so alone and shut out.  I miss my grandchildren very much.  I am a passive person and I feel so alone.  Am I going mad?


Hi Cheryl,

Your story sounds like a painful puzzle... let me see if I can help you make some sense of it.

You asked, "Am I going mad?"  One powerful piece of feeling like you're going mad is to take on parts of life that you have no control over.

There are things going on with your daughter that are outside your sphere of influence.

How do  you know where to draw boundaries?  I suggest a self-inventory.  Ask yourself, in a fair manner, if there is a piece of this with your daughter which you are responsible for.  If there is, take ownership and make appropriate amends.

For the rest, practice letting go daily.  Honor your lonely and/or sad feelings but also fill your life back in with other areas which support you.  Spend more time talking with friends, consult a financial planner to help with the financial stress, do two things in the next week which are fun for you.

Your life revolved around your daughter this past year.  This certainly was ONE support pillar, but if it was unfortunately the only one, I can see how you are struggling right now.  Think about three other places in your life where you've had or would like to have support and begin taking those first steps as soon as you can.

Dave Turo-Shields 


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