The directive to “find your purpose” has come under some scrutiny lately. It can feel overwhelming — do we really only have one purpose? Of course the answer is no, and yet, studies show those who feel a sense of purpose are happier and feel more driven in work and in life.
Purpose doesn’t have to be so daunting. In fact, it’s possible to connect with our purpose during small moments throughout the day that help us focus and be more present, happier, and productive. We asked members of the Thrive community to share the ways they stay in tune with their purpose, and they had some great strategies and daily practices to stay motivated and act with intention.
Do something creative
“When we put pressure on ourselves to fit into the definition of the word ‘purpose,’ ‘passion,’ ‘happiness,’ ‘beautiful,’ ‘perfect,’ we set ourselves up for failure. It is like turning a piece of the puzzle in all directions to try to make it fit, until we realize we have the wrong piece in our hand. When we express our creativity, we feel a sense of contentment. Creativity can take many forms in our lives — it is a way of thinking about what we do, and it is the journey, not the destination. Creativity is making a nice dinner for friends, finding the right solution to a problem, or helping someone else achieve something. Creativity is the blood running through our veins. When we are creative we feel a sense of clarity, and we are more likely to make the right choices.”
—Gina McIntosh, self-development facilitator, France
Help someone else
“My purpose involves serving others who, like me, live with a mental illness. I tap into my purpose every day by doing something positive for my self-care and also by connecting with others who live with the same challenges I experience. Extending a hand to others reminds me why I do what I do, and that I’m not alone in my experiences.”
—Teresa Colón, mental health advocate and writer, Mountain House, CA
Set an intention
“I try to create a one or two-word intention for the day, dependent on the task at hand. If I am facilitating a workshop that day, it might be ‘wisdom and inspiration.’ If I must have a difficult conversation with a friend or loved one, it might be ‘grace and strength.’ At the end of the day, I reflect on whether if I lived up to these words of aspiration and intention.”
—Tricia Wolanin, clinical psychologist, author, and yoga instructor, Mildenhall, UK
Let someone you love know you care
“I’m very relationship driven. My family, boyfriend, and closest friends fuel my days. So, to tap into small moments of purpose throughout my day, I tap into my relationships. I will send them a note to let them know I love them or to wish them a good day ahead.”
—Melissa Muncy, content marketing, San Francisco, CA
Just start writing
“To find my purpose, I use Julia Cameron’s ‘Morning Pages’ exercise every day. The exercise is as follows: When you wake up in the morning, write three pages about whatever pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be good or particularly insightful. It can even be, ‘I don’t know what to write.’ The goal is to keep the pen to the paper. I find that once I get past the brain drain, my purpose for the day will emerge by the time I reach the third page. This will then give me an intention that I remind myself of throughout the day. If you do this every day, you will start to notice similarities in your intentions, which will give you insight into what your purpose is in life.”
—Crystal Nicholls, performer and teacher, London, U.K.
Stay true to your mission statement
“Having a mission statement helps ensure the ship is aligned to the course. Mine is ‘educate, empower, and empathize.’ The daily reminders for me, as a tech ethic, are: Always look for opportunities to educate and empower people, and look to connect the new people I meet to my growing network, so there is a multiplier of ideas and connections.”
—Ashwin Krishnan, cybersecurity and tech ethics evangelist, San Jose, CA
Find nuggets of wisdom
“On days when it is particularly challenging to identify my purpose, I remind myself that I am where I am for a reason. I try to find small nuggets of lessons or wisdom from every situation or adversity. I use quiet moments to reflect on life — where I’ve been, where I’m going, and what small changes I can make now.”
—Adylene Planer, knowledge management consultant, Sydney, Australia
Tap into your magic moment
“I tap into my purpose during my ‘magic moment.’ What is a magic moment? It’s when you look at the clock and the time displayed is your birthday’s month and day. For me, my magic moment is a powerful reminder of my purpose. Seeing my birthday gives me pause to reflect on why I was born, and how I’m aligning my actions with my purpose (or it’s a reminder to get back on track).”
—Laura Gmeinder, business coach and motivational speaker, Oconomowoc, WI
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