Learning What You Are “Meant” To Do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you said it? Or heard a friend or client say it?

“This is what I’m meant to do.”

                                     or

“This is not what I meant to do.”

Join me in banishing these words from our mouths, our brains, our future.

“What am I meant to do?” is not a fruitful question. It is an endless escalator to unfilled longing.

Destiny is not your business. Desire + Reality is.

Desire:: owning what you want – starting right now.

What do you want to eat for lunch?

How do you want to move your body today?

How do you want to work today – what projects, in what order?

Exercising this muscle of choice gets you in shape to trust yourself to follow your deeper desires – not what you are in the mood for, but what your hearts truly yearns for. Which is almost always connected to being of service. (I say always for a bunch of reasons best left for another post.)

By claiming this level of desire, you connect to the present moment, to self-trust, and to service. Hot diggity doggie!

Reality:: staying away from the deadly trap that “following what you want” = perfect happiness.

What it means is getting to own and be in this life, right now. Your life. That is the happiness, when you inhabit here, through imperfect bumbling sweaty choice. That is bliss.

Reality is being in action. Reality is giving up the fantasy that if you only have X or know Y you will be safe, loved, successful, etc.

Fantasy robs you of this life that is being lived here right now which is far better than any fantasy ever could be; it robs you of the ability to trust yourself and develop your natural gifts which then robs the world of you and your badly needed service.

We need desire + reality to change our world. We won’t create that change if we, the creative leaders of the world, keep waiting for what we are meant to do to arrive, preferably on a silver platter, stuffed with cash and accolades and 150% money back guarantee.

What do you think? What has been your experience about “meant to do?” I can’t wait to hear.

P.S. If this idea of living who you are now appeals, join me on lovely Cortes Island in September for a one time only Shero’s Journey retreat. Click here.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Anna Guest-Jelley - July 21, 2011

Hot dang this is awesome. I often think and write about how the desire for a different body is magical thinking that is an escape from this right-here, right-now body. Of course the same is also true for doing what you’re meant to do in that unicorn-filled fantasy land of the future. Thanks for connecting some dots for me. xo

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    yes! I said something like this yesterday – fantasy life is fantasy life!

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Anonymous - July 21, 2011

Letting go of “meant to do” is such a relief! “Meant to do” is so close to “supposed to do” and worse, “should do.” Blecch. As my Zen teacher so often says, “No reason to do or not do anything.”

What’s different for you between fantasy and wanting the world to be different, wanting to change the world? I’m curious about what this means for you…

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    love to try and have tea in September by the by, staying out by the venue and won’t have a car, do email me – now to your great question! Fantasy, for me, is creating an ideal life in the future in my head and hanging out there, imagining how perfect things will be when all that is so. It’s mental masturbation. Wanting the world to be different is imagining with all my heart and senses what I want to bring into being and then doing the work to make it so. The difference is hard to put into words for me but boy can I feel it – one is using my imagination wisely to create pictures I can bring into action; the other takes me away from the world and myself. What do you think?

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      Anonymous - July 23, 2011

      SOOOO much good stuff in this discussion; in particular I love the reminder from Byron Katie: Everything’s already ok. 

      In my life, I find less and less interest all the time in changing anything. Sometimes I worry that it’s an indication of withdrawal from the world – you know, first sign of Getting Old and all that.

      And who knows, maybe it is coming because of advancing age. But disinterest in fixing anything feels relaxing, and so much preferable to attempting to impose my limited and mostly crap “improvements” on the world. Just ask my fambly!

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        Melanie Rinn Martinek - July 24, 2011

        Max,
        You are so right ~  letting go of internal drive to reach a more excellent place is air, space. It’s a more creative place, isn’t it?
        Rather, than age, I’ll say acceptance. Not that I’m settling or stagnating by any means, just accepting and moving forward from here.

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Callahan McDonough - July 21, 2011

So true Jennifer, owning, action, fueled by desire. thanks.

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    now to remember and practice she said to herself
     

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Chel Micheline - July 21, 2011

WOW… I have been struggling for MONTHS with the whole “find your gift, find your purpose” stuff. Thanks for setting me free <3

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    oh so happy!

