When we were kids, we lived a worry-free life. All we had to do was play, eat, sleep, make a mess, learn, and kiss mommy and daddy. When asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, common answers were: doctor- so I can save lives; teacher- so I can educate the youth; policeman- so I can serve and protect the country.
But as we grew up and entered adulthood, we discovered that answering that question is not as simple as it seemed back then. Life is really not just about what your profession is, but about a deeper purpose- What gives your life meaning?
While some may dismiss looking for your life purpose as dramatic and overrated, research shows that living a purpose-driven life leads to positive aging or reduced mortality risk. People who know what they are living for live longer!
The University of Minnesota defines life purpose as consisting of the central motivating aims of life- the reasons why you get up in the morning:
“Purpose can guide life decisions, influence behavior, shape goals, offer a sense of direction, and create meaning. For some people, purpose is connected to vocation—meaningful, satisfying work. For others, their purpose lies in their responsibilities to their family or friends. Others seek meaning through spirituality or religious beliefs. Some people may find their purpose clearly expressed in all these aspects of life.”
Knowing your true purpose in life is never easy. You have to know yourself more deeply and evaluate your desires and dreams to know the answer. It takes time and energy, but it’s worth knowing.
Here are 6 steps towards living a purpose-filled life:
If you are in the process of finding your purpose, you need to allot the necessary time to be able to focus on it. Don’t let the daily grind of life distract you from discovering what you are meant to do- After all, without a clear goal, you might end up being busy doing the wrong things.
Focus might be a mental process, but your physical environment and lifestyle practices can make a big impact on whether or not you will be able to do this successfully. Here are practical things you can do to help improve your focus:
- Declutter– it’s hard to focus with all the mess, so make sure you do daily cleaning and organizing. This can apply not only to your physical environment and workstation, but also to your computer and smartphone screen and files, and your email inbox.
- Find your quiet area or working zone– if you ever want to meditate, ponder carefully or reflect, have a designated area for that. Ideally, choose a room with less noise and human traffic, and where you can place a table for your own use. Or if you are an outdoors person, prepare a spot or corner in your garden, where you can go when you want to do some thinking.
- Have a balanced diet, exercise, get enough sleep– healthy lifestyle practices ensure that your body and brains are functioning well so you have the energy to move towards your goals.
Be kind to yourself
It’s good to hold yourself to a high standard but remember to be kind to yourself. There’s no need to tear yourself down over every mistake, especially when they are beyond your control.
Do you do any of these things- Comparing yourself to others who are more accomplished than you, getting frustrated instantly when things do not work well according to your plan, or blaming yourself for things that go wrong?
Stop these self-deprecating habits! Each of our timeline is different, some may accomplish success earlier, while others will have to wait until later on in life.
You cannot rush, force and cheat success. Trust the process and always make space for growth so you’ll go further into knowing your purpose in life.
Be aware of your values
It’s hard to know your life’s purpose if you don’t know yourself. This is also one of the reasons why a lot of people feel lost and empty. Self-love is the most important, and a strong spirituality will lead you to it.
Here are ways to know yourself deeper:
- Spend more me-time– this will strengthen your character, so you will not depend on people easily. Also, you’ll be able to enjoy your own company.
- Take a day out with nature- connecting with nature is good for your mental health and will also help you meditate.
- Keep a gratitude journal- feel blessed and grateful for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have.
- Stop comparing yourself and pleasing other people- you’ll be able to reconnect with yourself once you appreciate yourself.
- Build a strong, inner foundation for your life to help overcome the challenges and shortcomings you face.
Have ears that listen & a heart that understands
Some people hear, but they don’t really understand. That’s why they don’t see the bigger picture of what’s happening in their lives. If you want to find your purpose, understand every situation in your life.
Don’t let any experience go to waste- reflect on each one and try to examine what they are telling you. Keep in mind though to be as optimistic as possible in interpreting different situations.
One of the best ways to grow is by learning from the experiences of others.
Listen, truly listen, to what others have to say, and know their stories. When you listen to the stories of others, you get to see them in a different light, you hear perspectives that are different from your own, you get exposed to a different way of thinking, and you can learn from others who grew up in a different environment from you.
Thanks to technology, you can now connect with and learn from people all around the globe. Join Facebook groups, follow inspiring people on social media, visit pages that discuss topics that interest you, take online classes, watch positive TED Talk and YouTube videos, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, read ebooks, attend webinars- learning from other people has never been easier!
Give & forgive
It’s hard to find your life’s purpose if you are full of hatred, burden and selfishness. You have to let go of the negative emotions first, before you’ll progress in life. Dark energy is what blinds you from seeing the beauty of life and the purpose that awaits you.
Just as you learn from those around you, be open to sharing your stories and experiences with others too. Create a learning ecosystem around you, whether physically or virtually. You can use different social media platforms to influence people all over the world too.
When your goal is to sincerely help others, it’s easy to build your network and keep your sharing and learning going.
Live with passion
“Do what makes you happy”- you may have heard this a thousand times already, and this advice has been shared across the generations because there’s wisdom in it.
When people pursue their passion, that is usually how they end up finding their life’s purpose. So explore your interests, find other people who like the same things and take the time to do what you enjoy.
Is there an issue or social injustice that bothers you? Check what you can do to help address it- donate your time, money and talent to causes that you care about; work on a solution to the problem; and in the process, do your part in making the world a better place.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to pursue big dreams for your efforts to be worth it. I have a friend who anonymously sponsors the education of a child from a third-world country. It might not be earth-shattering but it sure means a brighter future to the child he is helping, doesn’t it?
So live your passion and in the process, you will most probably discover your purpose.
Finding your purpose in life is a wonderful journey. You may encounter challenges and struggles along the way, but remember that each step of the way is teaching you something new and worthwhile.
Do not underestimate the value of keeping your brain and body healthy- you need to be at your best physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for you to make the best decisions in life. Establish daily self-care routines, be kind to yourself, know yourself better, strengthen your character and pursue your passions.
Always remember that you don’t have to have all the answers now. Take life one day at a time, don’t stop learning and eventually, you’ll look back and realize that you’ve been on the right track all along.