Let’s start with a quiz! Which statement below best describes you?
- Not even sure I have one or am worth having one
- I’m sure I have one but I’m not certain what it is
- I know what I’m about and I have a few ideas of how to carry it out but haven’t landed on one yet
- I’ve got it and looking forward to the journey ahead as I figure out how to live it out in a way that’s uniquely me
- I know what my calling is — and I love it! — but life has shifted and I’m reevaluating or restructuring my approach
During my love affair with purpose discovery back in my 20’s, my view on life purpose was pretty simple.
You knew your purpose or you didn’t.
And if you knew it, it meant you somehow knew your path to get there. And that was that.
Well… it turns out that with emotions, desires, circumstances, goals — maybe living out your purpose and calling is a little more complex than that.
Not everyone I met cared about having a purpose or not.
Some single friends who were certain they knew their purpose — to get married and raise kids — were really struggling because their life wasn’t lining up that way.
Other friends who thought they had chosen the college degree or career that was meant for them were realizing they were longing for a different lifestyle or impact.
Yet others knew what they wanted in life and had the discipline to keep moving towards their goals with joy and satisfaction that was inspiring.
Over the years, as I coached clients around their goals and their sense of purpose, I began to realize five phases in living our purpose to the fullest. Each of these stages has its own arena of awareness, ownership and action required for growth.
SO what are these 5 phases?
1 — LONGING / The Survival Phase
It’s time for a new level of awareness in your purpose or it’s time to dream when you often feel:
When you recognize these feelings YOUR BEST NEXT STEP is to shed your comfort as a victim or bystander in your life.
Of course, this is easy to say. The reason we don’t is because of what we believe about ourselves and what’s possible both within and beyond our limitations.
When you open up to EXPLORE who you are when you’re at your best and what could be POSSIBLE for you so you can change the story you’re living.
2- RECOGNITION / The Discovery Phase
In this second phase of living your purpose to the fullest, you begin moving from tolerance and passivity to curious exploration:
- make space for self-awareness,
- affirm who you are and how you’re wired
- acknowledge what you’ve been through and how your experience might help others
- identify what lights you up
- assess your gifts and abilities how you use them to add value
- uncover the kinds of people you’re drawn to help
- determine the kinds of problems you’re feeling compelled to solve
YOUR BEST NEXT STEP in this discovery phase is first, to be honest with and kind to yourself.
Second, recognize both the new possibilities as well what goodness has been right in front of you all along.
Third, begin identifying options you want to consider.
3 — INVITATION / The Calling Phase
In this third phase of LIVING YOUR PURPOSE to the FULLEST, out of all the options and problems in our world, you tune into a growing awareness of
- an idea, burden or drive that won’t go away
- the ending of one expression of your purpose and the beginning of a new God-dream
- a mission you feel compelled to be a part of
- a movement you’re becoming impassioned to start
- a grander story you’re in and how you specifically could be a part of it
YOUR BEST NEXT STEP in this calling phase is to create a quiet space to tune into this invitation that’s emerging from. You could journal your exploration of this dream — how, what, where, who, when? Then write down the obstacles and fears and brainstorm options for addressing each one.
4 — ACCEPTANCE / The Mission Phase
Merely knowing your purpose can give you a sense of SECURITY, assurance and belonging. You tend to feel more at PEACE with yourself for a time. Because you believe in yourself differently, you’re EXCITED about the potential and possibilities you never noticed before.
the glow of basking in your sense of purpose will wain if you don’t take action.
In this phase, it’s important to:
- accept that “call” by putting new rhythms into motion
- act on the next steps you know to take
- listen to the needs of those you’re called to help
- learn strategy, systems, skills and soul-care you’ll need to support the mission
- make a plan, implement it, evaluate and adapt along the way
Teachability and humble confidence and action go along way in this phase!
5 — BECOMING / The Aligning Phase
After accepting and owning your mission, it’s time to grow in your understanding of how to accomplish the dream, mission or project that’s the expression of your purpose.
As you learn what you need to know and what skills to develop to carry out your mission, you find others who are doing something similar. You discover how many different ways there are of carrying out the same mission — whether it’s
- leading a group of people
- being a whole-hearted happy mom
- running a ministry
- providing a business service
- marketing a book.
Your approach might to to try #allthethings and wind up discouraged about not getting consistent results. Or maybe you’re invigorated to the point of overwhelm because what you’re trying is actually moving forward.
At some point, you realize you need to align your focus and actions with the kind of fulfilling life, impact and pace you want to experience.
Spiritually, it’s called formation.
In business, it’s often called scaling or up-leveling.
In personal growth, it’s called maturing.
In leadership, it’s called development.
In this phase you’re
- acknowledging what doesn’t energize you the same way
- recognizing what is and is not working well
- valuating and aligning your actions with your values
- streamlining, eliminating, simplifying and maximizing
- establishing a strategic support system
Which phase are you in?
What I have found reassuring is knowing that I can ease in and out of these phases throughout my life. Life isn’t measured by how long you’re stuck in one or achieving Phase 5 status, but by how well you’re growing through the lessons in each one.