How to Live with Purpose

Measuring the distance between living, giving, and making meaning

It is the soul and curse of the Enneagram 8 to not only know how to live with purpose, but to be unable to avoid it. Having done all I can to resist this label, I have eventually just given in — I have a calling to help others.

Helping feels like purpose: it makes one feel as if they’ve made a good use of their time, treasures, and talents. It rarely does not feel like the right decision.

And even as the purpose of my life (primarily) these last 12 years has been to care for my kids and keep my family moving in some direction, there still seems to be time to give away.

Yes. There are always seems to be to-do and to-buy lists from social workers and food pantries and nonprofits. The call for volunteers goes down like a bottomless cup of hot coffee on a cold morning.

I have been helping, but I can’t seem to get done helping.

The Year of Covid reminds me: find a still place within myself. Allow there to be some narrowing. Slow it down. Be with it, whatever it is.

E. Howard “Letters from Home”

I want to know: can I find a way to be consistent in my outreach. A way that checks the box for the unknown receiver — but also serves me?

What are my needs? The trauma of parenting has blocked that out.

What are my needs? But, the Year of Covid has quieted the noise, reduced distractions.

What are my needs? In order to live at all this year, this is the only question to answer.

Misunderstanding the Meaning of Purpose

In the journey to learning “how to live with purpose” a person can easy find themselves fairly wrung out. Especially if one misinterprets “purpose” with giving everything away to others.

The idea of purpose feels so external — as if the work we do has have meaning to anyone else to be meaningful.

Perhaps the better interpretation of living with purpose is to “follow one’s passion.” Remove the implication that a life has to have some societal intrinsic value.

Let each of us find our true calling — the gift of our hearts — then drop far down into its work and honor it.

But all of this is avoiding the question: what will I do in the coming year to live this way?

This means more writing, then and:

  • More focused writing.
  • More editing and paring down.
  • More submitting.
  • Quality time dedicated to moving my fingers.
  • To be thinking and writing in my own way
  • Refining my voice.

Sharing thoughts, telling stories. Posting. Writing in journals. Collaging with words and images, if that fits the mood.

Putting myself in isolation, so that I can fall back into the feel of writing, let myself drop down into the work of it.

Isolation Journals New Year Challenge Day 2

Prompt: Write about living with purpose. Write about the ways you do already, and the ways you hope to in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.