Your Purpose in Life, 3 Questions You Must Ask and Answer

“To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

We decide whether or not to fully elaborate ourselves, to fulfill our purpose.

We decide whether or not to fully elaborate ourselves, to fulfill our purpose.

Like most life changing moments, it crept up on me and totally grabbed me. It was the most miraculous event I’ve ever witnessed. I remember the moment it happened as if it was just now.

It was 1990 and I was a first year resident in family medicine on a surgical rotation. At three in the morning the head of the trauma department and transplant team paged me and asked if I would like to scrub in on a renal (kidney) transplant operation. “Absolutely!”, I said. I knew it would be a neat operation to assist on but nothing prepared me for what I was about to witness.

Scrubbed in, gowned up, ready and standing by the table in the operating theater I watched as the transplant surgeon carefully removed the donated kidney from a red and white six-pack cooler. I remember thinking how odd it is donated organs are transported in off the shelf drink coolers.

The kidney had belonged to a trauma victim. Donated at death it would now be used to improve and extend someone’s life, about as poetic an act of mercy as one can imagine.

The surgeon placed the kidney onto a sterile cloth covered tray and began to prepare it for transplantation. It was an ashen gray, well, kidney-shaped lump of tissue about the size of a small fist. The ureter, a tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder, extended from the kidney along with the renal artery and vein.

Using a pair of surgical forceps and scissors, he carefully picked away at the donor kidney removing any extraneous fat and fascia form the organ and its vessels. Even though kidney transplants are the most common and most successful organs transplanted, I was skeptical this gray lump of tissue was going to work. It didn’t look like it could. It didn’t look at all viable to me.

This activity went on what seemed like forever until finally he place the organ in a bath of cool saline and stood up. Mean while, the patient had arrived and was being transferred onto the operating table. I introduced myself and we chatted briefly before the anesthesiologist put her to sleep.

I still remember her name. She had been on the transplant list for a number of years. She had burned up both of her own kidneys through years of illicit drug abuse. The consequences for her were severe.

For her, the kidney transplant would be transformational. It would give her a chance to get off of dialysis and on to a new pathway of living. First, she had to demonstrate her willingness to protect this precious gift by protecting herself from the ravages of drugs and alcohol.

She had hit her rocky bottom and there she grabbed hold of hope and began to dream of a new life for herself. She was determined. For the past few years she had remained sober as she waited on the transplant list. I could see it in her eyes, the wide eyed look of a dreamer watching their dreams come true. I wished her luck.

With the patient prepped, under anesthesia and the organ prepared for transplant the surgeon was ready to begin. He started by creating a pocket in the lower right side of her abdomen where the transplanted kidney would be placed. I held a retractor and tried not to get in his way.

The surgeon identified the iliac artery and vein. First, he connected the kidney’s vein to the iliac vein and then the artery to the iliac artery. Both remained gently clamped. Then he connected the kidney’s ureter to the bladder.

His movements were slow, meticulous, deliberate. Every now and then he would point out something of interest within the surgical field or ask me a question. I was enjoying every minute of it and I thought to myself, it doesn’t get any better than this. I was wrong.

After the kidney had been properly placed and the vein, artery and ureter were securely connected he removed the clamp from the renal vein. He looked up at me over his surgical mask and glasses and said, “I want you to remove the arterial clamp.” I was elated. As I reached for the clamp he added, “When you do, be sure to watch the kidney closely.”

I ever so gently removed the arterial clamp, allowing blood to flow to the transplanted kidney for the first time in its new host. I never took my eyes off of the kidney. What happened next still gives me chill bumps.

Within seconds that non-descript, gray lump of tissue turned pink. Within a few seconds more it turned vermillion red. As I stood and stared, the ureter began to inflate as urine traveled down the ureter toward the bladder. In less than ten seconds after releasing the arterial clamp, this transplanted kidney was making urine. It was fulfilling its purpose.

Behind my surgical mask tears was welling from my eyes and streaming down my face. I couldn’t help it. It was miraculous. Even without the benefit of being in its ideal environment, the original host, the transplanted kidney had no trouble fully elaborating its intended purpose.

The donor kidney wasn’t trying to pump blood like the heart, it wasn’t trying to secrete thyroid hormone like the thyroid gland, it wasn’t trying to manufacture digestive enzymes like the pancreas. It was doing precisely what it was designed to do. Its innate inner structure dictated the outcome. It was all there, inside.

I believe all humans have an innate inner structure which determines a purpose to fulfill, just like the kidney. Unlike the kidney humans are different in one very important regard. We decide whether or not to fully elaborate ourselves, to fulfill our purpose. 

You can choose to ignore your inner calling. You can choose to set aside your unique set of natural talents and abilities and live life contrary to your purpose, never to realize or fulfill it. It is estimated ninety percent of people do just that.

Unfulfilled dreams, dead end jobs, toxic relationships, job related burnout, unrealized potential, fear of change, feelings of inadequacy, a scarcity mentality — these are just some of the results of people never pursuing their destiny, not the reasons why.

There is only one reason why. It isn’t because they can’t. It isn’t because they lack education, money, a lucky break, or don’t know the right people. It’s because they chose not to.

In The Alchemist, a book about destiny, dreams, dreamers, those who pursue them and those who don’t, Paulo Coelho writes —

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

If you feel you’re not fulfilling your intended purpose or feel you haven’t yet found your intended purpose, it is never too late to  pause, reflect and ask yourself a few simple questions —

  • Do I know my Life’s purpose?
  • Am I fulfilling my life’s purpose?
  • If not, why not?

