Why is it so elusive to find our life purpose?
There are a bunch of valid reasons why you may not know your life’s purpose. I mean, the world is full of problems that might not have solutions any time soon. There are countless individuals whom we could help, or assist, or support.
Apps, games, celebrities, bills, politics, war, famine. Our ability to create change, or influence anything in a meaningful way, seems out of reach.
So what’s the point of even thinking about a life purpose?
I get it, you might be simply depleted and drained from life and don’t know where we’ll find the nerve to battle for what truly matters.
Plus, we have so many interests, dreams, and goals, with very limited time to do it all in. Right?
This is how our life purpose is put, sometimes permanently, on the back seat.
If you are one of the braves, who decides to tackle this overwhelming task of finding your life purpose, here are some tips and questions that helped me along the way:
What Fuels You?
As children, we have hours upon hours of play. There’s no limit to our imaginations or what we can in an instant, be, do, or have. It’s all for fun anyways.
It’s easy to pick your favorite activity and get lost in a state of FLOW. Many are familiar with Maslow’s work on this topic, who describes peak experiences as “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter.” (1) Pretty sexy, huh?
So one approach to discover your motivation is to ask yourself: What is the thing that touches you so profoundly that it drives you? What invigorates you? That thing you can’t wait to get back to, leave your work, that boring event, to immerse yourself in. (No, watching TV is not a valid answer.)
What Pisses You Off?
Just like what fuels you can be a great motivator, so is what you are trying to avoid.
There is not secret with this. We either want to go towards pain or avoid pleasure. So, the things that you despise, can also point you in the direction of your path and purpose.
The reason I started seeking answers wasn’t because I was perfectly content with my life. My job sucked, my relationships were lame or horribly painful, my health was in the dumps, and I felt miserable every single day. Out of those, the work situation was the one I was most desperate about.
Accounting isn’t a bad gig. It just wasn’t for me. Going to school for it was a way to please my mom and seek financial security. The tedious regime of the profession was not my jam. At all. Had to find that out the hard way, after going into serious debt for a degree that I hated. Sigh.
I remember clearly studying “The Power of Intention” by Wayne Dyer. My gateway drug into the personal development world? Indeed.
In it, he talked about acting as if you’re living the life you were intended to live, even if you feel confused about this thing called purpose. What?! Fine.
So I started imagining what would be a cool thing for me to do. First off, it would NOT involve sitting at a desk all day. I would involve movement and something related to wellness. I started looking and found a Pilates training nearby. Timing was perfect. I signed up.
In order to train, I had to trim back the hours at work a bit (win!). Although I didn’t know what would happen next, it felt good to know I had an exit strategy that felt aligned with my intention. Did I know my purpose then? NO. But it was an awesome step in the right direction.
What are you willing to give up?
Feeling depleted crunching numbers was an easy thing to give up. The prestige that came from having a “respectable” title and the income and benefits were not so easy. It was a depressing, yet money-safe, situation.
Although it may sound like a no-brainer decision, it actually wasn’t. The anxiety that I felt giving up my paycheck was real. It was the first time I had to confront my scarcity mindset (more on that another time).
The question I asked myself was: In five years from now, nothing changes, would you be happy?
Dang it! No. I wouldn’t be happier. I would be resentful and bitter. I literally saw myself, 5 years into that possible future, angry and attached to a bottle of booze to try to quiet down the small voices telling me to quit.
The image scared me straight. With a shaky voice and with a resignation letter I still don’t think was well-written, I sailed into the unknown. As I walked out, I knew it was the right decision as I felt the world lift off my shoulders.
Good riddance. Hello new possibilities.
It was a bit unnerving at first, but I quickly figured out how to make ends meet. Being smart about how to make money is one of my strengths. Natural-born hustler here.
Your turn: What is making you unhappy? What are you afraid to give up? What would happen if you do?
Often, the stories in our head are not true. Just there to keep us stuck in the known, no matter how sad that reality might be. It takes courage to confront those inner-lies and see that we’ve had the power all along to unapologetically seek and find our deepest joy.
To this day, my inner peace and happiness are at the helm of my soul’s ship. They set the tone and the course for everything I do. Non-negotiable.
Who Do You Want to Help?
Sometimes, it’s not even about us. I mean, we can easily get stuck in all the ways our lives could be better.
Sometimes, we just have to take on wanting to help someone else for us to find the compass towards our purpose.
Is it an organization that you believe in? Is it a group of people who are being underserved and overlooked? Is it a problem that you have overcome that you want to help people solve as well?
By making sense of the particular individual or individuals you need to help or empower, you just might be able to effectively discover your intrinsic motivators.
How will you help?
Maybe you already know how to be of great service. For the rest of you, it’ll be a journey of discovery. More skills? More experience?
To discover your motivation, you have to make sense of how you can best utilize your interests and aptitudes to accomplish your one of a kind objectives and take care of your special issues.
Make a list of what you already know and how it can be applied towards your cause. Make another list of what other knowledge you might need in order to achieve more of what you are intending.
All together now:
Finding your life purpose is a life-long journey. What resonated with you years ago, might not do so today. Similarly, what you are discovering about yourself today, might shift and change over time. It’s okay to take it all in stride while enjoying the journey.
It’s recommended to pause and reevaluate regularly. Nothing worth doing is easy, and while exploring these types of questions might be simple, it certainly doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy.
Expect to be overwhelmed, frustrated, and challenged, and maybe even defeated along the way.
Take deep breaths. Be kind to yourself. Setting the intention and asking the Big Questions are the most important steps. Make happiness a priority. Everything else will follow.
There are many ways to get this incredible clarity and set off on your own deliciously fulfilling journey and have a huge impact in the world, or at least in your sense of peace and happiness.
What I have laid out for you is but a fragment of the many ways in which people find their soul’s calling. And truth be told, sometimes we need a little help along the way to make it happen, maybe a little faster.
Helping you get super clear on what your purpose is, what’s holding you back, and what to do to get there is my jam – my undeniable soul purpose. I love it. It loves me back.
Because of what I’m able to experience everyday in terms or joy and satisfaction, I’m encouraging you to do the hard work and figure it out. Here to help –