What is your life’s purpose?
All voices are heard…
Possibilities are explored…
And hearts sing.
How are you living your purpose?
First, I believe we’ve got to look at ourselves, as ghastly as that is sometimes.
Am I expressing my voice?
Am I listening to other’s voices?
Am I exploring possibilities?
Where am I limiting myself or others?
Is my heart singing?
I have a constant supply of markers and sketchbooks at the ready to mind map, to journal, to inquire, to reflect, in an effort to, as my friend says, live my purpose more and more reliably.
And I have friends and colleagues on speed dial who will call me out, who will ask the questions I can’t see to ask. I work to understand the whys. Then I work to take action and make changes. I say, work, because it’s not always easy to take action when my fears flare up. (I doubt a lot, I binge on Netflix, and I take naps.) Then, try again in the morning. I do this so I am able to have a vibrant human experience, to love and life fully. It’s working.
Second, I look to cultivate conversations—with anyone I interact with—that explore possibilities, share our unique gifts, and tap into our fullest expression of ourselves. It doesn’t matter who is in front of me, I’m listening for possibility. I’m listening to their story. I’m listening for what makes their heart sing. And I try to ask questions. I get curious about them. I’m always looking to fall in love.
Unless I’m ready to check out, go home, and get into my pajamas. Then I allow myself the R &R, and try again in the morning.
Third, I tell stories. We learn from stories, we grow from stories—from others’ stories and our own. As an author, I write to understand not just myself, but the world, social structures, other people. I write to find empathy and compassion, to love. Writing is one way to love.
As a ghostwriter and editor, I work with entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and social change agents to reclaim their voice and share their stories. It’s amazing how many of us believe our stories aren’t good enough. Everyone has wisdom. We can learn something from everyone. Period.
Sometimes my brain is too full, though, so I say to myself, “Ok, Elizabeth, one episode of How to Get Away with Murder. That’s it!” I watch three, self-forgive, sleep, and start again.
How did you find your purpose?
I made it up. And this version I invented only recently.
Don’t you think our callings are ever-shifting intentions that evolve with us?
My journey has, thus far, been one of one of mishaps, failures, depression, anxiety, a bad marriage, heartache, delight, love, joy, island adventures, surprise discoveries, and my own created intentions. Some have been so bold as to name this kind of journey: Life.
When I became a mother, I promised my son that I was committed to showing him an extraordinary life.
When I found myself unhappy in marriage, I realized I was not being the kind of role model I wanted to show my son. So, I went searching for answers. As a friend reminded me, “everywhere you go, there you are.”
Thousands of dollars, hours, and energy sources went into transformation and developmental workshops and training and practice. That helped.
I learned, I grew. My voice rose up. I gave voice to others. I made myself happy again. Fell in love again. This time, with an amazing man aligned with what I wanted in a partnership.
At one point, I fell into a depression. Plus, I needed a job, and my community at the time had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina, so I worked with a local non-profit organization writing grants to help folks rebuild their homes, veterans find traditional housing, and domestic violence victims find a safe haven. In turn, the work gave me a focus, or a purpose, which helped me get back on my own feet. I started spending more of my energy on how I could be a contribution.
Then, I went seeking extraordinary women ‘cause I still wanted to be one. Ten of us started a women’s circle, which gave us all a safe space to express ourselves and to practice being authentic and courageous. Plus, they provided a great support network when the shit hit the fan, which it will at some point. For ten years, they listened to my highest self from a place of possibility. I wouldn’t be coming out with my first novel, The Elegant Out, if it weren’t for them; I had so much fear around writing and authoring.
As a matter of fact, I wrote The Elegant Out on a quest to find my own purpose. The creative journey the protagonist goes through to release the hands around her throat and find her voice and purpose is mine too.
Like a good novel, there have been many plot twists and they keep culminating in the contribution-of-the-moment.
At a conference I once attended, I heard author Elizabeth Gilbert say that when she followed the goose bumps, she found her story. When I look back, I can see that goose bumps have been leading me all along. So, now I’m much more conscious about tuning in and listening to where I’m being pulled. The purpose gives me a place to put my focus as I walk through my day.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Your purpose can either be discovered or created; it doesn’t much matter what way you find it. That’s what my brilliant, joyful performance coach said to me. And remember, your calling is a work or word-in-progress, as are we all. Just keep listening, 24/7.
Remember to follow the goose bumps! Purposes live there.
Oh, and this question has been another good place for me to look: Where do you feel a “Full Body Yes”? Where your heart, mind, entire physical body feel aligned with what is happening?
Also, our intention-purpose-calling is meant as a guide, not something to dominate us or stress over. Declare an intention for the week and try it on. If it doesn’t resonate, try on another. And have fun! It’s meant to light you up.
What resources do you recommend?
To hone in on a purpose that lights you up… Check out these podcasts featuring Alan Cahn, the brilliant coach I mentioned earlier. I swear, just listening to these three podcasts is like attending the Yale School of Life.
The Everyday Millionaire: May all hearts be full, may all beings be enlightened.
The Everyday Millionaire: Creating an intentional life.
The Everyday Millionaire: Pillars of performance
Also, the Story Grid Podcast. Who knew structuring your own story like a book could be life transforming? Once I learned to deconstruct story and understood conventions of good story and character motives, I could assess life and those around me in a much more profound way. Plus, for any of you writers, this is a goldmine!
When you get a chance, watch this movie, We Rise Up, and join this community of change agents who are redefining a new model of success to uplift and empower people to live radically fulfilled, purpose-driven lives.
I would be remiss to not mention the Self-Love Workbook I routinely download when I’ve lost my way. These are sweet self-love letters I wrote to escape depression and reclaim my voice. For a quick infusion of courage, power, and grace use these 11 invocations and write your own letters using the workbook exploration & writing prompts.
Please read my new book, The Elegant Out. Readers have expressed so many valuable insights as they journey with the protagonist and the rediscovery of herself.
Connect with Elizabeth Bartasius
Book: The Elegant Out
Elizabeth Bartasius is a writer and editor of transformative stories that inspire and engage. The Elegant Out, her debut novel, placed as a finalist in the 2017 Faulkner–Wisdom Competition. She enjoys European cafes, tropical climates, and list-making. She currently lives in the US Virgin Islands with her husband and a rogue iguana. You can learn more about her at www.elizabethbartasius.com.