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Highly Sensitive Life Purpose




I think "life purpose" gets a bad wrap!


People have all kinds of ideas about what it is and how to get it, but I've found a lot of definitions to be confusing and hard to apply.


So, I've defined it in a super clear, concise way so it’s way less intimidating and way more approachable for you to use in your everyday life.


I’m going to give you the skinny on Life Purpose and how that can change your life as a Highly Sensitive Person (aka HSP).


I love this topic because Clarity is one of my biggest values, and when you get super clear about your life, things tend to click into place a lot easier. Decisions become simpler (way less confusion), we get a lot more inspiration and motivation, and I find having clarity around the direction you’re going and how to get there creates so much more ease and alignment with a lot less stress. No more drama!

As HSPs, knowing our life purpose can reduce our stress and overwhelm, save our precious energy making decisions, and keep us connected to every area of our lives. Things we need and values as HSPs.

I’m also a big fan of defining your life purpose – notice I said define, not “find” or “discover” – because I have a whole program around this called Polaris: Get Unstuck and Find Your North Star. If you want to know more, stick around to the end of the episode to hear how you can take the insights from today’s episode to the next level.

Let’s get started!

When you think about the phrase “life purpose” what comes up for you?

Does it feel like some huge, epic thing?

Does it have religious connotations for you or some kind of “divine” flavor?

Do you believe it’s attainable for you or something luckier, more disciplined people have?

I want you to just take a moment to notice what kind of emotions and thoughts come up for you around this phrase. Would you label those feelings and thoughts negative, positive, or neutral?

In my experience? A lot of people seem to dismiss life purpose as something they’ll never have. That’s something other people find, but I certainly haven’t found it yet.

For growth-minded people like you and me, it might bring up book titles full of ideas that feel hard to grasp and apply. That was definitely the case for me. I kept reading these books hoping to find some answers, and mostly they said, “You have to find it for yourself.” Duh.

I discovered a very simple, very approachable way to think about life purpose in coach training, and it’s been a HUGE shift for me.

Here’s my definition of life purpose – it’s the way you’re showing up in the world. How you are in the world. How do you act, what are your thoughts and beliefs, and what are the values and attitudes you bring to each moment?

If you think of yourself as a compass, the life purpose is the arrow that points you in different directions depending on where “true north” is for you.

It’s the path you choose to get you from where you are to where you want to go.

Here’s my life purpose statement, to give you an example.

I show up to every area of my life in a VIBRANT way. I’m here to share my gifts of empathy, deep thinking, and curiosity with the world. And in the process, I aim to experience growth and freedom.

Vibrant for me means living life in full color and experiencing all of it, the good, the bad, and everything in between. It means always improving and growing. It means not avoiding, withdrawing, or disconnecting from life, but showing up however I am that day and doing my best to feel connected, present, and brave.

If I have the option to do something, say take on a new project in my coaching business or spend more time with someone, I look to see whether that opportunity makes me feel vibrant or whether it makes me feel overwhelmed, small, or even apathetic. If it doesn’t help me live in a vibrant way, it’s a “no, thank you!”

Now, I understand that not everything is going to be a positive option. Loved ones can ask us to help them out when we’re already tired from our day. We may have a deadline for boring, complicated paperwork. Or it’s simply something we have to check off the list (like chores) to keep things running smoothly.

Again, being vibrant doesn’t mean sunshine and glitter. It means fully experiencing everything life has to offer without mentally checking out and coming back when the commercial break is over, aka when it’s fun and interesting again.

Boring, annoying, and even really sad stuff all falls under the umbrella of vibrant for me, as long as I’m showing up fully for all of it.

Conversely, there may be some things you REALLY want to do, like add another game night to your weekly calendar, meet a friend for an impromptu tea date, or blow off your day to watch TV and snuggle with the cats.

But if doing these tempting things, at this time, means you become stressed or overstimulated, that’s an “I’d love to, but I’m not available for that.”

See how this is working?

It’s flexible, personalized, and meaningful.

As HSPs, we need all three of these things: flexibility, personalization, and meaning.

We thrive when we can plan our time around our energy levels as well as our commitments.

We connect and recharge when something is specifically tailored for our perspective and the way we process so many aspects of situations and our internal states.

