Finding Purpose Is the Key to Living Your Best Life
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and the host of the Mentally Strong People podcast.
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
The combination of a successful career, a loving family, and a strong social network may seem like the recipe for a perfect life. However, even those who can check each of those boxes might feel like something is missing—and that “something” is their purpose in life.
“Finding your purpose” is more than just a cliché or a dream that will never be fulfilled. It’s actually a tool for better, happier, healthier life that too few people attempt to use.
Only around 25% of Americans adults cite having a clear sense of purpose about what makes their lives meaningful, according to one analysis of the subject in The New York Times, while 40% either claim neutrality on the subject, or say they don’t.
Why Do You Need a Sense of Purpose?
A 2010 study published in Applied Psychology found that individuals with high levels of eudemonic well-being—which involves having a sense of purpose along with a sense of control and a feeling like what you do is worthwhile—tend to live longer. Other researchers found that well-being might be protective for health maintenance. In that research, people with the strongest well-being were 30 percent less likely to die during the eight-and-a-half-year follow-up period.
There’s also research that links feeling as if you have a sense of purpose to positive health outcomes, such as fewer strokes and heart attacks, better sleep, and a lower risk of dementia and disabilities.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Research and Personality found that individuals who feel a sense of purpose make more money than individuals who feel as though their work lacks meaning.
So the good news is, you don’t have to choose between having wealth and living a meaningful life. You might find the more purpose you have, the more money you’ll earn.
With all of those benefits, it’s clear that it’s important to find purpose and meaning in your life. But purpose and meaning is not something that can be determined quickly.
The process requires plenty of self-reflection, listening to others, and finding where your passions lie. These seven strategies can help you reveal or find your purpose so you can begin living a more meaningful life.
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If there’s just one habit you can create to help you find your purpose, it would be helping others.
Researchers at Florida State University and Stanford found that happiness and meaningfulness had overlap but were different: Happiness was linked to being a taker before a giver, whereas meaningfulness went more with being a giver than a taker. Being the “giver” in a relationship connected people with having a more purposeful life.
Altruistic behaviors could include volunteering for a nonprofit organization, donating money to causes you care about, or simply helping out the people around you on a day-to-day basis.
Whether you decide to spend two Saturdays a month serving meals in a soup kitchen, or you volunteer to drive your elderly neighbor to the grocery store once a week, doing something kind for others can make you feel as though your life has meaning.
Do you feel lost or as if something is missing in your life? Maybe you want to make a bigger difference in the world than you feel you are, but you aren’t sure how. So many of us walk through life, feeling numb and desperate for a deeper connection, but aren’t sure how to get it.
The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out what your purpose is, but if you don’t know what your purpose is than you don’t know why you are here, and it can be hard to keep going.
I know this feeling all too well. I used to suffer immense inner turmoil while trying hard to find my purpose. I was in a job I hated, working in advertising under fluorescent lights, and suffocating from the stale corporate air. I saw people like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake shine so brightly when they performed. I wanted what they had, infectious passion, a thirsty love for life and an unyielding connection to their work.
I struggled daily to figure out my purpose, but it wasn’t until I took a step back and realized that my purpose isn’t “figure-outable” from my head that I found a way to get there. I thought to myself, “Maybe the problem isn’t that I don’t know what my purpose is; the problem is the way I am trying to find my purpose.”
We can’t think our way into our life’s passion and purpose, we have to do our way in. This means taking steps towards what you want, and removing those things in your life that you don’t want. I left my successful corporate job on a mission to find my happy, and it came by taking one step at a time and exploring many different passions. If you are looking for your purpose and passion, stop looking and start doing. These steps will help you.
How to Find Your Purpose and Passion
1. Get More Action
You can’t think your way into finding your life purpose; you have to do your way into it. Take a mental note from Nike and Just Do It. The more we act, the more we get clear on things. So instead of overthinking it — Will this work out? Should I try that? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t make money at it? Start taking steps toward your goals and start trying new things. This will help you get out of your own way. I struggled for years trying to find out what my purpose was. This cycle only created a deeper lack of clarity. It wasn’t until I started doing that things changed for me. I began writing, and sent a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. The second I received the letter of acceptance was unlike any ever before, love flooded into my heart and I knew that this was what I had to do with my life. You see though, I had to start writing to learn that my biggest passion was indeed writing. That only came with consistent action.
The experience is the reward; clarity comes through the process of exploring. Action is where you get results.
2. Drop From Your Head to Your Heart
Your heart is your best tool to access your true purpose and passion. Ask yourself what you love? Start taking steps to do what you love. When you are inspired and connected to your happy self, inspiration floods your heart and soul. When you lead from your heart, you are naturally more joyful and motivated to explore. By doing what you love, you will be inspired and gain insights into what brings you the most joy.
3. Break Up with The “ONE”
Many of us struggle because we try to find that ONE thing that we are meant to do; but trying to find only one thing is the reason why we feel like something is missing. The notion that we have only one thing we are meant for limits us from fulfilling our greatness. Take me for example; I have six different job titles. I’m a life coach, travel writer, author, speaker, teacher, mentor, designer, and each thing I do brings me joy, but none of these are my purpose, they are my passions. So start getting in touch with your passions! When you lead a passionate life you are living your life on purpose.
