Do you have a sense of purpose? Do you wake up in the morning and feel that you’re doing what you’re ‘meant’ to be doing? That might mean in your job or career, or for some people purpose is less about work and more about family and friends. For others it might be a more spiritual purpose, a way of being or an expression, and for many it’s a combination of all these aspects of life.
Purpose is unique for everyone; what you identify as yours will be different from other people’s. What’s more, your purpose will likely evolve throughout your life in response to the changing priorities and fluctuations of your own experiences.
For some of us, our purpose is obvious and clear. Some people always knew they wanted to be an artist/nurse/scientist/parent/chef. However, most people are still working it out, and it’s always going to be work in progress. Purpose isn’t always obvious. We may discover our true calling over time by trial and error or a happy accident. For the majority of people, in the fast pace and pressures of everyday life, it’s difficult to really stop and think about what our purpose is.
‘Finding your purpose’ is more than just a cliché, an existential crisis or a Hollywood plot line. For decades, psychologists have studied how humans desire and develop a sense of purpose over their lifetimes. Our sense of purpose appears to have evolved so that humans can accomplish big things together. It helps both individuals and the species to survive.
Our sense of purpose can be our connection to something bigger, something that will allow us to truly make a difference. It can be a tool for building confidence, making decisions, shaping goals and offering a sense of direction. There’s also research that shows having a sense of purpose can help us create meaning, which can lead to a happier life.
We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are not. The important things give our lives meaning and happiness. So, when we’re looking for purpose, what we’re really asking is, ‘What can I do with my time that’s important?’
If you’re reading this and are having affirming thoughts like ‘Oh yes, I know why I’m here and where I want to spend my time and energy’, then fabulous. Read no further. However if you’re feeling like you’re being swept along by life and you’d like to be driving rather than a passenger, then here’s three tips to help you begin to uncover your purpose.
Why do you want to find your purpose?
It isn’t necessarily easy, and like anything that might involve change and take some time and effort, it can help to be clear on why it’s important to you. Otherwise it’s easy to stop at the first hurdle, run out of energy and revert back to your current ways of being.
Write down why it’s important to you that you find your purpose. For example, is it that you want more from your life and career, to be happier, healthier, wake up in the morning excited for what you’re going to do that day?
What are you good at?
A good place to start in helping you to uncover your purpose is to ask yourself some questions around your strengths, your achievements and what really makes you, you. Ask yourself the following questions as honestly as you can:
- What sets me apart?
- What skills do I have?
- What am I doing well?
- What do I enjoy?
Once you’ve done this, review what you have written. What answers do you get? What passion or purpose are you leaning towards?
Saying what we’re good at can be difficult. It can help to get some objectivity by asking others for their opinions. A quick and powerful exercise is to ask five people for five words that they immediately think of when they think of you. It can feel scary, and I guarantee the exercise will reveal some helpful insights and indicators about what you’re good at.
‘You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.’ Diana Ross
There’s three quick tips to get you started. Finding your purpose isn’t a tick box exercise; it’s an ongoing journey. Keep stopping to pause and reflect. Your thoughts will likely evolve and change. What’s important is your own awareness and focus on what you’re interested in and what makes you happy.
- How connecting with your purpose can change your life
- Why finding your purpose is a journey, not a tick box exercise
- Practical tips to discover your purpose.
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