Finding your purpose seems like an impossible task.
And when framed that way, it kind of is.
I’ve talked about How To Find Your Passion And Purpose before, but in this post, I really want to look at it from a completely different angle.
Let me give you a little warning now: this is for those of you who want to take this work deeper and to the next level. Meaning, this is going to be hard! But you can do hard things, so here goes…
If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post — Uncovering Your Purpose By Removing Escaping.
Where Your Purpose Is Hiding
Your purpose is hiding behind your false pleasures.
Here’s what’s happening…
- First, you start to feel a negative emotion come on (this happens unconsciously).
- Next, you want to escape that negative emotion, so you seek some false pleasure, such as some sort of sugar (like a cookie) or a glass of wine or a little scrolling on social media.
- Next, you get false pleasure from outside of you that makes you feel better temporarily, but that has a net negative consequence (using something external to soften the negative emotion, which your mammal brain loves to do, but that reduces consciousness to your life).
- Finally, you reinforce this behavior by continuing to do this (creating a reward cycle).
If you followed that process, you may be wondering… where is the part that is hiding my purpose?!
You’re hiding the true desire for your life in the false pleasure you’re using to escape your life.
My pitch to you is to remove the false pleasure reward cycle of escaping so that you reveal your life.
Without escaping, you’ll see what you’re thinking and feeling about your life.
This is where your real desires are—aka your purpose.
When you remove all the escaping and overing (more on that below) from your life, you’re left with the truth about your life. Once you’re aware of the reality you’ve created, you can decide what you truly want for your life.
If you’re always escaping, you won’t find your purpose. You’ll sit in “I don’t know.”
(Check out my podcast on When You Don’t Know How.)
While you might not be sure if you’re escaping at first (this is how I felt when I first learned this work), I can assure you, you likely are.
What It Means To “Escape”
Escaping means you are doing something to reduce the intensity of a negative emotion. It’s seeking pleasure to avoid pain but it generally leads to a net negative consequence.
Examples of escaping…
It’s doing something in the moment because it feels better than feeling negative emotions.
The problem: escaping hides what’s really going on.
I have members in Grow You who escape with coaching. Instead of going out at working on their goals (which is hard and scary), they sit in passive action and coach themselves all day and night.
The way to find out if (how!) you’re escaping is to plan your pleasure 24 hours in advance.
For example, if you suspect that you may escape negative emotion through scrolling on social media, the way to test this is to plan when you’ll check social media ahead of time. The rule of thumb is 24 hours in advance. That’s when you’ll be using your prefrontal planning brain instead of your mammal desire-driven-in-the-moment brain.
Another example is food. Try planning your food out 24 hours in advance and only eating what you plan.
What you’ll find when you do this is where you are escaping negative emotion in your life. That’s the area that you need to focus on to reduce escaping and see what comes up for you.
Everyone has different preferred methods of escaping. You know what yours is. It may be sweets, it may be spending money, it may be caffeine, it may be alcohol. Whatever it is, start there and start planning when you’ll have that pleasure ahead of time.
What you’ll find is that you’ll have an urge to do the thing you normally do when you start to feel a negative emotion.
Dealing With Urges
If you do what I’m suggesting and plan your pleasure 24 hours in advance, you can see the truth of your life and see what you really want for it. But, you’re going to be faced with urges.
An urge is an intense desire caused by your thinking. In other words, an urge is wanting something really bad.
If you decide to only look at social media twice per day, then follow through with that. You’ll have the urge to do it many more times throughout the day because you’ve conditioned yourself to do it when you start experiencing negative emotion.
Here’s the thing about urges: you don’t have to answer it. You can feel the craving or wanting and not do the thing. If you answer it and give in, you train yourself the answer is to have urges.
You do not have to ever comply with the urge. It’s like a toddler.
The urge may feel urgent. It may seem irresistible. You’re going to feel out of control when this happens. This is why resisting an urge doesn’t work. You have to allow it.
Allowing an urge without responding is hard. You have to practice.
When you decide to plan your pleasure ahead of time and remove the escaping from your life, you’re left with urge, which is essentially a negative emotion.
Experiencing Negative Emotions
Negative emotions are the secret to uncovering your purpose.
If you learn how to experience and allow negative emotions, you will remove the escaping from your life, and you’ll be left with what you truly desire.
The reason I know for sure that when you stop escaping you’ll be faced with negative emotions is that you wouldn’t need an escape if it felt good.
You’re escaping because of something negative you’re feeling.
Instead of avoiding and covering up that feeling with false external pleasures, I want you to allow the feeling.
When you get good at allowing negative emotions, you achieve impossible goals.
I don’t say that lightly or as some cliche. It’s the truth.
When you want to do and achieve things you’ve never done before, you have to experience enormous discomfort and emotional pain. It’s failing, it’s rejection, it’s humiliation, it’s fear, it’s anxiousness, it’s doubt, it’s stress.
When you avoid negative emotions and resist them, you will inadvertently avoid your goals, and that my friend, is a tragedy for your growth and development as a human.
More Resources On Goal Setting:
- Personal Development Free Course (free training)
- Deliberate Discomfort (podcast)
- How To Set Goals (blog post)
- How To Set Goals (podcast)
- Design Your Dream Year From Your Future (podcast)
The Result (And Crazy Benefits Of Doing This)
When you remove the escaping, you reveal the truth of your life.
It will feel bad. But you’ll solve the real problem in your life internally instead of externally.
Not only that but there are insane side benefits of this you may not even believe are so good until you do it. Namely, the amount of self-confidence you’ll find within yourself.
Eliminating escaping and allowing urges is hard. When you do it, you see you are capable of so much. You’ll wonder what else you’re capable of. And from there, you’ll set and achieve impossible goals, knowing you can feel and experience any negative emotion that comes your way.
Bonus Tip For Success
It’s really important that you’re kind to yourself when you do this work.
Approach your attempts at removing escaping with compassion and curiosity.
This means when you fail and give in to the urge, you neither beat yourself up nor ignore it.
You seek to understand what you were thinking and feeling when the slip happened.
Create the exact situation over in your head and decide how you want to think, feel, and act instead.
A Final Note!
I go after big goals because I know how to experience rejection, stress, anxiousness, and humiliation. I don’t avoid these negative emotions. I know I can experience the emotional discomfort and move forward.
When you remove the escaping (and overing) from your life, you will uncover your true desires and your purpose.
This is where the magic happens.