“We’re letting you go.” As I walked out of my senior pastor’s office, I couldn’t believe it was all over. I had only been a student pastor for 5 months. The new pastor had only been there 2 weeks. I hadn’t even been given a chance. This was supposed to be my purpose in life. I had spent years searching for my purpose and this was it. What was I supposed to do with my life now?
I applied to a few job opening and got nowhere. I had been blackballed from ministry (or so I felt). Everything I had worked for was gone.
So what do you do when you feel lost and your purpose is stripped away from you or you just can’t seem to find your purpose…?
You sit down on your kitchen floor with a bottle of cheap wine from Target and cry.
Okay sure, but after that, what do you do?
Here’s the deal, looking for your purpose feels really high stakes. The idea that you have this one sole purpose or destiny to fulfill in life is terrifying!
What if you never figure out what that one thing is? What if you figure out what your purpose or destiny is but for one reason or another, it gets stripped away from you? What? Suddenly you have no purpose in life?
Babe, your purpose is more than a $100 bill wedged in the bottom of an old winter coat that can eventually be found or stay lost forever.
What if the idea of a life-long purpose or a singular destiny was a myth?
Allow me to explain.
Growing up, we were told that our brains stop changing and developing around the age of 25. Essentially, we lose neuroplasticity once we hit our mid-20s. If this is true, then it would make sense that just like our brains don’t change after 25ish, then our purpose/destiny would stay the same too.
However, we now know that the neuroplasticity of our brains lasts throughout our entire lifetime. Even when we hit mid-life, our brains still have the ability to grow, change, and develop. If continue to change and evolve over a lifetime, then why in the world would we expect our purpose to stay the same?
So if we ditch the idea of purpose and destiny, what are we left with? How do we figure out what to do with our lives?
We trade purpose for what I call Core Pillars.
Core Pillars are similar to Core Values but they focus more on positive, prevalent themes in your life. They are a system that give us guidance as to what should and shouldn’t be in our lives. Core Pillars help keep us grounded to who we authentically are and keep us from feeling lost in the world. These pillars are unique to us and can last a lifetime.
Now, how do we find our Core Pillars?
The process is pretty simple.
Close your eyes and visualize yourself as an elementary school kid. Ask Elementary School You these questions…
- What were you naturally good at?
- What did others tell you that you were good at?
- What did you enjoy doing? What would you do if you could spend all day doing it?
- What felt fun?
- What felt important to you?
- What felt aligned with you?
Write down whatever comes up.
Ask yourself the same 6 questions at the following stages of life…
- Middle school
- High school
- Early post-grad life
- Ages 22-25
- Ages 26-30
- Ages 31-35
You can break this up by ages or seasons of life. Keep going until you get to your current age or season of life.
Go through and look for a throughline or connecting themes. These are your Core Pillars.
Core Pillars Example:
One of my core values is growth. Growing up, I loved academics. I was a star student in gifted and honors classes. In elementary school, it was Ancient Egyptian and Greek history. Once in middle school and high school, it was science, graphic design, and theology. I even went to academic summer camps.
Once in college, I became a University Fellow who loved philosophy, religion, and storytelling. After college, I ditched the philosophy and took up personal growth and professional development.
Another one of my values is creativity and creating. In elementary school, I loved building with Legos. Heck, I still do! I loved creating Pinewood Derby cars with my dad. Was I good at it? Absolutely! I placed in the top 4 every year. Eventually, I got into carving wooden boats to float down the drainage gutters after big storms.
Once I got older, my creativity turned digital, as I became a filmmaker and graphic designer. Was I good at filmmaking? Eh, I was decent. Was I good at graphic design? Absolutely. But I enjoyed both. Now, I work in marketing and get to use my skills as a writer and graphic designer every week.
What do you do after you find your Core Pillars?
Start using them! If you find 4 Core Pillars, figure out how to incorporate at least 2 of them into your weekly life. The more you can incorporate them into your life, the better.
Not sure how to use them? Just get curious! Try new stuff. If you like it, great! Keep doing it. If you don’t like it, stop and do something different.
Ask yourself “what feels fun today?” Then, go and do that!