7 Myths About Finding Your Purpose

by Amy Steinberg Published Jan 24, 2018 Last updated Jan 24, 2018

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why.” Some of us find our purpose very young, while others spend years obsessing about what we were meant to do. Our longing for something more, a larger sense of direction, a purpose, can aid in pursuing our dreams, or can be exactly what stands in our way toward achieving goals.

Purpose, defined as the underlying reasons behind our choices, our goals, and our behaviors, drives much of what we do. However, it is important that we don’t mistake burning passion or inspired mission for our purpose. Think about these myths and make sure you aren’t letting any of them get in the way of your success.

  1. Purpose is destiny, decided when you are young.

You may feel called to do something when you are very young and stick with it, or you might change your mind ten times throughout your life. The important thing is that you use your purpose to discover who you truly are and use it to redirect yourself when you feel you have lost your way.

  1. You can make a mistake that means you cannot find your purpose.

There are big mistakes and big failures that are worth acknowledging as such. That being said, they shouldn’t be seen as moments we have broken our purpose. If anything, those who have experienced mistakes and failures have a better understanding of their purpose and the best way to leverage it for success.

  1. You have only one purpose.

As humans it is innate that we will change, we will evolve. Our life is fluid and we should embrace it. This isn’t inconsistent, but rather a sign of how beautifully dynamic and interesting human beings are. If you change courses after having pursued a purpose headlong, it does not negate anything you have accomplished so far.

  1. People “just know” what their purpose is.

Some people seem to just know what their purpose is, but many of us aren’t always sure. We have doubts, and because of those doubts, we sometimes change. However, knowing that there are many people out there still waiting, wanting, searching, and hoping for their purpose to reveal itself makes us feel less alone in the journey.

  1. My purpose is insignificant compared to the important ones.

We know this isn’t true, even if we feel it so acutely when we feel as though we are having a small impact. The truth is, you must think about this myth the way you would think about a close friend or a child: would you ever call someone else’s purposes and plans insignificant? Never. We cannot know how one small thing will impact many large things, and to shut all the doors on the future by calling someone’s purpose insignificant is to assume we can see the future.

  1. Knowing your purpose makes hard work easy.

Hard work, unfortunately, remains hard work even if it is exactly what you were meant to do. People talk about finding their “sweet spot” or their purpose in life and act as if things were smooth sailing after that. The reality is that there will be highs and lows, especially if you’ve found the challenge that most excites you.

  1. Your purpose and your career goals are the same thing.

We talk about purpose in regards to work a lot, but having career goals and having a life purpose aren’t always the same thing. Ideally, they overlap in some ways, but you can choose a practical and rewarding career and still pursue things you find even more valuable on the side.