Why You'll Never Find Your Purpose (and Why That's a Really Good Thing)

I woke up on Saturday morning and plucked a book from the shelf in my bedroom. Une autre idée du bonheur, by French novelist Marc Levy.

I started reading Marc Levy's books years ago, back when I was still studying French. I'd found his first book, Et si c'était vrai (the one that later became the film Just Like Heaven) the perfect level for my French language skills at the time. It was challenging, but readable.

I've barely touched fiction over the last four years. I've been too busy pumping myself full of personal development, spirituality, business and marketing books. Those books have been good and useful but I've become weary of many of them now. I want to go back to the days when I'd lose myself in a story. The days when hours would pass by lost in the world of the characters written in the pages.

So on Saturday morning I promised myself no emails all weekend. Not a single one. Not even ones that felt important, like confirming calls for the following week. They would wait. They'd have to.

I snuggled back into bed with my cup of tea by my side and turned to the first page. As I began to read, I noticed how rusty my French felt. It had been years since I last read a French book and the meaning of the words seemed to elude me. 

The first few pages were frustrating. Whole sentences were lost on me and I turned the pages not understanding much of what I'd just read. I continued. I knew from experience that this wouldn't last. I knew that things would start to piece together, bit by bit. 

And they did. As I dropped into the rhythm of the book, the words became more familiar. As I read more and gained more context, sections I hadn't understood earlier became clear. With each turn of the page I understood more of what had come before and the shape of the story revealed itself.

Perhaps it was the mention of destiny in one of the chapters, or perhaps it's just the way my mind turns everything I do and experience into a blog post, but it occurred to me that this wasn't unlike the process of 'finding one's purpose' in the way I've experienced it over the years.

At first, not much makes sense. It's frustrating and there might even be a desire to give up. Perhaps the idea of having a purpose is just silly, fairy tale talk.

But those who choose to continue the journey, sooner or later realise that finding one's purpose isn't a moment in time in which something is discovered once and for all, but more of a slow revealing and piecing together of clues.

You realise that there will be no final a-ha moment, putting an end, once and for all, to your lifelong search. Instead, you begin to truly see that your purpose is a never ending story of unfolding.

As you journey to each new place, you turn back and look at what came before. All of that was your purpose too, but now, from this new place, your view opens up and the next phase of what you're here for reveals itself and you begin to see how what came before fits into the story.

I've spent much of the last four years tortured by an incessant and obsessive need to 'find my purpose'. Every time I thought I had it in my grasp it disappeared. But what I see and feel now is what I saw and felt in the pages of that French book I picked up over the weekend...

You will never find your purpose for there is no noun of a purpose to be found. Instead you will continue to turn the pages of your story, sometimes getting frustrated, sometimes having moments of clarity and sometimes putting it down to rest. But so long as you keep picking up the book and turning the pages, you will always find yourself reaching new places and new levels of understanding. As the last chapter fades into the distance behind you, the new chapter opens up ahead, revealing not your purpose, singular, but your path of purpose, an adventure that will last you a lifetime.

Love and courage,