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Anonymous - July 21, 2011

Read Hiro’s comment. Maybe take a little retreat in silence away from all the shoving. And remember – it’s all improv!

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Anonymous - July 21, 2011

you are brilliant. you are you are you are! and sorry to make you shudder. 🙂

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    Janet Goldstein - July 21, 2011

    Love this idea of desire. I’m lost when I think about purpose or “meant to do,” but when I feel pulled, excited, desirous, when I have an urge (painful, hard, joyful, necessary) to do, connect, create, be–I feel full and right.  I had that happen in a phone call yesterday and I could say, yes, this is why I do what I do, am who I am. xox

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      Anonymous - July 21, 2011

      you and me both! thinking of you in your office, hope all is well!

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Christina Seitz - July 21, 2011

I love this. I feel that we are “meant” to discover whatever it is that brings us joy, passion and meaning and find ways of bringing that all into our lives. There is nothing set in place for us before hand that we need to discover or adhere to. The only thing we are indeed meant to do, is to find our own way of creating a life we love. 

Thank you for all the ways you are shining your might into the world. Sending you much love. xo

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    Thanks Christina – and yes yes yes! I would only add and share that joy with the world to bring more freedom and justice for all.

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Amy - July 21, 2011

The very question, “What am I meant to do?” arises out of powerlessness – and our unwillingness to drive the car of our own lives. It’s that old old paradigm where God (or Santa Claus) is  ‘out there’  judging our choices and our actions, and declaring them, “Good” or “Bad” and then, doling out rewards. You have done what you ‘are meant to do’ so you get fame/money/power. You have not done what you are ‘meant to do’ so you are over the limit on your credit cards. This is preposterous.

The only thing we are ‘meant to do’ is live – and in that living, to do our best to thrive. We do that by making choices that move us in the direction of joy, expansion and light. We do this by choosing toward love.

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    beautifully said Amy. I have never thought of it as God/Santa Claus but I get how one could… either way, you are so right – no personal power. So refreshing to get free of these icks.

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    Anonymous - July 23, 2011

    Amy and using the word “preposterous” FTW! Beautiful.

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    Emily S. - July 23, 2011

    just a huge “YESSSS!!!!!!” to this. right on, amy!

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      Anonymous - July 23, 2011

      Doublng that YES!!

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Hilde - July 21, 2011

Thank you Jennifer. This is exactly what I need to hear. I’ve been asking myself the ‘meant to’ question for a long, long time. And of course it never  got me anywhere. Thankfully, I have followed my desire to a few really good places. And now will continue to do so with more dedication.

You have been an inspiration to me, these last few months.

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    Good on you Hilde, I’m doing the same!

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Kate Harding - July 21, 2011

Oh, so liberating. I’m breathing freer now.

It’s horrible, that feeling that life is an exam where you have to guess the answers and that god is hovering over you waiting to splat you if you get it wrong!

I’ve been listening to Byron Katie’s ‘Loving What Is’ today, and she was talking along similar lines. There’s nothing you’re meant to do. You already are what you’re meant to be. There’s nothing you have to do, and everything is already ok.

Phew.

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    exactly! phew!

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Charlotte Pettus - July 21, 2011

Such a great gift Jen.  thanks so much.  I think I’m going to go write down what I desire to do for the next day.♥

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Elle B - July 21, 2011

Just, wow! I have an 88-year-old auntie with the energy of someone decades younger.  
She goes to her office in the backyard everyday to work or create, whatever it may be that day.  She lost the love of her life, often wakes up in pain, but still exudes that certain something. She’s never worried about what she was meant to do.
 

When I asked her secret to longevity, she said, “I just have to see what happens next.” 

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Angela Wilson - July 21, 2011

oh Jen you made me cry – how very beautifully put. Thank you from the depths for my aha moment.  I have been meaning to sit down for ages and work out what I am supposed to be doing – and it didn’t seem right and now I know why!  LOVE the comment about mental masturbation, and actually it doesn’t even feel that good when you do it – huh!  Being in the moment is so much easier, less energy spent more joy  – how fabulous is that – now just to keep doing it!!

not sure what the time is where you are (dont even know where you are!!) its early Fri morning here in NZ so am off to be in Friday!

