Photo credit: Annie Spratt,

Recently,  I read an article advising readers to “stop looking for a purpose as to why you are here.” Instead, the article told us we should “create our own purpose” because “life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation.”

The power behind that sentiment is palpable. The notion that we can create our own lives is seductive. However, as someone who has spent much of her life operating in a ‘Ready-Shoot-Aim’ mode, I have come to realize there must be a purpose for the creation of an action. To act without purpose is not empowering; it’s pointless. Similarly, to sit on the sidelines of life trying to discover your purpose without taking any action is, well, purposeless!

Every action has a purpose despite the fact that we aren’t always sure exactly what that is.  

Ritual reflection is required in order to discover what that purpose might be.  I like to use the solitude of my car during my daily commute or the solace of an empty Church on Sunday mornings to think. It’s often in that cushion of silence that I find the answers to the questions causing me discomfort.

Sometimes, though, that’s not enough. Like the external world, occasionally my thoughts are so loud I can’t hear them. I lose sight of my purpose and stand paralyzed in indecision. In those instances, I need a prompt to help me focus.

I grab one of my favorite inspirational books — anything from Catcher in the Rye to Who Moved My Cheese? to The Giving Tree to the Bible. I open to a random page and just begin reading. Slowly. My goal is not to analyze or to even understand the text. Instead, I read until a word or a phrase jumps out at me. Sometimes the text reveals an answer to my struggle de jour like a thunderbolt; most times it is more subtle. Next, I say the word or phrase out loud a few times, considering what clues it is offering me for self-discovery to prompt an action.

Pay attention to the signs.

Sometimes the text reveals an answer to my “struggle de jour” like a thunderbolt. Yet, most times it’s more subtle. Next, I say the word or phrase out loud a few times, considering what clues it’s offering me for self-discovery (a.k.a.  to prompt an action).

Interestingly, as a result of incorporating this process of ritual reflection into my life, I’ve been struck by how often the words I need to help me create an action — supported by my purpose — are revealed to me when I least expect it. It can come in the form of an email, a Hallmark card, or a billboard.

Pay attention to the words and phrases designed to reveal your purpose; they will provide the fuel needed to create the life you were born to live.