I wake up every morning and ask myself, “What am I meant to do? Have I found my real purpose in life?” Even though I’m technical ‘all grown up,’ and by society’s standards, I should have it all figured out already, I’m still working on it. I’ve given myself the go-ahead to pursue my curiosities for as long as it takes to answer my Sacred Question. And you should too.
Your Sacred Question or the question of “why am I here?”, is what gives life meaning. It’s what inspires us to get out of bed in the morning and make our way in the world. Each one of us has our own version of this Sacred Question that propels us forward and helps us decide what choices to make next.
Your sacred question may take years to answer — in fact, it should. These deep, inner questions about who you are and what your ‘true calling’ often takes a lifetime to discover.
Think like a tracker
I was first taught the concept of the Sacred Question by, Jon Young, a mentor, and skilled animal tracker. Trackers always have lingering questions that propel them forward because nature is full of unexplained mysteries. These mysteries not only motivate trackers to continue their work but also influence their spiritual life as well.
Your journey through life is also full of lingering questions and mysterious encounters. Just as trackers look out for the subtle signs and clues of wild animals, the rest of us are constantly looking for signs and clues that might reveal what we’re meant to do next.
The most successful and tenacious trackers are consciously searching for these clues, even in the most unassuming places. They’re opening themselves up to connecting with people from all walks of life. They’re pursuing their curiosities and always pushing themselves towards their sacred question.
The pursuit of curiosity
Elizabeth Gilbert describes the pursuit of curiosity as “always within reach,” unlike passion, which, at times, “can feel completely inaccessible and impossible.” In an interview with NYMag.com she explains her preference for the pursuit of curiosity over following your passion:
“Forget about the notion of passion, and give your attention to your curiosity. Passion burns hot and fast, which means it can come and go. Curiosity is so accessible and available, every single day of [your] life … Most of the time, when you’re stuck, you can think, Is it possible that you can’t find one little tiny thing in the world that is interesting to you? And it may eventually lead you to your passion.”
Pursuing your curiosity isn’t going to take you down a linear path. It’s going to pull you in more directions than you can count. Sometimes that path will be a dead-end, but other times it will open up new and exciting opportunities. Whenever you’re unsure of what to do next, you can turn to this pursuit of curiosity and see where it takes you. The goal, of course, is that it will take you one step closer to answering your sacred question.
Straddle the line between your dreams and reality
My youngest daughter recently felt pulled to travel to Standing Rock and dedicate herself to the fight against the North Dakota Access Pipeline. “If that’s what you need to do, then go,” I told her. “Go, but remember that when you come home, there will still be bills to pay and a future to plan for.”
You have to keep one foot grounded in reality, even as you explore your curiosity and pursue your dreams. It is possible to both respond to your calling and go with clarity. Take the time to understand the costs and to evaluate how important this is to your sacred question before you commit.
I’m always straddling the line between dreamer and pragmatist. I’ve switched career paths numerous times and invested in multiple forms of higher education as I try to uncover what I’m meant to do and who I’m meant to be. Each step though has been guided by my sacred question.
After each new exploration, I reassess and ask myself, “Does this feel like a fit? Am I fulfilled? Does this align with my personal values and stay true to my beliefs?” If the answer is no, I take a step in a new direction and try again.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
Tracking your sacred question is a pursuit best done with friends, mentors, and sponsors. There will be many times when you may feel you’ve lost sight of your purpose and this is when you need someone wise and understanding to get you back on track. This is what your personal council is here for. When you don’t have the answer, ask your council for another perspective.
Surround yourself with people who inspire your curiosity, who push you to take risks while remaining true to your values and grounded in reality. These are the types of people who will help you track your sacred question, live a fulfilling life, and have the greatest impact on the world around you.
The process of tracking your sacred question will take years, and that’s ok. This lifelong pursuit of curiosity, of what you’re meant to do and who you’re meant to be is what makes life interesting — it’s what makes you interesting. It’s what makes you a well-rounded, wise, and thoughtful leader.