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Why Are You Here and What’s Yours to Do? One Lawyer’s Awkward Journey to “Shine Light” on Life Purpose

If you spend any time at all on the question of your life purpose, be ever so grateful that you are in a time and place where you have the luxury of doing so.

We are the first people in history who have the time, energy, attention and money (TEAM) resources to ask these questions, and also to struggle with the frustration of not knowing.

Prior generations had very limited, if any, choice. The family we were born to and place we were born in dictated our decisions about how we would get educated (or not), who we would marry and have children with, and the work we would do.

For the most part, we lived and died at the effect of custom, or the need to survive.

We didn’t have the luxury of being frustrated about not living purposefully.

Today, though, for many of us there are so few limitations on our ability to choose the form of our education, who we marry (or even if we will marry), whether to have children, and how we will earn a living.

And, yet, even without the limitations, many of us remain frozen in old stories, and ways of being, wondering if we are really doing what we are here to do.

It’s been a question I’ve been asking myself since I realized that the path I had chosen — law school, then clerkship, and then associate at a big law firm — wasn’t going to lead to a life I actually wanted.

I found myself at 28, having met all the metrics and achieved all the goals, looking out over the next 50 years, and not at all excited about life or the future. And maybe even a little depressed.

At the same time, it seemed I was rather trapped. I had over $100,000 in student loans, a husband staying at home with our toddler (and trying for a second baby), a starter home and the mortgage to go with it, and a 6-figure paycheck that felt a lot like golden handcuffs.

How could I possibly do anything other than what I was doing?

But, I found a way out. I started my own law practice, which led me on the most epic personal development and awareness journey I can imagine.

Each time I thought I was “there”, it turned out there was another turn of the wheel, another spiral up or down, another set of lessons to learn.

Almost every step of the way, I found myself asking the question: is this really why I’m here? And am I really doing what’s mine to do?

I first got some inkling of this thing called “purpose” after I had just started my own law practice, and joined a coaching program that brought in an outside speaker who would help us to get to our core purpose crystallized into just two words.

Before then, I never thought about purpose. I was going to become a lawyer because I wanted security, and to do work that could make a difference for some people along the way. At the time, it didn’t really occur to me that maybe I was becoming a lawyer to redeem my dad’s life as a con artist, or to heal from my parent’s divorce.

At the end of the exercise, I was fairly well shocked to find out that my purpose was to “shine light.” What the fuck did that mean, I wondered. Shine light!?! I’m a lawyer for god’s sake. And a mom trying to build a business.

What was I supposed to do with that?

I stuck it in my back pocket, thinking maybe it would make sense at some point in the future.

Fifteen years later, it all makes sense. Of course it’s my purpose to shine light.

I just had to see the light first, and that would take many years of peering into the darkness, blindly.

Shining the Light on Inheritance, Purpose and Legacy

The darkness I was looking into was the darkness of my own inheritance, and the legacy I would leave if I didn’t wake up to see what I was doing and who I was being.

I believe that’s the case for most of us, and if we truly want to know why we are here, inheritance and legacy is the place to look.

Most of us seem to be looking for purpose in fairly surface places.

Maybe one of these sound familiar to you:

“Passion, maybe that’s where I’ll find my purpose. I’ll do what I love and the money will follow, and then I’ll be on purpose.”

“Or my values, maybe I’ll find my purpose there. If I just align with the truth of who I am and what I believe, I’ll be on purpose.”

“Oh, oh, oh, vocation, money and success! I can certainly find my purpose there. If I follow the path of my great work, then I’ll be on purpose.”

Or maybe you’ve read Mark Manson’s article on the 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose (which, by the way, he admits in his members’ only commentary was totally contrived so he could get traffic to his site). The questions Mark poses are actually quite good pointers to a version of purpose, but I don’t believe they get you all the way there.

You Are Here, Right Now, For a Very Specific Purpose

I do believe you are actually here for a purpose, a very specific purpose, and it has nothing to do with your passion, your values, or your vocation, though those can all be enriched by you finding your true purpose.

