Are you searching for a purpose? Finding your life’s direction can sometimes feel like trying to locate a needle in a haystack. If you’re asking questions like, “What is my life’s purpose?” or “How do I find meaning in what I do?” you are not alone. Many people grapple with these questions, often feeling overwhelmed. But today, I will be sharing with you, a few tips that will help you discover your purpose in life.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Finding your life’s purpose isn’t just about figuring out what you want to do with your life, but discovering who you are, what you value, and what ignites your passion.
Importance of finding one’s purpose
Having a defined purpose in life is akin to having a compass. It impacts every facet of our lives, directing our decisions and shaping our behaviors. Just as James Clear beautifully puts it in his book Atomic Habits:
“Your purpose sets the direction of your life. It influences nearly every decision you make.”James Clear
There is a profound correlation between our sense of purpose and overall well-being. Psychology Today discusses the myriad benefits of having a clear purpose, emphasizing that it significantly lowers stress levels, improves mental and physical health, and enhances resilience in the face of adversity.
Research also shows that finding one’s purpose can affect your health in positive ways. Furthermore, your life purpose goes hand-in-hand with setting and achieving goals. It is a powerful motivator, arming you with persistence and the will to overcome obstacles.
As Kevin Wood rightly noted in Life Hack, “You’ll realize your outstanding characteristics and hidden talents as you work towards your true purpose. In this process, you’ll acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.”
Why is it so hard to find your purpose in life?
When it comes to uncovering life’s grand purpose, many of us find ourselves lost in the labyrinth of self-discovery. Trade-offs between society’s expectations, personal aspirations, and life’s unpredictability often lead us down winding paths. So, why is finding your life’s purpose so challenging?
Mark Manson, Author, and renowned speaker, beautifully articulated this predicament in his best-selling book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”. He asserts, “Most of us have no clue what we want to do with our lives… and that is okay.” According to him, the problem lies not in searching for a purpose, but rather in our obsession with finding one.
So, a lot of us find it hard to figure out what our purpose is, simply because we pay more attention to our pursuits in life rather than trying to figure out what we were born to fulfill. We go after high-paying jobs, careers, and other mundane things of life while ignoring the calling of destiny.
Your purpose in life is different from your job or career. Your job or career is that which you give your time in return for payment, whereas your purpose is that which you have been destined to fulfill while on earth. So, studying to become a lawyer, an Engineer, or a medical doctor may be a part of fulfilling your purpose, but it may not necessarily be your purpose in life.
For instance, my purpose in life might be to liberate people and make them happy, using songs and instruments. I might be aware that I have the talent to sing but because I have not come to a realization that my purpose lies in music, I might end up pursuing a career I want for one reason or another. And this will make me forget about or pay little to no attention to developing that talent of singing, simply because I have found a career for myself.
Your career is not your purpose and your purpose is not far from you. It is tied to your talents or gifts. To discover your purpose, you have to identify those natural endowments God has deposited in you. To find out what your talents are, pay attention to those things you give more of your time to. Those things that make you happy. That is where your talent lies, and you can easily find your purpose when you discover what your talents are.
How do you discover your Purpose?
1. Reflect on What You Love and What Matters to You
Identifying what you love and what truly matters to you can help illuminate your purpose. Jot down things you are passionate about. If you’re having difficulty pinpointing your passions, think about what activities, topics, or ideas stimulate a sense of excitement in you.
You might find value in using the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” to explore your purpose. This concept, as explained by Ken Mogi, author of “The Little Book of Ikigai,” encourages us to seek a balance of what we love, what the world needs, what we can be paid for, and what we are good at.
2. Look at Your Life’s Highs and Lows
As written by Richard Leider in his book, “The Power of Purpose”, our life’s highs and lows often provide clues to our life purpose. What have been your most significant moments? How have these experiences shaped who you are? By analyzing these crucial points in your life, you might find a recurring theme or a hidden passion pointing toward your purpose.
Melinda Gates, a philanthropist, and businesswoman, famously said, “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” Looking at her work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it’s clear that her purpose revolves around using her voice and resources to aid those in need. It shows the strength of purpose when aligned with personal values and passions.
3. Try New Things
Exploring new avenues can also help you to find your purpose. By trying things out and embracing the process of trial and error, you may stumble upon something that truly resonates with you.
Research work on Self-Determination Theory by Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci indicates that when people are merely externally controlled, they can feel disconnected from their actions. Exploring new activities could spark internal motivation and connect you with your purpose.
