One of the very basic definitions of a happy life is a life full of meaning. There is a reason we exist, and everyone has talents that are theirs to share with the world. It’s those talents that give our life purpose. One of the biggest reasons people stay stuck in a life they don’t love is because they have yet to discover the meaning of their life and find their purpose.
Our life purpose is unique to us. What’s not unique is taking on someone else’s purpose. We are beings influenced by the happenings around us. As a result, it is not unusual to take on the things that matter to those around us. This happens because of the pressure around us to find and live our purpose. It can make us feel like we are not measuring up if we are struggling to find our life purpose.
Here are some things to consider as you set about discovering your purpose:
- Our life purpose is found through our curiosity. Try new things, read books, experiment with life and see what happens.
- Our purpose can change. As we evolve and grow as human beings, so do the things that bring us joy and feed our soul.
- Our life purpose is something we will steal time for. It doesn’t matter how tired we are; we will find the time.
- We are on this earth to support our life purpose; our purpose is not designed to support us.
So how do you know if you are living your life purpose, someone else’s life purpose or living with no purpose?
Here are five ways to find your life purpose today:
(Fair warning, these exercises while appearing simple on the surface, can be challenging as we begin to dig deep. We will get out of them what we put into them. So find some space where you can quiet the world around you and contemplate the big questions).
Exercise #1: The Three Lists
Make three lists. List #1 includes all of the things we are good at; list #2 includes all the things we enjoy doing; list #3 includes everything we do that is meaningful and feeds our soul. List as many things as possible on each list and then look for common themes among them.
Exercise #2: But, Why?
Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. The first column in the “what” and the second column is the “why.” We’ll begin by writing all the things we spend time doing in the what column – work, hobbies, errands, interests, chores, etc. When we have a list that adequately represents our daily life, we’ll go to the second column and start writing why we do it. When we have all the whys, go back over the list and circle the five things that bring us joy and are most important. Our purpose will begin to present itself, but don’t be afraid to keep questioning why.
Exercise #3: The “Four Aims”
In the Hindu tradition there are four aims to progress in life:
- Dharma or duty
- Artha or prosperity
- Kama or pleasure
- Moksha or freedom
Think of what each of those four aims means and write down five things that would be enjoyable to do in support of each one. Look at the four aims and the lists and rank them in order of enjoyment and personal fulfillment. As we start to prioritize what we enjoy and what brings meaning, we will begin to uncover our purpose.
Exercise #4: Visualize Your Future Self
Let’s start by asking questions about what the future version of ourselves looks like. It might take several days to create our true vision, and we should let it take shape in its own time.
Start by answering these questions:
- What does she like to do?
- How does she spend her time?
- How does she relax?
- What is important to her?
- What gives her life meaning?
- What makes her happiest?
We are creating the man or woman we want to become, and more importantly, the person we want to guide us. When we have a solid vision of this future self, we can begin to seek guidance from her with questions like these:
- What do I need to know to get from where I am to where you are?
- What are the biggest lessons you have learned over the past ten years?
It’s okay if our future self evolves and changes over time because we are evolving and changing, and so are our needs. Keep coming back to this exercise to make sure our future self is growing with us.
Exercise #5: Watch TED Talks
There is so much inspirational and motivational content on TED, that it isn’t hard to quickly learn what topics we enjoy, which ones we seek out, and what lights the fire within. Not only will we find the things that light us up, but we will also see living with purpose modeled on a large scale.
We shouldn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to find our “one purpose.” We can have more than one, and none of them has to be the reason we go to work each day. Work has its place, but our life purpose is something bigger. Give it time, respect and honor it by not forcing it to do anything other than make us feel whole.