Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pathways of Purpose

By Peg McQuarrie, ACC Certified Professional Coach

Some individuals know from a very early age what they are meant to do and who they are meant to be.  Others can take a lifetime wondering “what am I here for?”  Others may walk a path for years and realize that something new is calling them.  Wherever you are on this journey, it can be illuminating to reflect on your purpose and calling from time to time.

Curt Buermeyer, Ph.D. has defined purpose as “that which you are uniquely capable or suited to do, which creates true value for the world, and enhances your personal energy, sense of meaning and fulfillment in life.”   In his website he lists a number of examples of individual purpose:
·         To bring out the best in people
·         To create
·         To inspire others to achieve great things
·         To explore
·         To be an amazing father and husband or mother and wife
·         To teach
·         To make a meaningful difference
·         To leave the world a better place
·         To help others

There are many paths available to us that point us toward our “true north.”  With an open mind, an open heart, and a bit of patience, our purpose and calling can reveal itself.  If your life is feeling stale, if you’ve lost your sense of direction, take time to reconnect with your authentic yearnings.  

Path of Remembrance
The Path of Remembrance calls you to examine the stages of your life – early childhood to your teen and young adult years to middle age to your elder years – and to remember early influences, wants and needs.  First remembrances and initial responses are best.  Notice any surprises or memories you’d forgotten along the way.  Pay attention to how your memories make you feel about yourself.  Notice where you feel whole; notice where you feel proud of your accomplishments. 

1.    How did you have fun as a child?  How did you pretend and play?

2.    What were you most curious about?

3.    What were your dreams for the future?

4.    What do your early jobs tell you about yourself?

5.    What contributions have you made that bring you pride and a sense of accomplishment?  

6.    Which experiences have you been drawn to?  Which have you resisted?

7.    What did you want to experience that you did not have the time or resources for? 

8.    What strengths and gifts did you demonstrate through each phases of life?  Which can you do without?  Which do you still enjoy?

Path of Passion
This path examines your willingness to be open and vulnerable to life, to fully experience the good with the bad, and to connect with inspiration and to your fire within.  Notice what drives you and how you may choose to numb yourself against certain elements in your life.  As you answer these questions, pay close attention to anything that stirs up your energy and lifts your spirit.  Notice any sensations in your body, sit with them, and listen for what they might be telling you.

1.    What are you yearning for?

2.    What are you reaching for?

3.    What are you most curious about?

4.    What fills your heart with delight?  When are you at your happiest?

5.    What limits your passion?  What liberates it?

6.    What people, places, events, situations give you energy?

7.    What can't you live without?

8.    If you were completely free, what would you do?

Path of Legacy
The Path of Legacy takes an end-of-life perspective.  These questions can be difficult for those who fear or deny death, but can yield a powerful, intuitive punch if you have the courage and curiosity to go there.  Notice the dreams you see play out and any feelings of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, pride, or regrets that may arise.

1.    Imagine yourself at the age of 90 with decades of life experience and wisdom to share.  What advice would 90-year-old-you give to you today?

2.    What do you want friends and relatives to say about you when you are gone?

3.    Write your eulogy.  Fill it with plenty of details and color.  Who were you?  What did you do and accomplish?  What impact did you have? 

4.    “As you live each day, so you live your life.”  What does this quote mean to you?  What “yes” needs to be said each day to create the legacy that you want?  What “no” could make the difference?

5.    What legacy do you want to leave your children?  Your profession?  Your community?  Your world?

6.    Imagine leading your life with a fearless heart.  What would that be like?

Path of Conviction
This path examines your level of conviction and readiness to risk it all to live your purpose.  Whether we admit it or not, we sometimes like the idea of something more than the thing itself.  This is an important truth to face because any purpose worth pursuing will require dedication and a willingness to endure challenges, failures, and difficulties.  Consider these questions and notice if they pull you toward your dreams or create a resistance.

1.    How deeply do you believe in yourself and in what you want to create?

2.    What are you wanting to contribute?  What do you expect in return?

3.    What price are you willing to pay?

4.    What might you have to give up or change?

5.    What stands in your way?  How might you overcome these obstacles and challenges?

6.    Do you have the courage to take risks and make mistakes?  How do you know?

7.    What happens when the going gets tough?

8.    Are you willing to face failure and begin again?  What opportunity does failure offer you?

Spend some quiet time journaling around these questions or form a small group with friends and share your thoughts openly.  Read a book about purpose and calling.  I’m happy to recommend Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy.  Most important of all – keep it fun!

About the Author:
Peg McQuarrie is a certified professional coach and the owner of WellSprings Consulting.  Her passion is to support others as they step into the successful, meaningful, authentic lives they are meant to live!  For almost 20 years, she has helped individuals and work groups maximize their potential and achieve personal, business, and organizational success.  Her services include individual coaching, specialized coaching for facilitators, team coaching for work groups, and organizational consulting.
Peg earned her Masters in Education from Northern Arizona University and received her coach training through the Adler School of Professional Coaching.  She is certified by the International Coach Federation.   Learn more at or check out her page on LinkedIn.

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