Five Questions – to define your life’s present purpose

White Maiden doll and textile detail
Some of my work

I’m starting a new intermittent series of Creativity Blasts, intended to focus more on the internal work of creativity, perhaps less on the expression of creativity.

It’s called “Five Questions” and it should be a good work along topic for me. Remember that one of the descriptions of this blog is ideas “from a practitioner”. The blog itself continues to be a helpful practice for my own creative growth, so I hope this series will enhance everyone’s experience of the CB blog.

Anyhoo, I thought why not start with a bang and work on the really big topic first, and everything else will be easy.

The first issue is the verb here. I’m choosing “Define”.

I could have used “Choose” but that implies that you already have laid out a bunch of options and the 5Q’s might distill down to a pros & cons list. I love pros & cons lists for quantifying alternatives. They work especially well when you are determining how money will be spent.

But for life’s present purpose there may be more ideas you haven’t thought of yet. These 5Q’s are not a quiz or a test or anything that might engender anxiety of “wrong”.

I might have said “Discover” – that is also a nice idea. However my plan for this topic is for you (and I) to be more pro-active and empowered. The life’s present purpose is not separate from us; it is integral to us. It is something we can enact, willfully & intentionally.

So I hope the questions will lead towards creating an action plan.

There’s no hurry.

Consider too, that these questions are not for quick fix type answers. They aren’t one word or even short answer questions. You may find that some have you writing pages and pages in your journal, or drifting off into daydreams for hours, or drawing/collaging.

You may discover plenty as you go, and you will make choices too, but the end game is to “Define” your life’s present purpose.

Here’s the meaning of Define from Merrian-Webster:

  • to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)
  • to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely
  • to show the shape, outline, or edge of (something) very clearly

Twice the definition includes “clearly”.

So let’s try shall we?

1. Who do you love?

It’s important to me that my work and creative activities are placed in the context of my family life and the people around me that I love.

You might also consider who you admire – people who have been inspiring.

2. What brings you joy?

This is the “favorite activities” question, but also a results oriented question. There might be parts of your life that bring you great joy, that are not specifically the result of your actions. You might watch the sunset but you didn’t create it. But allowing time for sunsets might be a big part of your present purpose.

3. What is in your way?

There might be practical barriers preventing your from following that which brings you the most joy. Or they might be emotional.

Anger and fear may be in your way. Many people don’t like anger. It’s not pleasant to experience. But it also can be a great catalyst, especially toward philanthropic action.

Much has been written about Anger as being a psychological defense for the vulnerability of fear, or a mask for fears. Naming your fears – of rejection, failure, embarrassment, loss – will help you overcome them.

4. Who is watching you?

For the last 14 years how I react and conduct myself has been influenced by knowing that my daughter is watching me. She will learn how to handle disappointment from seeing me try and fail. I hope she will learn to follow her dreams by seeing me pursue my own.

Always watching
Always watching

5. What first step can you take towards your purpose today?

It might be that your present purpose is to be still and quiet, to ready yourself for the future when your current responsibilities have been fulfilled. I have often felt that way as the mother of a young child – that there were things that could wait. She was my focus.

It might be that your present purpose is to make a difference in the world with ideas and your example.

It might be that your present purpose is to study something, or make something, or write something, or be on a team in an endeavor. I don’t know – but it starts today, and is only for now. Whatever you define as your life’s present purpose is only for now.

Don’t feel that you should lock yourself into a course of action that lasts forever. People will have many different lives in time.

In sports, people reach their peak very early. You have to move on. I don’t know if I will ever surpass what I did at the Olympics, but I’m still doing the work I always wanted to do. ~ Greg Louganis

Take your time.

Good luck!