How Do We “Find Our Purpose”?

Words by  Ashley Sumner

Words by Ashley Sumner

Women sitting around, eager to talk about purpose. Each with their own interpretation of what it means to be on purpose, and how to find it. All able to relate to the agony felt when searching for purpose, or worse, when knowing what yours is, but not living it. We collectively admitted that we can’t compartmentalize. You have your day job, to support your side hustle. Your side hustle feeds your passion, which is in line with your purpose.

Easy, right?


We’re told to think of our day job as the stabilizing force in support of our pursuit of purpose. As if that’s easy, but it’s not. It feels wrong. It’s painful. It’s confusing.

You’re angry, you wonder, why can’t I just see this for what it is?

A means to an end.

It’s not forever.

It’s helping me prepare for the day when I get to… fill in the blank.

And then you realize, you’re in a fight with yourself, hungry for something so much greater. So great, it’s hard to put into words. Hard to get people to understand. They’re over you complaining. You’re over you complaining.

Your separation from living your purpose, has in turn separated you from yourself and everyone around you. You spend all of your time consumed in thoughts about how you’re going to get there. There being that happy place, where you’re on purpose. Better yet, when you’re making money doing it.

As our conversation progressed, questions were raised, opinions shared, and I walked away feeling the need to share some of it:

1. How do we “find our purpose”?

You can ask 10 people who know their purpose this question and get 10 different responses. All unique to exactly the way they found theirs. All are right.

That said, I would like to offer a reframe to the question. From find, to choose. I’m uncomfortable with searching for or finding things. Perhaps it’s my need to control, but when you’re finding something, it’s outside of you. While I believe in divine timing and signs, we still get to choose.

We still need to show up, do the work, and make a choice.

I chose my purpose through investigation. Diving deep on myself, working with master facilitators (Be Courageous), seeking spiritual guidance (Lisa de Narvaez), testing various social and work environments, surveying friends, noticing moments where I had abundant energy, researching thousands of descriptive words to pick the one that best represented myself... the list goes on.

Which leads me to the next question that was asked...

2. Are we born with our purpose, or is it something that develops over time?

I can’t take credit for my favorite answer here. I shared my purpose, how I chose it, and the insightful and intuitive, Madeleine Culbertson, shared what my purpose sounded like to her.

I’ll break it down:

My purpose: Spark the power of human potential

Madeleine’s interpretation:

Spark sounds like a descriptive word to describe a gift I was born with. She’s right. I’m a fire starter, provoker, I move quickly, always have. When I chose to celebrate that, rather than contain it, I got to know myself a lot better.

The human potential part however sounds like something that was developed over time. Collecting experiences and stories along the way to dictate that my interest is in people. In supporting them, in challenging them, in pushing them to realize what they’re capable of. There’s nothing I love more.

So our answer? Both.  

3. Are we meant to make money from our purpose?

Oh the pressure of making money off of living our purpose! I’ve never understood it. Of course they can be connected, but purpose is so much bigger than that. You can be living your purpose at all times of the day - your interaction with the barista at your local coffee shop, in communication with friends, when you’re picking what to read at night. Don’t put the pressure of making money from your purpose in the mix. Instead, find a way to live your purpose regardless of the work you’re doing right now. Trust that with patience, and commitment, if your purpose is meant to align financially, it will. Don’t let your happiness ride on this.

Which brings me to my final, and favorite question...

4. Are we searching for purpose, or happiness?

As someone who has been deeply connected to her emotions from a very early age, I feel strongly about how we approach the question of happiness. Happiness is a high vibration emotion. It’s also temporary, similar to sadness, or disgust (if you haven’t watched the Pixar film, Inside Out, do yourself a favor and go do that now - you can finish this after).

It’s a slippery slope when you approach life as if the things outside of you, what you can have or can’t have, dictates your happiness. It wasn’t until I learned how to shift my fear based thoughts, and approach them with a new perspective, and connection to my feelings, that I was able to find Joy. Joy is an expression of the heart. It’s a constant, even when you’re feeling all your feelings. It’s trust that even when a relationship is ending, you’re fighting with a family member  or your job doesn’t feel on purpose, that this is all part of your path.

While it’s a roundabout answer. To me, purpose is just a piece of the puzzle. Happiness is just an emotion. Joy is where it’s at.

An hour’s worth of coffee and chatting and this is where we landed. Women gathering in the home, feeling safe enough to share, to offer feelings and opinions. Holding each other accountable. Leaving each other inspired. Gets me everytime.