For some people, having or finding out their purpose is very important to them. So important for some that it's difficult for them to do anything, they want a clear purpose so it can provide meaning to their lives and inform their direction.
I too have caught myself in this existential query and paralysis at times, however, I realized it often does not come in a neat and tidy package as I would've liked. Sometimes it does take time and exploration to get clearer on it. Sometimes it's right under your nose but you don't see or value it.
I know a book coach/publisher, who experimented with different paths just to realize the very thing she was trying to change (helping people publish books) was her zone of genius and was the path that brought her tremendous success.
Putting pressure on yourself to have or know your purpose can be the very thing keeping you from accessing it or seeing it. A friend of mine racks her brain to have the perfect program name but it keeps alluding her. She doesn't see that the pressure for the perfect name keeps her from having an ideal name.
I understand having or knowing your purpose is tied to your identity and that's super powerful, however, our identities are generally not in neat and tidy packages either. They grow and evolve as we do. Your purpose can be developed or repurposed as you develop.
If you're experiencing any existential confusion or angst, here are a few things that might help.
Replace the word purpose with meaning. Sometimes the word 'purpose' itself creates or adds to the pressure. Instead of asking, "What's my purpose?" You can ask, "What provides me meaning?" and do more of that.
Identify your values and the things that are important to you (e.g., your passions, things that bring you joy, what you love, etc.). If you are racking your brain about your purpose, your values, joys, and priorities are most likely your purpose.
Live your values and joy. Once you identified your values and joy, living them -if you are not already- is going to get you more in touch with your purpose.
A part of my purpose is helping people find theirs. Burn-out, something a lot of my clients come to me about, can happen from a lack of meaning, fulfillment and/or purpose, not just stress and overwork. Not everybody requires a "purpose," meaning and fulfillment suffices.
For the ones wanting or looking for a purpose, however, your value-living journey may not reveal your own mission statement but is the statement more important than the journey? I don't think so. You living your values and joy can be your purpose.
Ps. Looking to explore this more? You can contact me here to see if I can help.