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    fab indeed my NZ friend – go forth and enjoy the day! the lightness! the real desire.

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Eric - July 21, 2011

Beautiful and full-body call to embrace our true-life not the shadow-life of fantasy woven by the shadow authorities – in the head.
True life is the love child of Desire + Reality.
The shadow life is, as you say, mental masturbation.

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    you got me bro, you got me

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Lynne - July 21, 2011

I love that thought!  And I love my life, right here, right now.  But after decades of “shoulds” and “meant to dos” I am still working to get acquainted with real desire.

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    yes Lynne, that is the issue for so many of us, me included. Be gentle with yourself and use your body to help you find the desire – one moment at a time.

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Emily S. - July 21, 2011

I love this post for multiple reasons. This is what I got from it, in different words. A celebratory summary: Desire + reality not only allows for the inherently mutable nature of life, but embraces it. Being here now allows us to be immersed in the cool stream of life as it is rushing through us and everyone else. But desire + reality is also a call to action.

After several years of getting better at exercising that muscle of choice in smaller ways, last night I made a choice. I chose a person. I chose a person who loves me and who was not what I had imagined would be the right person for me. I let go of the “meant to be” idea of a fantasy man, and let myself surrender into the reality of someone’s generous love. And now I am looking forward to being in the service of love. This is not a sentence I think I would have uttered a year ago, nay, 6 months ago. Thank you for this, Jennifer, from a fellow teacher, who is appreciating the echo of these words in my own life. Mirrors are not just for vanity 🙂

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    Holy Smokes, that is powerful stuff! and so echoes my own experience of choosing my beloved, again and again, as I step away from fantasy and into his loving arms. Service of love in all forms. Jai!

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      Melanie Rinn Martinek - July 24, 2011

      Divine Intervention here…..just grappling with this same issue (fantasy man never shows up but generous, loving man who asks me to serve with him does…yikes).

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Padma Ayyagari - July 21, 2011

Fabulous and timely as always.  I know I am “MEANT” to teach.  My desire is to teach.  Every bone in my body aches to do it. But, “REALITY” as I see it comes in the way.  “NOt enough courage”, “Who am I to teach” etc., etc., The niggling small voice of doubt, not because I lack confidence in myself, but i look for support – support for my ideas in places it will never come from – knowingly.  Yet, don’t seem to have the courage to look outside the circle, to step out.  “Reality” in the form of “Can I sustain if I start” takes root and stops me even from trying.

But, I am realising that and actually started to step out by starting a blog – please read if you have time and would love to hear your comments. it is at http://www.areyouchanging.wordpress.com

Early baby steps, but just that act of starting and a very small readership (11 at the moment) is so motivating that I want to write constantly.  i am no writer but i want to write.  As Patti says “don’t say you are a writer, just say that you write” and that resonates very well.

Love your posts Jen, you are an inspiration for me.
Thanks
Padma Ayyagari
Australia

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sui solitaire - July 21, 2011

Very interesting notion, & I agree with it on a lot of parts, but for me, I feel like I’m meant to do something BECAUSE I desire it, because it is the reality. Perhaps it’s a difference in words, meaning, semantics. For me, “meant to do” is rooted in my spirituality & feeling that everything is in its right place, following my intuition– not my belief in predestination or lack of choice.

But I can definitely see how “meant to do” can become a “I’m MEANT to do this so I SHOULD do this even though it doesn’t feel right to me in this very moment.”

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Tyra Hilliard - July 21, 2011

I mentioned on Twitter that I’m not sure I agree with all that you say and thought I’d say here (in more than 140 characters) why in response to your question. 

I think I feel a bit like sui solitaire below.  It is a sad state of affairs to me if each individual is not put on this earth for some purpose(s) – what they are meant to do.  Some “meant to do’s” are vocational (like me – I know I’m meant to teach and I teach, speak, train, consult) and some are avocational (like my husband – who has a job that he likes ok but who seems meant to be a wonderful husband and father). 

I’ve done several things I was _not_ meant to do and the discontent drove me to action.  For me, not honoring what I’m meant to do is the endless escalator.