The answers are all there, inside.

Have You Found Your Big WHY — 7 Reasons for Why Not

You will never live a life of passion and purpose if you are burned out, laboring away at a job which has no meaning for you.

Remember when you were a child and everything looked new and wonderful and imagined possibilities were endless?

Remember when you were a child and everything looked new and wonderful and imagined possibilities were endless?

I believe everyone would love to find their ultimate purpose in life, their purpose for being, doing what they feel most passionate about. Not everyone will. In fact, most do not. Only about 10 % do. Why?

I see people living their entire lives laboring away at work they don’t really enjoy, or even hate, but they will not make a change. So, they toil away. Sometimes angry, always resentful, passing time for some point way off in the future when happiness is supposed to be there waiting for them.

In the meantime, the chance for happiness only occurs 52 times a year, on the weekends, plus holidays? Is this the way life is supposed to be lived? 

Every year since 1987, The Conference Board has run a jobs satisfaction survey. In 2014, 52.3% of workers reported being unhappy with their work. Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace showed 70% of workers either hate their jobs or feel completely disengaged.

How did this happen? It happened innocently enough, at first. The onset was slow and insidious in the beginning. It accelerated when we became adults.

Remember when we were children and everything looked new and wonderful and imagined possibilities were endless? The dreams, oh the dreams we had, of faraway places in faraway lands where we led exciting lives doing what we felt we were meant to do.

Were those dreams stolen or did we give them away? Did we let go of them or did we set them aside? I believe I know.

Find Out If You Are Absorbed by Your Work Or A Workaholic

Both the absorbed worker and the workaholic have difficulty disengaging from work. The major difference is the underlying motivation.

What, then, is the difference between someone who is a bona fide workaholic and someone who is simply but tenaciously absorbed by what they do?

What is the difference between someone who is a bona fide workaholic and someone who is simply but tenaciously absorbed by what they do?

Everyone knows someone who is a workaholic. Perhaps that someone is you. Workaholics work very hard. They work long hours. They work and work and work to the exclusion of nearly all else in their life. What, then, is the difference between someone who is a bona fide workaholic and someone who is simply but tenaciously absorbed by what they do? If either one is healthy, which one? Can both be bad for you?

Work absorption is one of the three attributes or hallmarks of work engagement, the others being vigor and dedication. Workers totally absorbed by their work is what every employer wants. For the sake of work enjoyment, feeling absorbed by one’s work is what every employee wants.

If you are absorbed by your work, you are complete immersed in what you do. You love what you do. You can’t wait to do what you do. You are constantly and proudly telling other people, “Look at what I get to do!”

You are demonstrating to the world who you are by what you do because a large part of what you do is who you are.

While looking at someone who is completely absorbed by their work, it often becomes difficult to decide if they are working or if they are playing. When fully engaged in work a completely absorbed worker may have to be reminded to take a break, to eat or that it is time to go home. They have found happiness and contentment on the corner one of the main avenues of their life — meaningful work.

9 Unmistakable Signs of Employee Dedication You Need to Know

Dedicated, engaged employees are what every employer wants. Feeling engaged at work is what every employee wants.

Dedicated, engaged employees are what every employer wants. Feeling engaged at work is what every employee wants.

Ask any boss about hard working, key employees who drive their businesses forward and one of the words they will invariably use to describe them is dedicated. Dedication is an exceedingly strong feeling of support and loyalty for something or someone. To run any successful enterprise you must have available, and be able to depend upon, dedicated employees.

Dedication is one of three attributes or hallmarks of worker engagement, the other two being vigor and absorption. Engaged employees are what every employer wants. Feeling engaged  at work is what every employee wants. To feel engaged while on-the-job is to love one’s work. 

On fire, purpose driven, dedicated employees are often the first to show up and the last to leave work. Sometimes, they have to be reminded to quit working and go home. It is hard for them to break away, they love what they do so much.

This isn’t because they are workaholics or toiling long hours out of fear for losing their jobs. They genuinely love what they do. At the beginning of every work day they are anxious to get started. They feel energized by what they do. They feel they are making a difference. On some fundamental level, they are the difference. Have you ever felt this way about your work?

Here are 9 unmistakable signs of employee dedication:

The One Thing You Must Have that Shows You Love Your Work

If this one thing is missing, it is a sure sign you are either burning out or already burned out at your job.

If you are burned out at work chances are you feel a lack of energy and drive.

If you are burned out at work chances are you feel a lack of energy and drive.

If you are burned out at work chances are you feel a lack of energy and drive. In fact, the only drive you may have is just to survive the workday, or to hold on until the weekend. The lack of emotional energy in job related burnout often translates to physical exhaustion as well. Can you relate?

Have you seen people who genuinely enjoy their work and seem to have all the energy in the world for their job? If this is how you feel about your job then that’s awesome. You’ve probably found your true passion and are fulfilling your purpose in life.

You are in the zone. You don’t feel at all like you are laboring or slaving away at your work. Instead, you feel light and energetic as you make steady progress toward completing tasks. You are producing more than ever before and you feel 100% engaged. If you had to describe this in one word it might be vigor.

Vigor is an inner drive, a feeling of active strength with a healthy sense of mental and physical power. When you have vigor you feel completely vital and you approach work activity with an energetic intensity or force. 

Vigor is one of the three hallmarks of work engagement – vigor, dedication and absorption – attributes precisely opposite of job burnout. Individuals who are engaged will: