Do I Need a Purpose?

A common theme I've noticed amongst women my age (nearing in on 40), is that we tend to be seeking to find meaning in our lives. Figure out what we want from life. Where are we going?  What gives us purpose? Those are hard questions. Questions that I think put way too much pressure on us. Pressure to do something amazing with life. To continue to attain high reaching goals. There is nothing wrong with that, unless that pressure is causing you to feel anxiety, guilt or that you are not enough.

Instead, I prefer to focus on what makes my best life. What do I need to feel content? What do I need to keep myself on that path? What do I need to avoid? This has shifted me to focusing on the present rather than the future which I've done for most of my life.

I believe everyone is going to come to these reflections from different places in life. Whether it's because you're coming from a place of privilege where you have reached your main life goals and are now trying to figure out "what next" or because life has perhaps thrown you a curve ball with divorce, death or some other unexpected event causing you to reevaluate where you thought you'd be at this age. For me personally, learning about financial independence and our path to it has enabled me to begin reflecting on it. It started me down the path on what do I want once we reach FI and the realization that I can start incorporating those ideas into our day to day. It made me start to reflect on what would be my best life.

What makes my best life is a list that is long, but generally repetitive and simple. It boils down to two things, spending time with my family and feeling like I'm accomplishing things.  It's simple things in life, reading a book, finishing a sewing project, bike ride with the kids, maybe a board game or two, evening with friends, hike in the woods, getting out for a run, feeling like I've gotten things accomplished in a day even if it's just a bit of cleaning and making some bread.

What fills me up? Long bike rides with the family

What makes me feel empty: constantly refreshing facebook, looking for validation and hope that someone has liked a post I've made or given me the answer to the particular quandary I'm in. Feeling like I'm wasting time.

This has been a constant struggle lately as  I tend to look for outside answers to my problems. Hoping someone else will give me the answer I'm searching when often I just need to wait it out. My contract recently ended and what I thought was a sure thing ended up being a major disappointment. There were a bunch of tears and lots of time spent refreshing facebook and other forums I go on. This really continues to keep me going down a negative spiral, hoping some miracle answer will appear before me and then feeling worse because I've not accomplished anything with my day. Especially when going through a period of unemployment you question your worth. Wondering if anyone will call, and then after an interview, when you'll hear an answer. Mostly I find myself willing time away. The easiest way to do that is through scrolling on social media, but that makes me feel so empty and depressed. Already job hunting is depressing. 

Instead, I've really been trying to focus on the things I know make up my best life and bring me joy. Things I can hold on to and still feel productive. They take more effort and motivation to get started on, but the rewards for my mental health are much greater. So my current state of job hunting as well as a post on a forum I visit has reaffirmed for me that trying to find your purpose in life is too much pressure. Too much anxiety and perhaps a recipe for disappointment if you can't find goals that light you up. To counteract this I am trying to spend time each day focused on what I can accomplish. That explains why I've completed so many sewing projects and have written many blog posts recently. It helps me feel productive.

I'm also looking at what I can check off my to do list. Trying to find things I can do that fill me up and brings me joy rather than leaving me with an empty feeling. It's really a constant battle to get off my phone and get out there and do something, but the doing something makes me feel so much better about myself in the end and avoids the complete emptiness I would feel if I couldn't name my purpose. Because really I don't think I could. There is too much pressure there to come up with something important and the things that make up my best life are too simple. 

It has taken time to realize I don't need to be the high achiever, people pleaser (or parent pleaser) I felt in my youth. My reality and current goals would have felt like failure to that young girl because outwardly it would not feel like I was moving forward, looking to the future, but the reality is my current goal is to find my best life in the present and stop sacrificing for the future. That means doing away with the notion of purpose and focusing on what makes me happy and content day to day.


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