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    Anonymous - July 21, 2011

    Tyra, I think we are actually agreeing. What you are “meant” to do can become a straight jacket for people vs. “wow, I’m unhappy. What do I need to change to be more content / excited/ of service?” That keep evolving as we do. But if we try to make it too narrow or not about our choice, I have found it can get really ugly. Hope that makes sense and most of all, glad you and your beloved are so happy.

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      Tyra Hilliard - July 22, 2011

      Perhaps we do agree.  See you in Boston (an example of Desire + Reality = action?).

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    Earthnsky - July 22, 2011

    In retrospect, some things were definitely meant to be done in my life. And a lot of smaller stuff was very much up to  whimsy & personal desire.

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Tamara Sellman - July 22, 2011

Hi Crescent! I have always (really, since age 4) felt I have a similar predefined purpose and that has been a guiding light for me, but I can also see how others might encounter such a personal directive as an unfulfillable burden.

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    Anonymous - July 22, 2011

    Thanks for stopping by Tamara, enjoy the beautiful day!

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Sue O'Kieffe - July 22, 2011

I like this perspective, and I’m ok with meant to do as well. I don’t feel it is a particularly confining paradigm for me. I think more it is a matter of semantics.  I believe that when we incarnate, the soul knows what it is coming back to do. Part of our task while being in a body is to re-member what it is. And definitely part of what we are here to do is have fun, feel joy, and be happy. And to be open to Love.

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Lyn Hopper - July 22, 2011

I do believe this, that we are meant for something, but we don’t always hear a call. As you say, it’s a matter of being still and tuning in. I highly recommend Parker J. Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

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Leilalloyd - July 23, 2011

Hmmmm this is such a great question to open up for us all. 

I think anything, even notions around self care and love can become should’s if we are coming from a place of fear.I was born, I’m convinced of it, with an urge to find meaning through my work and to contribute in a really significant way. And I have a burning desire to find the most joyful, ease fill ways to contribute in that way to this planet. And, after a decade in some kind of depression, I feel excited by the fact that I now Know that I am here for a reason and it is indeed to do with being of service – even if I am still figuring out the specifics of the form or medium. my heart swells with ideas and hope. But, at the same time I consciously practise noticing that in my relationships, in my office bound day job, within the limitations of time and space, of here and now, I am already contributing – whether or not it is in the way that I yearn for,  whether or not I help 1 person as opposed to thousands. This too is a significant part of me living my purpose and one that I would do well to celebrate, to acknowledge. So it’s a balance, or a dance that changes as I go.  There are no should’s though, there was value in me being depressed and there is value in me feeling sturdy enough to contribute and be more involved in the many seasons of life.

You ask the best questions which are impossible to answer without depth. Thank you! 

x

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Tina Tierson - July 23, 2011

I’ve spent my life trying to figure out what I’m meant to do  (And I’m 66!)  But recently I figured out that my purpose is just to try to live my life in alignment with the person I believe myself to be. To be compassionate, honest, loving.  Since I came to that belief  I’ve gotten more proactive in my life and many doors have started opening!  The universe is truly magic!  Thank you Jennifer!  Someday I will join you at Hollyhock! xoxo

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Emlabar925 - July 24, 2011

I have been told since I was a little girl, I am 68 now, that we are all here for a purpose.  I have done what women were expected to do, I finished school, I worked, I got married, I had a child, I did the unexpected in getting a divorce, and I worked and raised my child, I retired.   Is that all there is?  What is my purpose for being here?  

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Chris Stewart - August 9, 2011

I find that whenever I am out of sync with desire I’m looking too far ahead asking myself why I’m not up there:  richer, more fulfilled, more centered, more successful, etc. I’ve learned, and I tell my students that it’s best to do what’s in front of you, what shows up. It may not be what you exactly want when you want it, but it may be that you’re not ready for that yet and this thing in front of you will lead you to a few more things that will make you ready. It it’s not something you want to do, say no, but not out of fear! Stay curious about the process and what you need will show up one step at a time. And it makes desire an interactive process with the universe. Much more fun.

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    Anonymous - August 11, 2011

    It is a relationship, isn’t it?

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Anonymous - August 11, 2011

TA!

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