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How To Handle "Purpose Fatigue"

Fulfilling your purpose is wonderful. It has moments when it can totally drain you too.

Inspiration

Something that I really love about my inner circle is, I can't think of one person in it who, not only knows what their purpose in life is but, they are totally thriving in it! As I shared in the article "5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose", they feel connected to the Giver of their purpose (God—Psalm 20:4); they are truly creative (inventive, original, productive); they use the gifts and talents that come to them naturally on a consistent basis; their purpose is not only benefiting them but many around them, and most of their days are good ones because they are purpose-minded and purpose-driven.


The only thing is, when you are this kind of individual, you either have the tendency to run yourself totally into the ground (even God rested on the seventh day, y'all…geeze) or you have moments when you are totally uninspired. No ideas come to you. If you're any kind of writer, you feel like you've come down with a bad case of writer's block. You're moody, irritable and can't really sleep. For days on end, you feel like you and your purpose are not in sync; it's basically like the two of you are only going through the motions.

If this is something you can relate to and it's driving you totally up the wall because, when you feel disconnected from your purpose on any level, there is a huge void—trust me, I totally get it. I also wouldn't worry too much about it. Sounds to me like you've got a little bit of what I call "purpose fatigue". You love your calling but, at the same time, you're feeling a little weary and drained about it.

It really is an uncomfortable feeling (again, I would know). But the good news is it's a season that will pass and there are some I've-tried-it-before-and-it-works ways to get through it.

Get to the Root of What’s Causing It

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I would venture to say that a part of the reason why a lot of us can't find solutions for certain things in life is because we don't really know what the problem is in the first place. When it comes to something like purpose fatigue, while you may know that you're worn out, you might not be able to articulate exactly what got you there.

So, lie down on your bed, put on some 90s R&B (the slow stuff) and think about it. Is it because you're feeling overwhelmed? Is it because you're burning the candle at both ends? Is it because you're doing a lot of sowing without seeing much reaping? Is it because you don't feel supported? Maybe it's because no matter what you do, you feel stuck or you know that you're in your purpose but you're still struggling to make ends meet.

Or, maybe you just need to accept the reality of what artist John Mayer said in a recent interview with Complex—" Nobody can be a good pilot of their behavior and their creativity endlessly, successfully...You just can't be at the center of your own behavior as the creative director of all your thoughts without saying, 'I'm gonna come to the end of a winning streak here.' You have to get off the field for a minute and take a break and watch the world go by." So that you can recenter your focus and recharge yourself.

For each of these issues, there's a different plan of action that needs to be made. But do you see how, by knowing what exactly is wearing you out, you gain a greater sense of clarity on what you should do—and not do—next?

Avoid Overthinking

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I have a client who, more times than not, after we get off of the phone, I have to take a nap. It's not because of their "issues"; it's because they are Olympians when it comes to overthinking. So much to the extent that their thoughts end up superseding the challenges that they have (i.e., making them so much worse).

One day, I'm going to write an entire piece on why overthinking is the ultimate no-no. For now, Inc. has a great piece with studies about how overthinking increases your chances of having a mental illness, totally disrupts your problem-solving abilities and totally jacks up your sleep (more on that in just a bit).

It's kind of common that when we're experiencing purpose fatigue, we're tempted to go down the rabbit holes of "Am I doing the right thing?", "I can't afford to take a break" or "Maybe I've been wrong about this all along", but all that's going to do is make mountains out of molehills. No one makes the best decisions when they're weary. The last thing your brain needs is you to put more stress onto it than it already has. Overthinking will do just that. So…stop.

Have a Change of Scenery

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What should you do instead of putting your brain into overdrive? Take a day, weekend or week (if you can) to get as far away from anywhere where you work on your purpose a lot, whether that's your office (including home office), your devices or even your bedroom (you do know that bedrooms should only be reserved for sex and sleep, right? Google it sometime). Not only does a change of scenery give you the opportunity to relax, it actually works for, not against, you getting your purpose mojo back (check out "10 Reasons Changing Your Landscape Can Boost Creativity", "Why a Change of Scenery Is More Important Than You Think" and "Can a Change of Scenery Improve Your Productivity?").

Although taking a vacation would be awesome and ideal, I can speak from personal experience and say that just getting a hotel room for a night, sleeping in your girlfriend's guest room or hanging out in a movie theatre for a day with your phone turned off can make you feel like a new woman.