Let go of thinking there is only one purpose for you and embrace the idea that our purpose in life is to love life fully by putting ourselves into our life! This means we jump in and try new things; we stop resisting the unknown and we fully engage in what is happening right here, where we are. To lead a purposeful life, follow your passions. When we live a passion-filled life we are living on purpose, and that is the purpose of life.
That feeling that something is missing goes away when you lead a passion-filled life. The need to seek our purpose comes from a lack of passion. When you don’t feel connected to your life, you lack purpose and passion. To fix this emptiness simply add more passion. To boil it down, remember this simple equation:
Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life
Consider that the real purpose of anyone’s life is to be fully involved in living. Try to be present for the journey and fully embrace it. Soon you will be oozing with passion, and you will feel so purposeful and fulfilled you will wonder how you lived life without it. Enjoy the journey into your own awesome life.
Graduation is a happy occasion, an important moment in life, and a big achievement. But, it is also a crucial juncture in life. When I was asked to speak at a baccalaureate service for local high school graduates, my message, quoting John Piper, was simple:
Don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life!
This message is important for us all. I’m sure, however, that wasting your life is not at the top of your to-do list. If you are wasting your life, you probably don’t mean to be!
You might be wondering then—am I wasting my life? How do I know? Well, in order for something to be wasted it must be spent in such a way that it does not accomplish its intended purpose.
Your life does have a purpose. And if you don’t want to waste your life, you need to know what your life is meant for.
Where to Find Your Purpose
The Bible, as God’s word spoken to you, is the place to turn to find your purpose. And I’ll make it even simpler: you can find your purpose in one short verse. 1 Corinthians 8:6 says:
For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
We are made by God, and we are made for God. That’s the answer. You exist for God. Your purpose is to spend your life for God, with Jesus at the center of everything you are and do. Unfortunately, there are two ways you can fail to do this.
Two Ways to Miss Your Purpose
Way 1: Spend Your Life on Nothing (No God)
I met Chris in 6th grade, and we were friends through high school and even through college. In high school and his early college years, Chris was bright, fun, creative, artistic, and well connected. But later in college, Chris became aimless, isolated, and joyless; one of the last times I talked with him he was stuck in a dead-end job that was not related to any of his talents, education, or his passions.
Over the course of our friendship, we had a few spiritual conversations. Chris was involved in youth band at church, he went on Christian retreats, and once when we were camping he told me that he believed in some higher force or the possibility of a god, but it was clear that Chris had no faith in Jesus Christ.
Chris’s problem was that he hadn’t come to terms with 1 Corinthians 8:5-6. He didn’t know what he existed for, or rather who he existed for. He had no passion for something greater than himself. No vision past the present.
Maybe this describes you, too. A missing purpose, fading passion, a lack of commitment to Christ. Reader, find that passion by spending your life—and spend it for the sake of Christ! Spending it for something else leads up to the second way to miss your purpose:
Way 2: Spend Your Life on The Wrong Things (False gods)
If the first way to miss your purpose is to drift aimlessly with no target, no goal, no purpose, no intentionality, the second way is to be motivated, driven, passionate, and laser-focused on entirely the wrong goals. You can achieve all the wrong goals.
You can attain the American dream, you can climb the corporate ladder, but Jesus tells us that to spend yourself for this is foolishness.
In a brief parable, he tells us about a rich man who had so much stuff he had to build even larger barns to put it all in. He was fat and happy. Living large. But God calls this man a fool because he can’t take these riches with him when he dies. What’s more, all the wealth in the world wouldn’t prepare this man to meet God, because he spent his life serving himself.
Money will be spent, beauty will fade, power will be limited, fame will be forgotten, and entertainment and pleasure-seeking will fail to provide the joy that you long for in life. Don’t miss your purpose in life by spending it on the wrong things!
The Way to Achieve Your Purpose
The good news is that your life has real meaning and purpose, and you’ll find it in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, God the Son, died in the prime of his life – only 33 years old – never having sinned: not one impure thought, not one hateful word, not one white lie. A life perfectly dedicated to God.
That is a valuable life. A meaningful life. And the Bible says that Jesus laid down his own life for you and me. He sacrificed his perfect, meaningful life so that it could be applied to our imperfect and (seemingly) purposeless lives if we believe in him.
This is what we call the gospel – the good news of Jesus. Jesus spent his life for you so that you could spend your life for him. When you trust Jesus to save you from your sins he will do so, and he will give you a new life with incredible purpose and meaning. And there is great freedom to be found in this good news.
The measure of your life lies not in what you accomplish, or how much wealth you have accumulated, but in what Christ has accomplished, and in the riches of God’s grace. You can exist for God, through Jesus, whether you are mopping floors or marketing pharmaceuticals. In fact, the world needs both floor moppers and pharmaceutical marketers who will spend their lives to display the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
So, how will you spend your life? I pray you will spend it for Jesus.