4. Consider What You Are Willing To Struggle For
Mark Manson, the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, suggests considering what you’re willing to struggle for. Often, our true purpose might require us to make sacrifices or face challenges, and identifying what we are truly willing to suffer for can help clarify our purpose.
5. Connect With Your Inner Self
Mindfulness and meditation techniques can help you connect with your inner self and find peace. Through this connection, you can discover your true purpose. Melissa Eisler, a certified leadership & career coach, once said “Meditation is the journey to the truth of who we are. It’s a process of self-discovery, self-inquiry, and self-knowledge.” So, in the course of finding your purpose in life, don’t forget the power of meditation. You can try meditating every day in order to connect with your inner self and find out who you really are.
6. Take Inspiration From Others
Read about people who inspire you and learn from their journeys. They might have faced similar struggles and their solutions could inform your own. This can provide clarity and motivate you to find your purpose.
“Your purpose is the intersection where your talents and mental fortitude meet the people who need them. It’s not only about finding your passion but also about connecting it to people who need what you’re passionate about.”
7. Conduct a Life-audit
Conducting a life audit is another profound way to uncover your true purpose. To do this, observe your life from a third-party perspective – this helps to put things into perspective. Get a clear view of where you are now, identify the things you love, the things you’re good at, and how you can connect them for the betterment of your life.
In the words of Peter Drucker, the father of management thinking, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” So, audit your life by either allowing another person to examine you or you examine yourself and know where you are getting it right or wrong.
8. Don’t rush, give it time
Finding your purpose in life isn’t a race, it’s a journey. And like every journey, it requires patience. Remember, it’s about discovering your true self, not achieving a target within a certain time frame.
Best-selling author Karen Rinaldi puts it beautifully: “It’s not about”finding what you love; it’s about learning to love what you find.”
9. Understand Your Core Values
What drives you? What values do you hold close to your heart? Understanding your values can provide enlightenment on your purpose and the direction you should be heading towards. To find your core values, you need to answer the following questions: What matters most to you? What are the things you would fight for? etc.
10. Seek Feedback From Others
We often find it hard to see ourselves accurately. It’s like trying to see your own face without a mirror. That’s where friends, family, mentors, or colleagues can play a significant role. According to a study by Dr. Tasha Eurich featured in Harvard Business Review, soliciting feedback from trusted individuals in our lives can enhance our self-awareness, offering valuable insights into our strengths, weaknesses, and core areas of interest.
So, the journey to finding your purpose cannot be done alone. You need other people’s feedback about yourself. But don’t forget that you are not required or mandated to chew and swallow every feedback you receive from people. Your opinion about yourself matters and shouldn’t be left behind.
11. Embrace Uncertainty
Understanding your purpose is not a predictable process. It’s riddled with confusing moments and filled with uncertainty. As Brené Brown, a renowned research professor, tells us: “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.” She’s right. Embrace the beauty in not knowing, the confusion, the heartbreaks, and the questions. View them as stepping stones rather than obstacles in your journey to finding your purpose.
12. Set Personal Goals
Having clear goals in life can guide you towards your purpose. Whether it’s a career goal, relationship goal, or personal development goal, they give you a sense of direction and purpose.
13. Take Action on Your Discoveries
Once you’ve identified potential areas of interest or passion, take steps toward engaging in those areas. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.” So, taking a step forward is pivotal in your pursuit of discovering your purpose in life.
14. Trust Your Journey
Every journey comprises ups and downs. It’s important to trust your journey, acknowledging that each step is a part of your story. Eventually, every piece of the puzzle will fall into place, leading you to discover your purpose.
The quest for your life’s purpose might be puzzling, but it’s also immensely rewarding. It’s a journey with no one-size-fits-all answer, but rather an idiosyncratic discovery that unfolds as you journey through life.
To sum it up
Discovering your purpose It’s more than just getting a job with high pay. it’s about understanding what brings you joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment. Our purpose often defines us, providing us with a clearer perspective on our values, dreams, and passions. Yet, how do you truly define your purpose? How do you unveil the calling that shapes your decisions, behaviors, and desires?
To find your purpose in life, you have to:
- Reflect on What You Love and What Matters to You
- Look at Your Life’s Highs and Lows
- Try new things
- Consider What You Are Willing To Struggle For
- Connect with your inner self
- Take inspiration from others
- Conduct a life audit
- Give it time
- Understand Your Core Values
- Seek Feedback From Others
- Embrace uncertainty
- Set personal goals
- Take Actions on Your Discoveries
- And finally, trust Your Journey.
In summary, “Finding your purpose means discovering what truly motivates you, what gets you excited to get up each morning.” – Richard Leider
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