“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Those were the first words uttered by a client during a recent creative jam session. Which made sense because we were there to jam about the very thing that was underneath the question: life purpose.
In fact, the words “supposed to” drove the first part of our session, it was said 10 times in the first 20 minutes to be exact. It felt like something that was easy to hang on to, like a habit.
So, doing what we do in jam sessions, we played with the things that were bubbling up.
I asked her what that meant, as in, supposing to do anything.
And, what a gift that was. In our discussion, we discovered "supposed to" is not a very helpful proposition when exploring life purpose.
“Supposed to” is passive, as in it’s a directive that’s happening to me, rather a directive I’m helping navigate.
It means ”I’m not the one in charge." As if someone or something else is dictating my purpose.
It reflects the feeling of "required to", as in, follow the rules. It's confining, rigid.
Simply put, "supposed to" is nothing more than an expectation. In other words, the supposed outcome of something is the perceived expectation of that outcome.
But, when it comes to examining life purpose, until you’re clear about what you desire and what your soul is calling you to do, then “supposed to” becomes esoteric, it’s derived from something outside of you. Then, they become rigid expectations we put on ourselves.
But, what’s the basis for them?
I mean, when you think about it that way, who is it that dictates this mysterious “supposed to” when it comes to exploring your purpose?
Society? What is a person in my place in life, supposed to be doing?
Your younger self? What I am supposed to do now, since my younger self is disappointed in/judging how far I've come at this point? Your younger-self expectations on your now-self can be harsh sometimes.
Family/friends? I’m supposed to be further along, supposed to live up to their dreams for me, etc. Or "they think I'm supposed to be..."
By believing you need to discover and act on your “supposed to,” places you on another roadmap besides your own.
Believe me, I could relate to my client and friend, because I do it too. So, I got as much out of this reframe as she did. Here are a couple things we came up with.
When the urge to say 'supposed to' creeps in, catch yourself. Know that whatever follows that phrase doesn’t really belong to you. Instead try this:
I’m focusing on what life is calling me to do next.
I want to get clear on what I'm doing, where I'm going, with my life.
I intend to do what's right for me, right now.
My mind, heart and spirit know my purpose. I’m listening to that.
This becomes: I know. I am doing. I am living and being my purpose.
Because here’s the thing, your life purpose isn’t some grand oh-my-god sea change that takes place in a nano-moment aha, and then everything after that is nirvana and different.
Rather, it’s an unfolding, an inner and outer journey, a doing-and-being reckoning that doesn’t happen because you’re supposed to. It happens because you’re paying attention to your own life and following your own roadmap.
You may be asking, what am I supposed to do with that? Ah, and so it begins…