Day-in and day-out, I talk to people living with ADHD who want to find their life purpose. The reason, goal or motivation that will be the answer to them experiencing a fulfilling and satisfying life. It’s universal to want to have a sense of meaning in our lives and feel as if we are making a valuable contribution.
For persons with ADHD, this is especially important because what we are passionate about truly contains the answers to what will hold our attention and interest. When something holds our attention and interest we are more likely to experience success and feel happier. The positive experience of success and happiness then spills over to positively influence other areas of our ADHD lives.
The problem is that many of us are not really sure what a life purpose is and where or how to find it. Like trying to find a needle in a haystack, we can easily miss the opportunity to experience the satisfaction that expressing a life of purpose can provide.
Below are five myths about life purpose that once you let go of will open the way for you to identify your life purpose right away.
Myth #1 Your Life Purpose is Your Job
This is one of the more common mistaken ideas that I tackle first when I talk to someone with ADHD who wants to find their life purpose. Why is this myth about life purpose so pervasive? I think it’s because we live in an increasingly work/job focused world that doesn’t teach us that there is a difference between our life purpose and what we do to earn a living. In fact, they are commonly two totally distinct things.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely possible to integrate your life purpose into your work. I have been lucky enough to have been able to create this for myself and I know many other ADHD coaches who experience the same. HOWEVER, when people feel stuck and struggle to identify their purpose, it’s often because they’ve come to think of their career, work or job as the place in which they’ll find their purpose. Or, it’s the reverse. People try to find their life purpose through the process of expanding their career and end up being tremendously frustrated. Either way it just does not work.
Solution #1: Allow yourself the possibility to see your life purpose and your job as separate things. Ask yourself: “Am I trying to trying to figure out my life purpose or my next best job move?”
Myth #2 Your Life Purpose Can Only Be One Thing
Because people with ADHD can often confuse their job with their life purpose, they can fall into the trap of thinking their purpose is one specific thing.
Remember being asked what we wanted to be when we grew up? With our ADHD out-of-the-box thinking we might have said things like: “I want to be an astronaut…and a lion tamer” or “I want to be a queen… and a fireman.” Or, if you were like my youngest son at the age of five, you wanted to be Santa Claus… and a hammer! As adults, when we think about life-purpose, we mistakenly focus on a single outcome and forget about the numerous possibilities we embraced when we were young. A purpose-driven life often includes a number of options and many of them will be equally satisfying.
Solution #2 Don’t try and narrow things down too soon. Be curious as to why a certain idea appeals to you and remember to stay open to multiple possibilities.
Myth #3 You Must Find Your Life Purpose Before You Start Living It
Oh, the conundrum this mistaken myth creates in our ADHD lives! Our life purpose is closely connected to what we love doing most. What we are innately good at. This means that when we are doing what we love, doing what we are good at rather than struggling to do the things we are not good at, we are already taking our steps along the path towards our purpose. This means that we don’t need to wait for anything, nor find anything else, to be living our purpose. All we need to do is remember what we love to do, what we are good at, and do it as often as possible.
Solution #3 Do more of what you are naturally good at and love to do.
Myth #4 Only a Fortunate Few Live Their Life Purpose
This myth is a trap that keeps so many of us with ADHD from experiencing the satisfaction of living our purpose. It may be true that fewer people are able to enjoy a job that also integrates their life purpose. However, when we recognize that our life purpose is a combination of what we care most about, what’s important to us, what we love to do, and what we value, it becomes clear that anyone, especially someone with ADHD, always has the option to live their life purpose in some way everyday.
Solution #4 Remember what you care most about, what you love to do, and what you value the most and be sure to include these in your everyday life.
Myth #5 You Should Be Able to Figure It Out On Your Own
It may seem that as personal and unique as life purposes can be, that we should be able to figure out our life purpose on our own, right?
Because it’s so personal, so close to us, we can have a difficult time seeing our life purpose because it’s so closely connected to who we are. It’s a bit like that saying about how it’s difficult to see the forest through the trees. When people come to me looking to find their life purpose it may be difficult for them to see the bigger picture. Using my coaching skills, I am able to ask questions that will reveal the answers to them. And when I reflect back their responses, an interesting thing happens. More often than not clients have an “Aha” moment where they finally see what their purpose is all about.
Solution #5 Don’t go purpose hunting on your own. Find the support you need! Outside eyes and ears trained to tune into listening to your truth can help you see the answers within yourself.
Everyone has a purpose and with the innate talents and unique strengths so common to persons with ADHD, it’s just a matter of discovering yours. So, if you’ve been purpose hunting and coming up empty, it’s time to de-myth your thinking and consider these solutions.