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How To Handle "Purpose Fatigue"

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

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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

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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