No matter how young or old you are, it is quite possible that finding your purpose in life is something that you have not done!
Why is finding your purpose important?
Top success teacher and best selling author, Bob Proctor, describes finding your purpose in life as finding your purpose for living – your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Essentially, there are two ways we can live our lives – either consciously – striving to be our best selves and determined to make a difference, no matter what obstacles we come across, aware that with every challenge there is an opportunity for growth. Or we can live unconsciously and simply let life happen to us, reacting to the ups and downs along the way and being knocked off course (if indeed we have a course).
Finding your purpose in life makes decision-making much easier because you know if your decisions are aligned with your purpose or not. Living a life of purpose gives you a sense of ease as you will be operating in ‘flow’ rather than always struggling against an upstream current.
It creates a sense of meaning in your life. You know what you are good at and how your contribution makes a difference to those around you and in the world.
How do you find your purpose?
If you haven’t found your purpose yet, don’t worry, it is never too late to discover it. There are many ways to go about it. Here are some questions and suggestions to get you thinking:
1. What do you love to do? Is there something that you used to love doing that you gave up for some reason. Could you reintroduce it into your life in some way? For example, maybe you used to love riding but no longer have a horse or can’t ride for some reason. Could you help our at local stables, or at a riding for the disabled organization or even help with marketing or fund raising?
2. What excites and energizes you? Are you energized by being outdoors but haven’t had the opportunity because of work commitments? How can you fix that? Could you join (or start) a hiking group?
3. What are you good at? Oftentimes the things we are good at are actually the things we love doing AND that get us excited. Give this some serious thought and if you are stuck, ask for the opinion of those closest to you. Maybe you are especially good at communicating or a great encourager. As we can have a tendency to be our own greatest critic, it can help to get the perspective of someone who knows us well.
4. Who would you like to help? Perhaps you have had a challenge that you have overcome in the past and feel motivated to reach out to people who were in that very same situation. You are living proof that it can be overcome so would be perfectly placed to help others.
5. Is there a pain or injustice that seriously troubles you? Often we can produce incredible amounts of energy and action when we are working on behalf of others that we simply could not (or would not) do for ourselves.
6. What (or who) inspires you? So often we hear of people who have lost everything who have just decided that they are going to completely turn their life around and go onto build empires! You don’t have to have lost everything to look at the habits of these people and decide to follow suit. One of the main keys, however, is that the focus needs to be on who you serve in the process.
7. Picture your perfect world, i.e. if money was no object. Write it down in detail, and then look at how you could insert little bits of that perfect world into your life now.
8. Is there something that you feel supremely qualified to teach but you are not doing it? If so, and you feel excited at the prospect, look for opportunities to incorporate that into your life.
Another way to look at it was explained by film maker and author, Adam Leipzig. He said you only have to ask yourself 5 questions to discover your purpose. 1) Who are you, 2) What do you do, 3) Who you do it for, 4) What do those people want or need and 5) How did they change as a result. Now that, to me, is not quite right because it assumes you are already pursuing your life of purpose but it would work if you changed it to say 1) Who do you want to be, 2) What to you want to do, and so on.
What gets in the way of finding your purpose?
As you can imagine, all sorts of things are likely to get in the way of you finding your purpose in life such as:
- Pressure from outside influences – maybe your family or friends don’t want to see you branch off into an area they are not sure is ‘right for you’. That is often well intended, however, do not – ever – live your life to please others because a) you will never please everyone and b) at the end of the day you need to take your own path and live your own life.
- If you have a negative self-image, it’s quite possible you think you don’t have anything to offer. I am telling you now that you absolutely do have something to offer – each one of us has unique gifts and talents. Just because you lack belief in yours does not mean they are not there. Try taking the focus off yourself and think about who you could potentially help.
- You think you are too old! You are never too old to find your true path no matter how old you are and with your life experience you will certainly have something to offer.
- Staying in your comfort zone. You might already have a good idea of what your purpose is but the thought of stepping out and finding out is too scary! If this is you, check out my review of Manifestation Miracle. This course was inspired by hospice nurse, Bonnie Ware’s memoirs about the regrets of the dying. We have an opportunity now, to make sure that we live a full life, true to ourselves.
How does it feel to live in alignment with your purpose?
Can you imagine getting up every day to do something you love? There is a sense of confidence that comes from knowing that you are ‘in the groove’ and that you are on your own path! Also, it doesn’t matter if you are not where you want to be – feeling the joy of going in the direction of where you want to go is cruicial. If you are so focused on your goal that you are not enjoying the journey, you are missing the point. The journey is where it’s at! When you reach your goal you will be excited for a while then think ‘what now’, so take time to savor the highs and the lows.
Surely, if it’s one of the most important things in our life, to be doing what matters to us, in line with our own values and beliefs, then it’s worth spending a considerable amount of time on. Don’t worry if you start off little by litte, just start! And remember, you don’t need to change the world to make a difference.
Have you discovered the joy of knowing your purpose? Or are you still looking? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Stop Press! A book on this subject has been highly recommended to me – Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer. I have just downloaded it on Audible (you can get it free with the trial membership if you are not already a member).