This morning I was woken at 5:30 am by my 9-year-old son, “Mum, I feel so empty inside. I don’t have a purpose.” A moment of shock was followed by the thought that he’d clearly been listening to too many of my phone calls. My first response… please remember I was still half asleep… was, “Maybe you’re hungry. Go and have some breakfast.”
Over breakfast we continued to talk about his lack of purpose. The first thing I asked him was, “Do you know what purpose is?” His answer was, “Not really, but I think I should have one.” I went on to explain that “purpose” is the reason why we do things and it is more than just “because we must” or “because someone tells us to”. Purpose is the underlying reason to do something and when you have that purpose you are excited about what you do and you feel good about doing what you do.
By the end of breakfast, we’d worked out his purpose. His purpose was to “Ask questions, to learn, to listen and to explore. To find out what is important to him.” His response to this was, “Oh, that’s good, that’s what we do at school. I do have a purpose.”
This was a proud parenting moment that happened well before sunrise.
At my first meeting, I told my client about my 9-year-old philosopher and her response was, “If only life was that easy. I would be happy if that as my purpose.”
This conversation got me thinking. Perhaps it can be that simple for all of us. Maybe our purpose can be the same as my 9-year-old son’s, the same as any child.
We all want to find purpose in our lives and our jobs. It’s great if you can find passion and purpose in what you do. However, a grand purpose can be an elusive thing, some may never find it. This doesn’t mean we have no purpose. Like my son’s, your purpose might also be to never stop learning and never stop questioning. What greater purpose could we want?
Being a life-long learner is a great purpose. None of us knows everything or are good at everything. It doesn’t matter that this can sometimes be hard to admit. It is true! There is always something new to learn, there are questions to ask to help better understand and to challenge.
Learning can happen in all areas of our lives. I am not just talking about study or formal learning. Watching the news to learn about what is happening in the world. Listening to your partner or children to learn more about what matters to them. Discovering new places, new food, new friends… All of these are learning experiences that enrich our lives.
So, like my son, seek opportunities to learn, question to better understand and to improve. Make learning your purpose.