Aligning Inner and Outer Purpose

Greta Rossi shares some insights around how you can make sense of what is happening right now in order to find meaning in this pandemic and determine your place, and purpose, in this crisis.

by Greta Rossi – Recipes for Wellbeing, May 12, 2020
Happy with confetti

“Follow your passions,” and “Find a meaningful career,” and “Lead a purposeful life,” may seem clichè statements a life coach would tell you. But the quest for meaning, for purpose, for your raison d’être, has always been a distinguishing element of your evolutionary journey. After all, humans are a meaning-making species. And so it appears natural that you try to make sense of what is happening right now, finding meaning in this pandemic, seeking an understanding of the situation, and figuring out your place in the crisis.

I am a bit nervous writing this because I feel the heaviness of each word as I say that you may choose to also see this crisis as an opportunity. An opening – albeit painful and heartbreaking – into a new world that may be shaped by each and everyone of us. In “The illusion of separation” author Giles Hutchins reminds you that, “In Nature everything is continually transforming as one stage comes to an end another begins; spirals of death and rebirth; of withdrawing and bursting forth – this is the way of life. The only certainty is uncertainty.” This passage encapsulates how I am trying to make sense of what is happening around me these days and I hope it can help you find some quiet in the storm too.

However, the purpose (see, here we go again!) of this post is to entertain a brief exploration of the meaning of “meaning”. And to do this, I decided to dust off one of the books that accompanied my journey a few years back: “A new Earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose” by Eckhart Tolle. When it comes to meaning, one of the most important realisations is that your life has both an “inner purpose” and an “outer purpose”. Tolle distinguishes between a primary purpose, which is your inner purpose and concerns Being and a secondary purpose, which is your outer purpose and concerns doing.

Tolle explains that “your inner purpose is to awaken.” And awakening is the purpose shared by all humanity. On the other hand, he continues, “your outer purpose changes over time. Finding and living in alignment with the inner purpose is the foundation for fulfilling your outer purpose.” Now, take a moment to let these sentences sync in because what they say is pretty mind blowing. What Tolle is suggesting is that your inner purpose is not to be found in the outer world because “it does not concern what you do but who you are – that is to say, your state of consciousness.” And so you can find new layers of depth in the opening statements of this blog post.

Most important is the differentiation between Being and doing when it comes to purpose. Many people solely focus on their outer purpose, on the doing. But Tolle warns you that, “outer purpose alone is always relative, unstable, and impermanent.” In fact, he continues, “‘Making it’ in whatever field is only meaningful as long as there are thousands or millions of others who don’t make it, so you need other human beings to ‘fail’ so that your life can have meaning.” That’s pretty intense. How can you separate meaning from comparison and live out your inner purpose? Tolle suggests that “the paradox is that the foundation for greatness is honouring the small things of the present moment instead of pursuing the idea of greatness.”

Let’s start from the small things, then. Today’s recipe “5 steps to purpose” guides you through a five-step process to turn your curiosity into passion and find the intersections that may help you align your outer purpose with humanity’s inner purpose of awakening. Awakening into pure consciousness, awareness, and presence.

You can access the full guidelines at The next blog post will present you with another recipe to share your purpose with your team.

About Greta and Recipes for Wellbeing

Greta Rossi is a changemaker involved in multiple not-for-profit initiatives, including Recipes for WellbeingAkasha InnovationPitch Your Failure, and ChangemakerXchange. Recipes for Wellbeing works towards shifting the culture of changemaking to include a focus on holistic wellbeing to enable anyone to contribute more effectively to creating positive change in the world. From freely accessible wellbeing recipes, through wellbeing talks and workshops, to immersive wellbeing labs, we make wellbeing accessible to changemakers and their teams. If you’d like to host a talk, workshop, or retreat for your team or organisation, reach out to us at

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