And meaning is like oxygen for us. We think so deeply and feel so intensely that without meaning, things feel flat and lifeless.

Am I changing your mind about your life purpose yet?

Instead of it being static and specifically tied to a result, it’s about you and how you’re being in the world, which grows and evolves as you do.

Your life is rich and dynamic, and this style of life purpose gives you a way to see the things around you as aligning with your inner being – and to release them if they don’t align.

Let’s talk about a few other concepts people commonly confuse or bring into life purpose that are definitely different.

I have a favorite dictionary, (English major) which is the Oxford English Dictionary, or the OED. To help clarify some of these terms, I looked up the actual definitions.

1.      Job

 

OED A paid position of regular employment, a post, a situation; an occupation, a profession.

 

In other words, your job is the thing you do to make money.

Your job might be a part of your life purpose and you love your job (I certainly love mine!), or it might be the thing helping you bring in a paycheck so you can achieve your purpose in other ways.

When I started my professional organizing business, I had two side-gigs working retail (at The Container Store, naturally), and as a virtual assistant. Neither job was my begin-all, end-all, but they helped me bring in a paycheck so I could get my feet wet in a new career – especially as a first-time business owner. I also enjoyed aspects of the work.

My coach, shout out to Emily Otto, says to think of your side gig (or job) as an investment in your business. Rather than getting an influx of cash from someone else, it might be good for your highly sensitive nervous system to ease into a new career or business by bringing in your own money while you grow the thing you love on the side or plan things you love in your personal time.

Nothing is ever wasted. Even if something isn’t directly related to what you want, it’s helping you get where you want to go in another way. Your job might be part of that.

 

2.     Calling

On the other hand, a lot of people think of your life purpose as your “calling,” the grand thing that gives you a reason to be alive. A calling is often called a “vocation” which I think is interesting because “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vox” for “voice.” You use your voice to call something in.

Back to the OED, a vocation or calling is a strong conviction that it is one's duty or destiny to follow a particular profession, way of life, or course of action.

In other words, it’s something you feel a strong pull to do, something you feel you were meant to do, even if it’s challenging or difficult.

A calling is often something that requires commitment, stamina, and curiosity. It’s something you pursue over time and may include plenty of stops and starts, experimenting, and learning from mistakes.

People think you can only have one calling, but I disagree. I think we have lots of callings throughout our lives if we’re willing to listen to them.

I’ve had a calling to be a coach for almost a decade. When I became a professional organizer, I was answering a call to entrepreneurship for the first time. I’ve had a calling to host a podcast and YouTube videos and share content for a VERY long time, and here we are!

You might have a calling to certain kind of relationship, whether romance or friendship or creating the family you want, it could be a calling to do a kind of work (like painting or speaking or serving others), or it could be a calling to accomplish a task (writing a book, traveling to a special destination, forming a foundation or charity, etc).

You have probably already answered a number of callings in your life already.

And you likely still have callings that are speaking to you now, no matter how young or old you are.

Your calling in this season of your life is your north star, and your life purpose is the way you get there in the most authentic, genuine way that only you can do.

I love this quote from Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way” – We are the origin of our art. Originality is the process of remaining true to ourselves.”

No matter what you do, if it remains true to you, you’re an original. Isn’t that super empowering? Any fears I have about not being original enough melt away when I think that.

We are all “originals”, and our life purpose is how we choose to follow our current callings.

3.     Goals

 

I think people often mistake life purpose for the final goal or outcome they want to achieve in their life. At the end of it, they can look back at the big thing they’ve accomplished and feel proud and complete!

 

OED: An aim or outcome which a person, group, or organization works towards or strives to achieve; the object of a person's ambition or effort.

That’s not your life purpose either. Remember that your life purpose is the way you are in your life, how you think, act, and feel about your life.

Your goal is the specific result or outcome you want to create, and your purpose is how you want to pursue it.

It’s the scene in your head, the climactic moment in the movie when you know you’ve done it! You see the money in your bank account, you can search your new book on Amazon, you pick up a heavy weight and see yourself using it in the mirror. This is the snapshot that says you have achieved your goal.

A calling is more like the movie montage where you see the hero cleaning up their space, going for runs, and generally getting their act together in a clear shift from where we saw them at the start. That’s how you know it’s a calling.

