My tween has been thinking a lot (too much) about her life purpose…as in her LIFE purpose. That makes me really evaluate where I am in my mid-life purpose (read “crisis”). My first reaction is to tell her to stop thinking about it and go play. Then I take a deep breath and see the emergence of a very young woman looking back at me. My gut reaction to this question is simple. Love others. Done. Life purpose complete. But, this didn’t quite satisfy her. Time went on and the question came back. While I still personally stick to the love answer, I realized something.
We’re asking the wrong question. The question isn’t “What’s my life purpose?” That’s too stressful. The question is simply “How can I be purposeful today?” Tweet this!
Kids need to grow up hearing about the MANY…MILLIONS….of purposes they will have in their lives. Being purposeful is organic and ever-changing. When we ask “How can I be purposeful today?” we can think of specific answers…contributions…reasons…even timelines to be purposeful. We have more control with being purposeful each day instead of swimming in daily uncertainty if we are progressing with one life purpose. Some days we all rock out some purpose. Other days we’re slugs. That’s normal. The slug days have their own purpose. Rest. Recharge. Reboot. Slugs are slow but they are still moving. Slime and all.
Purposeful may feel big one day and minuscule the very next morning. Purposeful may take the shape of changing someone’s life or just changing the trash to help the good of the home. Purposeful may be looking out for a new kid at school only to give space when he/she is connecting with a different group of friends. The coolest part of living a purposeful life vs living out one life purpose, is the power to define and redefine and grow and change and well, be human…aka…less pressure.
While we’re rethinking questions…I’ve always cringed when little kids are asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Can we all agree to save that for high schoolers? Instead let’s ask, “What are your hobbies?” or “What makes you laugh?” or “Tell me how you’ve been kind or helpful today” or, if they’re feeling adventurous, maybe talk goals for the quarter or grade level. Goals are good, career choices at age 8 are not. When our kids are asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, let’s help them find bigger, more purposeful answers….”happy, loved, kind, wise…etc” or “I’m exploring my options”.
Parenting is tough for 9,377 reasons….one of which is teaching our kids to not only ask questions, but ask the best questions. And, to not be afraid to change their question when the answers just don’t feel right. Most answers are not a one size fits all…neither are the questions.
Whether you are parenting or grandparenting or mentoring or sistering or friending, pay attention to the questions you are asking others and the questions you are asking yourself. If there’s a question bugging you, like my daughter, consider modifying your question and see where it leads you.
With much love and a little sluggishness,