“Without purpose, life becomes a meaningless action, a directionless activity, an event that makes no sense.”
When you’re crystal clear about your life purpose, you’re more likely to be satisfied with how you are living it.
Just ask yourself this:
“Do you jump out from bed every morning full of energy and zest for life?”
“Or you wait for your alarm clock to buzz, then press the snooze button and continue sleeping?”
If you wake up feeling energized, you’re one of the fortunate few who has found out what you want to do with your life. One factor which may be contributing to this is your life purpose.
Because having a purpose in life guides your life decisions, influence your behavior and provide you with a sense of direction.
Prominent preacher Myles Munroe said it best with this quote:
“The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without a purpose.”
Do you know what your life’s purpose is?
When you have a true purpose in life, you have a strong and compelling reason for your existence. With true purpose – something which is only unique to you – comes a fruitful and meaning life.
It will also help you to discover what is most important to you and answers to the following questions:
Why am I here?
What is my mission in life?
How can I create a positive impact in this world?
But how do you discover your life’s purpose? How do you live a meaningful life? These are the candid discussions you must have with yourself since they are likely the most important in your life.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t give you a blueprint on your life’s purpose when you were born. So, you need to figure this out by yourself.
Once you have decided to begin thinking about your true purpose, your journey of self-discovery has begun.
Of course, purpose is embedded deep in your heart and mind. And it takes a lot of work and effort to coax it out.
Psychologists have been studying how long-term, meaningful goals evolve throughout the course of our lives for decades. Without a true purpose in your life, you might find that your life has no direction.
Defining your life purpose is like defining the real you – the person you have always wanted to be. Once you do, you will know exactly where you are going and why.
With a defined purpose in life, you will be very conscious of your choices. It will direct your subconscious mind in making daily decisions about what to do and what not to do.
A life purpose allows you to pinpoint the things that are most important to you. According to The Journal of Research and Personality those with a sense of purpose earn more than those who don’t.
If you believe that having a sense of purpose requires sacrificing your wages to achieve it, you are mistaken. The two can actually work hand in hand.
If you have been thinking that having a sense of purpose means that you need to sacrifice earnings to fulfill your purpose, think again. The two can actually work hand in hand.
Like most people, you probably started out having no idea what is the significance of your existence in this world. But once you have figured out what your life purpose is, everything becomes clearer.
Defining your life purpose is not an overnight process. It takes some thought and effort, but it’s well worth your time to devote to this process.
To discover your life purpose, think of a sculptor chipping away at a massive block of granite. Use these seven questions as a starting point for figuring out what you’re supposed to do with your life:
Give a thought to the things that brings joy to your life. Make a list of people, ideas, and activities that inspire you to get out of bed each day with enthusiasm.
Think of a joyful moment in your life. What special event resonated with you? Was it the birth of your baby?
Is it that long-awaited promotion? Passing an exam? Or was it your favorite sports team winning a championship?
Another thing you can do is try to recall what your childhood dreams were. Remember a time when you were just a kid?
What did you dream of becoming when you grew up? Did you dream of being a dancer? A novelist? A famous chef? A good parent? Inventor? Entrepreneur?
Sometimes, looking back can help you move forward and ignite your inner passion.
Start by defining your vision of a better world. Write down ideas or meaningful activities that you feel will be of service to others.
How do you plan to touch the lives of the people around you? How can you create a better environment in your neighborhood or town?
It could be something as simple as coaching junior basketball or cheering up folks who have had a bad day.
What makes you who you are? What is it that makes you unique? Try asking yourself this famous question from the renowned 20th century inventor and visionary, Buckminster Fuller:
“What is the one thing that you can do that no one else can do because of who you are?”
This might be a clue and it could translate into something that can tie-in with your life purpose. When you reflect on what your natural talents and strengths are, you are one step closer to finding your purpose.
When you were growing up, what skills were you able to pick up quickly and easily? What made you stand out as a child? There are things you are naturally good at – something that requires little effort on your part.
Are you able to recall something that impacted you so deeply that it drove you to take action? This could be an indication of where your passion and purpose might be.
This question forces you to pay attention to your heart’s desires and what you discover to be significant to you.
Growing up, you might have witnessed some injustice, prejudice, or pain that you could not live with. These events in your life shape your personality and values.
What irks you to the point that you want to go out and make a change to something? Being able to recognize this will point you in the direction of your life’s purpose.
Another strategy is to figure out what motivates you and where you put in the extra effort in your life.
What is it that makes you lose track of time? When you enjoy doing something, you get so immersed in it that time gets distorted.
It could be watching a movie or reading a good book. Writing? Painting? A meaningful project? Making baked eggplant? Are you playing with your kids or guiding them with their homework?
Consider a time when you were so engrossed in something that you neglected to glance at the clock. These are the activities that bring you infinite pleasure, and while you are at it, time flies.
Get in touch with the things, ideas, or activities that ignite your passion.
When you’re passionate about something, the line between work and play usually starts to blur. Purpose might be the indomitable spirit that guides you in the right direction.
But it is passion that will provide you with the motivation to keep moving toward your true calling. It is the energy that gets you out of bed early in the morning.
Make a list of your interests. Then pick one or two to focus on to pique your curiosity and invigorate you.
Remember, passions don’t belong on the shelf; you should make time for them and pursue them.
The question above puts focus on your passion and gives you an indication of what your life’s purpose is. This question forces you to think of the opposite: things that you dislike or avoid doing.
Sometimes it’s easier to use the elimination method to weed out things that clearly don’t match your goals and passions.
There are many out there stuck in jobs that don’t match their ambitions or passions. These people often sit in their corner office thinking, “How did I get here?” Find out what you don’t want to be and move forward with the life you want.
“Who don’t you enjoy being around?” is another question that will reveal who you are and thus your life’s purpose.
Is there a category of people that you feel uncomfortable being around?
Perhaps it is because of their personality? Or values? This will lead you to learn more about yourself.
You may even notice patterns in your dislikes that will lead you to your true calling in life.
Ikigai is an age-old Japanese concept of finding purpose in life. It is the combination of the Japanese words ‘iki’ (life) and ‘gai’ (worth).
So, ikigai is not only about discovering your life purpose. It’s also about devoting oneself to tasks that make you happy while also giving you a sense of fulfilment.
It is what motivates you to get out of bed every morning and keeps you going and moving forward.
Ikigai is when you can achieve a balance between self-fulfillment, societal contribution, earning a living, and doing what you love.
The Venn diagram below sums it all up:
According to the diagram, your passion is the junction of what you love and what you are good at. And what you love and what the world needs is your mission.
Your calling is at the intersection of what the world requires and what you can earn a living doing.
Finally, your vocation is at the crossroads of what you are good at and what you can be compensated for. To find your Ikigai, there are four questions that you need to ask yourself:
These 4 questions are similar to questions 1-4 which you have answered earlier.
Developing your life statement might take some time. Be patient with the process. Just be assured that it is worthwhile investing some time on this.
A quick and easy way to begin is by considering who you are and who you want to be.
Take note of when you are the happiest and most contented. That is the moment when you discover what you find yourself drawn to. And that would probably be connected to your life purpose.
Your life purpose will open up a path which allows you to reach your fullest potential. When you’re living your life purpose and putting your best foot forward, the world becomes a better place right away.
This alignment created by you and your life purpose will lead you to live an exemplary life. A life that will be able to inspire others.
In closing, I want to leave you with a quote by American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“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.”