For anyone who has risen above the level of mere survival in day to day life, the sense of purpose and meaning become important. The less gripped you are by the need to survive — or simply the perception that you need to survive — you’re free, spiritually and psychologically speaking, to pursue purpose and even to be led by it.

Take a quick moment to evaluate your life on the basis of these descriptions:

  • Do you feel consumed by the demands of your job or schoolwork (or both)?
  • Does it seem at the end of each day that you have been running a race of time, frantically trying to do everything on some mental list of required accomplishments?
  • Do you suffer from stress of any kind on a regular basis?
  • Do you feel that you and your life are stagnant, the opposite of frantic running, wallowing instead in inaction, boredom, despair, negativity or depression?
  • Or, if you’ve said no to all the above, do you feel that your life lacks a sense of meaning and purpose, that you don’t know how to find it?

If any of these descriptions apply to you, then consciously or unconsciously, something is blocking your connection to meaning and purpose. That something is most likely you. It may be that you’re still living in survival mode (which may be true if any of the first four descriptions applied to you).

If this is the case, then it’s very important that you take a good look at your priorities in life. Spend several days pondering this question throughout the day: “What am I making most important in my day right now?” You may be very surprised by what you find. Be honest with yourself and write down what you learn. Notice also how you feel about these ‘most important’ things you fill your days with.

How satisfying and fulfilling are they? How many unnecessary activities are unsatisfying to you? Take special note of those. They are the activities you can drop altogether. As you do, you will free up time and inner space from which you can begin to contact and develop your sense of purpose.

Your true purpose already exists, that’s the good news. You don’t have to create it and it’s not a matter of choosing it. Purpose is something you discover within yourself in the space of stillness. This is the only way you can find it, in your own stillness, not in a book or a workshop or in the analysis of your dreams. You must go within and be with yourself in stillness and there you will discover the purpose that has been waiting for you all along.

There’s no substitute in life for finding your true purpose. No amount of money, no degree of power, no activity will give you the satisfaction that a life of purpose provides you.

It’s important to know that your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose. Your inner purpose is primary. It concerns Being. Your outer purpose is secondary and it concerns doing. Your inner purpose cannot be found on the outer level of life. It isn’t related to what you do but what you are. Your inner purpose, simply stated, is to awaken. This is the primary purpose of every person in the world.

Many people are very concerned with discovering their life’s purpose. They are normally referring to their outer purpose. Outer purpose can change over time and is unique for every person. Inner purpose can shed light on your outer purpose. Inner and outer purpose, ultimately, are intertwined and aligned. The more you are connected you are to your inner purpose, the more your outer purpose will come into focus.

Living in alignment with your inner purpose is the basis for fulfilling your outer purpose in the world and doing so successfully. Without this alignment, you will most likely struggle in your attempts to express your outer purpose. Without alignment to your inner purpose, there’s less joy in all of the activities in life.

Take time each day to reflect on your inner purpose of awakening. Do this by paying attention to your state of consciousness. Give yourself a daily discipline of practicing presence.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Finding Your True Purpose