purpose is not “the thing” you do, it is within you

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Many people are searching for “the thing” that is their purpose.

But the truth is, we bring our purpose to the things we do.

For example, how could we possibly pin down the purpose of Benjamin Franklin? 

Was his purpose simply to be a writer? 





Founding Father?





Or father?

Could we pin only one of those roles to his chest and call it “his purpose?”


His purpose did not exist in the things he did.

It came from within himself, applied to whatever he happened to be doing to serve others in that moment. 

Our purpose is not in the things we do. 

It is within ourselves, and fused to the things we do when we give ourselves fully to the task at hand right now.

Want to know what to do next? 

Ask your gut what it is calling you to do. 

Then, give yourself fully to that task. 

Once you hear another call, follow it. 

Allow your life to be fantastically full of variety, or soulfully stuck to one simple path.

Whichever the case, realize that purpose is not “the thing” you do, it is within you.


This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Amye Mae

    This is such a great concept to share. Thank you for framing it so clearly and accessibly!

    I really like thinking about purpose in this fashion. Helps to take the pressure off “finding your purpose” and focus more on the values you bring to each situation.

    1. Jess Lively

      Amen! Exactly.

      I think a lot of people are searching for their purpose “out there” in the idea that there is something, some role, that they want to define themselves by via the word “purpose.” But that is never the case.

      It’s within us, and brought to what we do in the present moment. Always.

  2. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen purpose summed up in such a simple, short, but profound way. Something about this way of looking at it totally sticks with me. Sharing this in my newsletter today! So good, Jess!

    1. Jess Lively

      Thank you for sharing it in your newsletter, Natalie! I’m glad it hit home for you. : )

  3. Amy

    This is such a simple and profound distinction, yet so easily overlooked in a world where we have all been “Oprah-tized” into “following our bliss.” I know that I myself struggle with finding my “purpose” as if it is going to be revealed to me in a singular and spectacular epiphany, (the “Aha!” moment). This is a great post, Jess!

  4. Michelle

    Yes! This speaks to me right now. I have been thinking a lot about
    purpose lately, and what my next step is, and this has really helped me
    to think about it in a different way. Time to start listening to my gut!

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