If you have a calling to write a book, that pull to write is something that fulfills you, it lights you up, it builds your confidence getting through the tough parts and overcoming obstacles.

It becomes a goal when you take that drive to do something and turn it into a result, like getting your book published (either by a traditional publisher or self-publishing online), making a certain amount of money from your book, or picturing yourself sending it to a loved one.

Here’s how this comes together. I want to remove stress and stigma around being highly sensitive (that’s a calling for me). The way I go about it, with lots of enthusiasm and humor and sharing ideas is my life purpose – to be vibrant. Creating podcast episodes and YouTube videos is my goal, a specific outcome. The calling might be the same for another high sensitivity expert, but their purpose might be to reassure HSPs in a calm, scientific, maybe therapeutic way. Maybe they focus on writing a book or articles as their goal.

Same calling, different purposes and goals.

4.     Passion

OED: An intense desire or enthusiasm for something; the zealous pursuit of an aim

Intensity is the key here. There are tons of ways to use the word passion, but in relation to your life purpose, I think people tend to use them synonymously as though your life purpose is the thing that sparks your passion.

Without passion, without intense emotion, it’s not a “real” purpose, or it doesn’t count.

I disagree. Passion, intense emotion whether positive or negative, comes and goes, but your life purpose is steady, flexible, and personal.

I often have a passion for new courses and online programs. One of my loved ones calls this NCE or New Course Energy. I LOVE diving into new content, learning new ideas, and doing reflections to learn how to apply my insights to my life.

And of the dozen or so online courses I’ve joined, I’ve only finished a few of them.

It’s not that they aren’t great courses because most of them are! But it’s that my passion for them waned as I got what I needed from them or the timing of course came to an end.

Passions can align with callings and goals, but it ebbs and flows and tends to have a lot of energy and intensity earlier on. You can approach both callings and goals with passion, but the calling and the goal will still be there, even when the passion fades.

 

To recap, your life purpose is the way you live your life – the way you choose to think, feel, and act. A job is what you do to make money, which you may express your purpose in or not. Your calling is the pull you have towards something as though it’s meant for you. A goal is an outcome or result, a big finale scene that shows you’ve accomplished something. And a passion is the intense emotions you experience while pursuing a calling, a goal, or even a hobby.

Your life purpose when you bring it to each of these aspects of your life, makes everything feel more fulfilling, more meaningful, and more aligned with who you are. It can be a part of all of these other things and of your daily life.

The amount that you live in your life purpose determines how authentic you feel and how satisfied you are with your life.

That’s what I’ve got for you today! If you liked what you heard in today’s episode, here are a few ways you can take this to the next level.

I’m hosting a live workshop called “Life Purpose Madlibs” this afternoon, Wednesday, January 17, 2024 @3pm EST on Zoom. We’re going to take all of this information and apply it so you can create your own life purpose statement and get clear on how you want to show up in your life.

If you’re hearing this after the fact, I’ll have the replay available through Friday, January 19, 2024 so you can learn in your own time. Sign-up for the replay on the Workshops and Classes page of my website, stephanielinn.com.

If you’re listening WAY into the future, get your highly sensitive self on my email list by signing up at stephanielinn.com so you’ll always be the first to know when my next workshops and webinars will be. I host them every month, and I take all the info I’m sharing here and help you apply it. Plus, you get to ask me whatever questions come up as you learn. Links in the show notes.

And finally! As I mentioned at the top of the episode, I have a whole course around this topic called Polaris: Get Unstuck and Find Your North Star. One of the first things we do is determine your life purpose so that we can get you out of confusion, overwhelm, and doubt and into clarity, momentum, and action towards your current callings and goals in this season.

This is a completely tailored 1:1 coaching experience with me for 3 months, and it includes 1:1 coaching sessions, unlimited text support through the Telegram app, plus bonuses and goodies to help you every step of the way.

My clients have built exercise and creative habits, cleared years worth of clutter, launched businesses, and upgraded their careers with better paying jobs after we’ve worked together.

If leveling up your high sensitivity is on your priority list, whether that’s learning to manage your sensitivity or if you’re ready to start using it as the gift it is, head over to stephanielinn.com and book a free consultation call. I would love to support you in feeling more present, connected, and energized from your high sensitivity.

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