On Purpose

I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose, lately. As in, ‘What is the purpose of [insert activity here]?’ This question is often tied closely with a second, ‘Why am I spending my time on [activity]?’ I’m finding that I am at my most unsettled when the answer to the first is ‘I don’t know’ and the answer to the second is ‘Because I am supposed to.’ Eventually, this leads to ‘Is this what I want to do with my life?’ which is often followed up by, ‘Ack, I don’t know! No! Ack!’

On Purpose | Woolen Diversions

Spinning helps.

I’m incredibly internally motivated and when that motivation fizzles for one reason or another (usually outside of my control), I am not a happy camper. I struggle. I overanalyze. I go quickly from ‘Well, that was pointless’ to ‘OMG, WHAT IS THE POINT OF IT ALL?!?!!?!’ I hate feeling like I’m wasting my time and I am not the most patient person. When I get something in my head, I want to go go go and anything standing in my way becomes painfully mundane. It’s even worse when the thing I want to go go go do is not possible for a while, because then I feel aimless. Without purpose. Without a specific goal to guide me or an overarching aim on the horizon, I feel like I have no idea how to best use my time, and boy, oh boy, does that stress me out.

On Purpose | Woolen Diversions

New self-imposed deadlines for the win.

I’m not unhappy, there’s nothing wrong, I just… lack purpose right now, and that unsettles me badly. There’s no pressing deadline, life is just kind of in limbo, and I’m struggling to get ok with that. I expect this feeling is why some people take to religion so strongly, as it must be nice to believe that someone out there has a plan, but I am not a faith-having person.

Our back patio is filling up.

I suspect part of this bleakness is due to cabin fever. We’ve been snowed in for weeks and the monotony of home-to-car-to-work-to-car-to-home would get to anyone, eventually. I miss the sun and walks in the woods and I sadly do not have the constitution to go hiking in 15 degree weather just for fun. (For a specific purpose, though, I could do it. Cue the need to find a job in the field.) In lieu of racking up credit card debt to fly somewhere warmer, I’ve been trying to brainstorm other ways to alleviate this ennui, such as  volunteering with the local Nature Conservancy chapter and giving meditation the old college try. (Anybody have advice on where to start re:meditation?) And in true knitter fashion, I’ve self-imposed a gift knitting deadline just to try to keep me on my toes.

Are you someone who needs A Purpose (capitalized, of course) to feel content? How do you deal when your purpose is altered, unclear, or put off for a bit?

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20 thoughts on “On Purpose

  1. At 54 years old, and not having worked for the last 20 years, I can say there are days I feel the lack of a purpose. Now with a 17 and 20 year old I had a purpose all those years, but only intermittently did I work outside of the home. I ultimately get over my feelings and find a new distraction. Maybe the thing to not do is question the lack of purpose in your activities. If it brings you joy, then that’s the purpose. If it doesn’t, then kick it to the curb!

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  2. Purpose, that’s a tough one. I have struggled with this for the last two years with moving and not having a “career” right now…I struggle to feel adequate and like I’m make a contribution to mine & my husband’s life. Knitting helps. Calling friends and family helps. Blogging helps. Cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and if that’s all accomplished then I go to the gym or I go walk around a book store or I take my knitting to a coffee shop and be present with people. I find being around people really helps. I hope you find or feel your Purpose and it returns to you 🙂 Until then, spin away!!

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  3. I struggle with feeling like I, at 40, should have a career instead of a job. I also easily get to that place where I wonder what the point of anything is–usually when I am frustrated with said work or lack of time to do things I enjoy. In those moments, I even question the point of doing things I enjoy. Like knitting. Gasp.

    As a not religious person, my answer to “what is the point?” is that it is what you make it. Your life and work, whatever that is, can either be meaningful or not. Your choice. And when we get out of balance, it can be hard to practice that moment to moment. We have to remember.

    I’m terrible at sitting meditation. My brain quiets when my body moves, even a little. For the third time in a week, kundalini yoga has fallen right in my path. Today in the form of an emailed article by Dr. Kelly Brogan which explores the awesome science behind why this works so well. In it, she links to a video which I watched and did. After all, the universe is sending giant signal flares, I figure I should listen. It was great. Meditation with movement. Aces. Maybe you will like, too. Linky: http://kellybroganmd.com/article/kundalini-yoga/?utm_source=Kelly+Brogan+MD+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f18173482a-Join+me+for+The+Hashimoto%27s+Summit&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d0f977a8c5-f18173482a-121750309

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    • Thank you so much for your comment and for the link! You’ve voiced exactly what I’ve been feeling: “I even question the point of doing things I enjoy.” I usually operate under the “It is what you make it” idea, but you’re right, it’s difficult to remember sometimes. I’ve found yoga to help as well, but have not tried the kundalini practice specifically. That link, though! It’s like she’s writing just for me, especially when she says things like “I’ve found ways to make downtime productive.” I started a whole side business just because I had some downtime, and I think knitting is the embodiment of that statement! That link has given me a lot to think about, I really appreciate it!

