Why are you here? What's your purpose?
I believe we all have a life purpose and it’s not knowing this that’s the biggest reason for feeling ‘empty’ inside, and bored with our lives, in spite of externally having achieved and attaining everything we ever wanted in life.
Read on to find out about my story, the 45 minute call that changed my life, and how I think discovering your purpose will change yours.
**The article below is taken from a transcript of an interview during which I answered questions from the organiser and audience of marketing professionals in London (full video version on my YouTube site Change Your Life in Five).
So Sue, what’s your life purpose?
I discovered and defined mine 10 years ago, and it has developed over the years. Put very basically, I am here to show people that they always have a choice, whatever the situation, whatever's going on in your life, that you always have a choice as to how you think, feel, or respond to it. At a deeper level, most of us are running our lives and making vital career decisions based on old conditioning, i.e. what we are brought up to believe, think we should do, can't do, have to do, and these become our set of ‘rules for life’.
What I'm about is showing people and revealing tools and techniques that will help you break through all of that - to discover what you really want to do, what’s right for you – no one else. What’s truly right for you is often really scary and feels impossible, but actually, if it is scary, it's a good sign that you are stepping out of all of that conditioning, and that this is exactly what it right for you.
How did you get to that?
I was in a bad way and actually the darkest days of my life. I had an 18 month old at home, I had just had a disastrous return to work, had been signed off with anxiety and depression, and was also in a very unhappy relationship. Out of sheer desperation I had a life coaching session, and within that forty five minute phone call my (soon to be) coach took me from a place of deep hopelessness to a place of possibility and feeling that I could change things.
Through my own experience and consequent training, and a very useful exercise, I discovered that I wanted to bring this to others, and that what was the most important aspect of it was what had happened to me in that session – that it showed me there was a way out, that there was a different way, it gave me possibility and hope, but also the tools to move forward.
Do you think we've all got a sense of ourselves our values and purpose, even if we don't really understand what they are or we can't articulate them?
No I don't think we all have a sense of them at all. When I get to see people, they usually don't have any sense of them, and that's why they often feel unhappy or unfulfilled in their lives. They don’t know why or what to do about it because of that, and exactly because they are not honouring their values and purpose – why they truly are and what they stand for. I occasionally come across someone who is getting there, who has started doing what they love, but usually on the side, in their spare time, and this is because of what I said earlier, that we’ve been told we have to do it ‘this way’, finding out what’s right for you as a unique individual is not taught in schools, we don't know about values or purpose, it’s just not on the curriculum.
So your purpose is something you have to work on to get to?
I think for all of us it's there within us, we just haven't discovered it yet, because we have been so busy with life and living it as we have been conditioned to live it. Often, some people do know; I was speaking to someone earlier today, and she clearly has a sense of her purpose, hasn't really clarified it, but is very driven, compelled, and passionate about something; feels a deep urge to do something, but it hasn't been clarified and she’s still doing it as a ‘hobby’.
Is the alternative to having a strong sense of purpose that you drift through life? And, if so, what's wrong with that?
Hey, if you're happy and fulfilled, go for it. If your thing is to drift and you connect with people and you contribute and you do all of that through the drifting, good on you. Good for you.
But for most people, there is something that is not fulfilled within them, they don't know why, and they don’t know what to do about it – and that’s painful for them on a daily basis. I aim to take away that pain.
Do you find that your purpose changes at the different life stages you're at in life? Do you find that within your clients, it's actually as they get older that maybe they lose that sense of purpose?
I think intrinsically, it's actually the same. It might manifest in different ways, and I think that as you get older, you're more compelled to look into it because all of your old conditioning, all of what you're told you should be doing is kind of running out of steam and you're getting a bit fed up of it and it's holding you back. That's when people generally look at it.
But I think underneath, it generally is the same throughout your life, but that you manifest it in different ways, different ways that you'd go about it.
Recently, I made quite a big change. I've spent years working towards working in London, being in London. I studied to be here, and now I've made a big life change to go home and be with my family. When do you know when to make those big changes?
I always get people to check in with the questions:
- “How is this serving me in my life?”
- “Is it truly (deep down connecting with your gut instinct) what I want to do?” (versus what you think you should do / have to do / can’t do)
- “If I was being really brave, what would be the choice?”
Because usually it's fear that holds you back, and fear is just the Limbic part of your brain, the Amygdala, just keeping you in your comfort zone to keep you alive. It doesn't care about your purpose, your vision, your values, what you truly want in life, it's just meant to keep you physically safe and alive.
So I would say ask yourself those questions. “How is this serving me doing this?”, “If I was being brave, what would be the decision?”, and check in with your gut (neuroscientists have proven it is always right).
If you have this life purpose and you're clear about it and you're living that thing, does it help with making decisions like that?
Absolutely. Everything becomes a lot clearer and it's a great compass point. But also, the best bit about it is it just feels really good. When you're living your purpose, it just feels good.
I've got to 47 and it's the first time anyone's actually given me any insight on decision making. You know these old ways of working, you rode your path, there are certain things which you're supposed to do, you're supposed to get married, you're supposed to have children, you're supposed to do this, you're supposed to do that.
Absolutely. And what's also interesting, for everybody, all of us, is that those opinions, those beliefs about what you should do, the route you should take, were all given by people from a previous generation. A lot of what they know and their knowledge is from the Industrial Age or a different era, if my Dad had his way, I'd work for Lincolnshire County Council or I would have joined the Army. Nothing wrong with either of those paths – for him, at that time – but that just wasn't for me. But if I'd listened to that, that's what I'd be living. We all have it, we have all been told how things should be.
What I’m saying is, you might want to start questioning that.
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About Sue Belton
Sue Belton is an Executive and Life Coach who works with people who feel unsatisfied with their lives and careers. She helps them get clarity about what will make them truly happy and fulfilled and then helps them create more meaningful lives. Sue has been working as a coach for 10 years.