My theory of life is that we are here, first and foremost, at this very specific moment in time, to heal the ancestral wounds of past generations so we can live into a future thriving reality.

I believe we are here to evolve our souls, learn and grow.

I believe that this is our true inheritance. And it ties deeply into the legacy we’ll leave behind, when we die.

I believe we are each here because we chose this Life, so we could learn through the very specific incarnation we each chose in our life between lives.

When I look at my own purpose in this context, the two-word “purpose” I found years ago to “shine light” begins to make some sense.

My dad was a con artist. His life’s work was to make money by taking from others, lying. He thought that’s what he needed to do in order to survive. Perhaps because of this, I grew up wanting to understand the truth, more than anything else. The question of “what’s real and true?” has ruled my psyche from a young age.

I wanted to shine light into dark places, by understanding more and then sharing what I learned.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, I became a lawyer because I wanted to save my father from his life of crime, and to clear my family karma around lying, cheating, and stealing to survive.

I do believe we all have family karma to heal because our ancestors, wherever we are from, ALL had to engage in win/lose dynamics or survival-strategy behavior in order to survive. We wouldn’t be here right now, if our ancestors hadn’t used their survival strategies to win.

Whether it was powering over others, or sneaking, cheating, lying and stealing, the survival strategies of our ancestors lives within us, mostly unconsciously, deeply hidden in shadow. Very few are willing to look into the shadows to see where these patterns exist, so we can surface and heal them. This is some of the hardest work we can do. But, so worth it.

And, I do believe that willingness to look into the shadows of our inheritance is both the pointer to our unique life purpose and a critical piece of the puzzle if we have any hope of a thriving collective future, beyond the win-lose dynamics that are likely leading us toward extinction.

Healing our family karma requires us to first be willing to see the survival patterns used by our ancestors and where those patterns live within us.

I became an estate planning lawyer because I thought it would be a great way to make a living helping people with my law degree. After I achieved significant success doing so, I spent many years wondering why I actually became an estate planning lawyer.

It didn’t seem to make sense to me that I came here just to earn a great living helping people pass on their money after they died.

I always felt that there was something else.

When I realized that there are many parts of the broken system of estate planning that have hurt my family (and, not just mine, of course, but so many families), I created a New Law Business Model to re-train lawyers on how to serve families and business owners in the right way.

And while that was, and is fulfilling, at one level, I still new there was something else, something more.

It’s taken me a lifetime to understand it all, but I am finally starting to get it. I am seeing how it all comes together. My life purpose. Your life purpose. Our collective life purpose.

We are here to heal.

Your life purpose can be found in your inheritance.

We tend to think about inheritance in terms of money or things, when that’s such a small part of what we actually inherit. And, while it is critical to plan for the passage of money and things, so as not to leave a mess for our loved ones, it’s equally (if not, even more) important to understand the deeper inheritance we are receiving and leaving behind.

We all inherit the wounds of our parents, and we’ll pass on a legacy of those wounds to our children, unless we turn to face them now.

I’ve been facing the wound of my father’s con-artistry for years, mostly finding all the ways I could avoid it, and not be that. I’ve been hiding from it, manifesting people calling me it, proving myself again and again to avoid being it.

What happens when I turn toward it and embrace it? I’m in the discovery of that process, and I feel fairly confident that it’s a big part of why I am here, and what’s mine to do. I’ll keep you posted on my discovery process. And I invite you to share with me as well.

What if your real inheritance was the missing clue to why you are really here, and what’s really yours to do?


Alexis Neely is the lawyer name of Ali Shanti, an artist, writer, creator, and human, waking up to the multi-dimensionality of being in a very limited human body.

Follow my Instagram here.

Watch my talk on “money dysmorphia” here. And, if you want to live into a world that works for everyone, watch this meditation, daily. And then, join the Eyes Wide Open Tribe here.

Finally, if you are a lawyer who wants to make the most of your law degree serving people in your community in a whole new way, go here.