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  4. You hit the nail on the head with this post Alicia. Lately I have felt the same way. That I am knitting just to cure bordem and no other reason. That I am painting just because I feel obligated because I have been given this amazing space for free and if I don’t then I am not using it to it’s potential. With no real shows in the future (which makes me so sad), it’s hard to get motivated to make art. And cabin fever to the extreme – I’m super broke until March AND I have to stay at the house for people to come visit 4 days a week, and honestly I’m lucky to get 1 visitor during those 4 days. Ok I digress. But you get the point right. I feel you pain. I hope we both find solutions soon.

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    • Oh man, it’s so hard when you lose motivation, isn’t it? Especially in artistic endeavors. I wish I had a solution to give you. Maybe you can try a different medium for a while, see if that gets your creative juices flowing? Instead of painting, sketch or sculpt or scrapbook? (I don’t know! haha) Good luck!

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  5. Yes, this is something I have been thinking about a LOT this year, and as a result I’ve changed my crafting plans quite a bit from what they usually are (ie, in years past I have done a crazy amount of gift knitting). This year, I’ve decided to focus on design work, on building my blog and my brand, and also making things just for ME because I want to! I’ll still make a few gifts here and there, but my friends and family can expect to get a lot of store bought (or handmade-by-someone-other-than-me) gifts in 2015.

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    • Yeah, my gift-knitting has slowed down a lot as well. With the start of Sweet Sheep, my designing as just about stopped cold. I wish this wasn’t the case, but there are only so many things one can juggle, and I find I need a lot of free time for my brain to be able to creatively design. I still have lots of ideas, and will knit simple designs on a whim, but turning those into patterns is a whole different job that I’m still figuring out how to manage between other obligations.

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  6. It’s funny how important it is to be around people to help create meaning and purpose. I also have felt a certain amount of aimlessness, even with some big dates coming up fast. It’s usually when I’m not around any social circles that I start feeling like I’m spinning my wheels.

    I hope the snow lets up soon! Your cabin fever makes me think of the Cabin Fever song from Muppet Treasure Island.

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  7. As an elementary teacher, I have a purpose every day…even if that purpose is just to contain them on a Friday, before Valentine’s Day and a snowstorm, with a 4 day weekend…and oh did I mention it was Friday the 13th…so in my home life, I’m okay with being purpose-less…..but I am also waiting to not be contained inside anymore…and I am so not an outside person….

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  8. this is one of those struggles we hit on sometimes, and I get caught on it all the time- It’s like we’re all trying to do everything and have it be these meaningful, authentic experiences. I do think it’s okay to take time to explore things, and just try stuff out, but it feels like because we have such a social media oriented life now, that everything we do needs to be instagram or pinterest worthy, and anything short of it feels like we might be wasting our time. Which isn’t true, of course- but it’s hard when you feel like you are working in a vacuum.

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  9. Very thought provoking post. In my own struggles with this term, I think I have come to finally understand some of the philosophy of just “being”. Being in the moment, enjoying life flow, in quietness, taking pleasure in the small things, like the feel of the snow, the crisp bite of the air, and allowing that feeling to fill your senses. We lack so few moments in our lives when we can just ‘be’ with nothing pushing us along, or filling our days with ‘what’. The yoga you speak of sounds like a good thing – it will help to quiet the restlessness within you.

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  10. Ah…such kindred feelings! I recommend doing a mindfulness and meditation course over 6 or 8 weeks where you will learn a range of techniques to help you sit with such feelings with compassion and curiousity and well as gently building a meditation practice scaffolded with breathing techniques and sections. If you can’t get to a course, there would probably be online courses.

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  11. I am pretty much the exact opposite. I get very stressed when there is a deadline or goal that I have to meet. But give me some breathing room to just relax and go with the flow and I’m a happy camper. Sometimes aimlessness and just living in the moment can be a freeing experience. I hope that you are able to find a happy balance (and hoping for a break from all that snow soon!)

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  12. Pingback: That’s More Like It | Woolen Diversions

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