The same scenery can get boring after a while and boredom can be draining too. Changing your scenery could easily change your life, or at least this season of your life. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Do Something That Inspires You

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When it comes to purpose fatigue, this is a point that a lot of us miss because, if you're like me and you're in love with walking in your purpose, it can be challenging to be intentional about finding other sources of inspiration. For me, when I've had enough of keystrokes, I'll read a book by another author. When I am like, "I can't listen to one more married person's problems", I'll bless a couple with a hotel or B&B stay (if you happen to be a married person reading this, hit me up at shellie@xonecole.com; you never know if you might be next).

Inspiration is all about being influenced in a productive way and doing what makes you feel exhilarated; it's about doing something that reminds you of why you're operating in your purpose to begin with. What arouses you, what excites you, what even reassures you—whether that's volunteering somewhere, going to a concert or hanging out with positive people, make sure you do that. Inspiration is one of the best remedies for purpose fatigue.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

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Envy has always been and will always be a temptation for us humans (check out "How to Stop Envying Your Favorite Celeb's Life"); but thanks—or, in this case, no thanks—to social media, it's almost impossible to not look at how someone else is movin' and shakin' when it comes to their purpose or passion and not envy them or, at the very least, compare where you are to where they are. In fact, I'm willing to bet good money that this is one of the leading causes of purpose fatigue.

If this is what has you so worn out, what's important to remember is it is super-counterproductive to compare your purpose—including the progress that you're making in it—to someone else's. Why? By definition, your purpose is the reason why you exist. It's connected to your own personality, your own gifts and talents, your own perspective, your own experiences, your own drive and ambition. Just because someone appears to be farther down the road, that doesn't mean they are "better" than you or that you have anything to be ashamed of. It simply means that they are doing them, just like you should be doing you.

Constantly comparing yourself will have you out here never fulfilling your purpose. If anything should "wear you out", it's letting the reality of what I just said really sink in.

Write Your Purpose a Love Letter

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Mark Twain once said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." Again, your purpose, by definition, is "the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc." If you know the very reason for why the Most High has placed you on this planet, you are more self-aware than a lot of folks (#facts). Take that awareness and write it a letter of love.

What do I mean by that? Take out an hour one day and literally talk to your purpose like it's the greatest love of your life. Tell it what draws you to it, what you appreciate about it, what you are willing to do for it and just how committed, until death, to it that you are. Then get it professionally printed and matted and hang it up in your bedroom or home office. In many ways, just like a marriage, you need to remind yourself why you are "in this thing" with your purpose to begin with. So that you can get back up and keep going.

Celebrate Your Progress

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I have to admit that I have a pretty bad habit of setting a goal, reaching it and immediately moving on to what's next without taking the time to celebrate what I already accomplished. The reason why this can also lead to purpose fatigue is because if you're fully functioning in your purpose, there is always going to be something to do, goals to reach, higher levels to take on. No one is created to go constantly without taking some breaks along the way. Something that can relax you and refuel you is making the time to pat your own self on the back for the things that you've (already) done.

It's not cocky; it's self-acknowledgement. It's recognizing that you're doing what God put you here to do. If anything is worth commemorating, sis, it's that.

GET SOME SLEEP

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of us don't get enough sleep. How much sleep is that? No less than seven hours, each and every night. Those of us who know our purpose and are extremely ambitious also know that we probably fall into this statistic. That ain't good either because sleep deprivation causes all kinds of drama and problems—irritability, anxiety, stress, lack of concentration, disorientation, hunger, weight again…and that's just the tip of the iceberg!

A contributor to this site recently wrote "'Team No Sleep' Is a Ridiculous Concept" and she's right. Not only that, but if you know you're not catching enough z-z-z's, there's a huge possibility that you're not purpose fatigued; you're physically fatigued. If that is the case, apply "10 Simple & Effective Ways to Improve Your Quality of Sleep" to your life for a week and then see how you feel.

I wouldn't be surprised in the least if after a few consecutive nights of rest, you'll look up and realize that this article may not have applied to you as much as you initially thought—and that you should bookmark it for another time. And season. All good. It'll be here.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

This Career Coach Gave Up A $103K Salary To Live In Her Purpose

5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose

Letting Go Of Perfection Helped Me Live My Purpose

This Former Stylist Quit Her Job To Follow Her Purpose Of Helping Homeless Women On Their Periods

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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