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Your Life Purpose Might Have Nothing to Do With Service

service guyThis post was inspired by this recent video from Marie Forleo, whom I appreciate and admire. It touches on the concepts of life purpose, service, and meaning.

A fan had written to Marie to ask how she could make sure her personal fulfillment didn’t decrease when she left her service profession and switched to art.

The fan was worried that her sense of meaning and purpose might suffer now that she was no longer serving others.

Now, Marie routinely offers some of the most straightforward, thoughtful and practical advice on the Web. So when I heard her answer to this question, I realized just how potent a trap she’d fallen into.

The Service Trap

Marie’s answer to the chaplain-turned-art-dealer was that her work would still serve people and be potentially world-changing. She listed specific ways in which art serves the world.

Though Marie is always enjoyable to listen to and she made wonderful points, I was troubled by the underlying assumption that a sense of meaning is tied to being of service to others — or making the world a better place.

I’m a funny one to reject this idea, since I feel my own life purpose is basically one of service. It’s what gives my life meaning.

But that’s me.

I want to say, for the record, that it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round. Your “deep purpose” might not change the world. And it doesn’t have to.

Don’t Worry About the World

There is such a thing as a life purpose that has nothing to do with service. Sure, artists and other creatives can improve the world. But for most of them, that’s just a pleasant coincidence. 

The important thing is to pursue YOUR purpose, whatever it is. That will change YOUR life. Start there.

If you’re not sure how your purpose in life serves others or makes the world better…

If you’re not even sure what your purpose in life IS…

Have a read of my recent post and let me know what you think:

Source: Service Is Not Your Purpose in Life | Psychology Today

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado.
She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations.
The author of “Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them” and the “Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children,” Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships.
Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called “Constructive Wallowing.”

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2 Responses to "Your Life Purpose Might Have Nothing to Do With Service"

  • Isabel A. Spradlin
    July 31, 2016 - 7:58 am Reply

    Oh. My. Word. Thank you thank you thank you for this, Tina! Words cannot express how this resonates with me. I’m always trying to “make up” for wanting to be an insular artist by continually growing what I offer my clients and colleagues in my “work life.” Which is great, but seriously draining. If I can get this little gem you just wrote really anchored inside me, I suspect I’ll be a lot less stressed out in life. Thank you again!

  • Tina Gilbertson
    July 31, 2016 - 8:26 am Reply

    I’m thrilled that this resonates with you, Isabel. The assumptions we make as a society always leave out a good number of the general population. I like to hold those assumptions up for scrutiny.

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