Haley Hoffman Smith
Photo Credit: Yulia Nar
When Haley Hoffman Smith began creating motivational TikTok content, she didn’t expect the most common question that she gets asked. “How do I find my purpose?” flooded her comments and DM’s. She had created a TikTok video for a popular trend that reflected her growth trajectory from a purpose-less 15-year-old to her now, at 24, as a six figure entrepreneur signed with her dream talent agency in New York City. The video garnered over a million views and counting, spurring hundreds of requests for advice on how to find one’s life purpose.
Finding your purpose is a big question – probably, the biggest question most people ask themselves. Yet, according to a survey of 2000 Americans, only 10% of people are working the job they dreamed of back when they were teenagers. People cited many reasons, including financial limitations, lack of skills, or focusing on family, for this departure from pursuing their dream jobs.
The sense of existential dread that pervades upon the mere contemplation of one’s ‘life purpose’ is enough to fog clarity and spark anxiety. Some would argue that we all have just one purpose, while others, like Liisa Kyle Ph.D., will argue that we have multiple purposes that we fulfill throughout our lives. But one thing’s for sure: a sense of connection to one’s purpose is one of the most important considerations in our work, our passions, and our businesses.
It can even help us live longer. A study by Clearvue Health reported that purpose correlated significantly with mortality in a cohort of 8,419 adults. “Essentially, when you feel like you have something to live for, you actually may just live longer as a result,” the article stated. I spoke with Hoffman Smith to learn more about how she’s helping hundreds of people answer the million dollar question, “How do you find your purpose?”
1. Reflect On Your Excitement
It’s no secret that our answer to this question will come from some level of self-reflection. “When I sat down to create a five-day course, The Purpose Pilot, I knew I had to guide students through the right set of reflection questions to help them really understand themselves,” Hoffman Smith noted. “A major part of this was in seeing where their interests and passions converge.”
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Many of us dismiss our real life dream as merely just an ‘interest.’
“We’ve been encouraged to think of our passions as something that’s credible, that can lend itself to a career we feel comfortable in pursuing,” she adds. “But when we allow ourselves to look at our interests, we’re able to see the real dream that may be in our blind spot.”
In assessing these interests, pay close attention to what really excites you. “The course teaches what I call an ‘Energy Test,’ which is where you close your eyes and think through each passion and interest, and feel the energetic response in your body,” she shared. “What I’ve found is that thinking about one’s real dream and sense of purpose will feel akin to taking a few shots of espresso! You have that capacity for renewed energy within you, if you light the flame in the right way.”
2. Understand & Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs
Identifying your sense of purpose would be far easier if there weren’t limitations in the way. In fact, that’s likely why you haven’t identified it yet. “What I’ve found is that deep down, we actually do all know what we were put on this Earth to do. But, that gets covered by years of invalidation. Your dream can be invalidated by your perception that it isn’t ‘realistic,’ that you aren’t good at it (think: you wanted to be an actress but you never got the lead in a school play), or because you simply never saw anyone pursuing your dream in your immediate environment,” explained Hoffman Smith.
“You have to become aware of the voices in your head that say you ‘can’t’ do something, then figure out where those voices came from,” she said. To begin to do this in your own life, reflect on this question: “What did you want to be before the world told you that you couldn’t?”
3. Take Action
Confidence is built through taking action, which is why Hoffman Smith’s course concludes with what she calls a ‘Do It Day.’ “The concept is to choose one day – and plan ahead for it – in which you tackle that beginning business plan or your book or your passion with momentum,” she explained. “If you get to plan for it ahead of time, it feels almost like a holiday, and makes you more likely to take massive action.”
As for what the day entails, she recommends a third person approach. “If you had a friend with your big dream, what would you advise them to do to get started?” she says. “Sometimes, we gain clarity by putting some separation between us and our work.”
Ultimately, Hoffman Smith’s goal is to help people who feel the call to follow their big life dream once and for all. “Here’s a secret: your biggest life dream and your life’s purpose are the same thing. Don’t doubt what you know in your heart to be your calling.”
Do your goals really belong to you? Or are they simply a photocopy of external influences in our modern society?
Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley and Michael Beckwith share how you can differentiate between these two in the video above.
The Method That’s More Effective Than Visualization
There’s a fundamental problem with modern-day goal-setting. We often focus on what other people have and then we try to photocopy those goals into our own life.
But the problem with that is that those goals don’t really belong to us.
Michael Beckwith introduces a process called Visioning. Unlike other ways of goal-setting, visioning helps you discover what you are meant to do during the time you spend on this Earth.
Watch the video above where he explains how this technique trespasses the limitations of other goal-setting methods and helps you discover what your true life purpose is.
How Is Visualization Different Visioning?
While Visualization is a technique that can help you, it does have its limitations. You can only visualize what already exists.
The problem is that what already exists out there is not for you. Their destiny is not your destiny.
You have your own unique destiny
And it’s a destiny that you are not going to find scrolling through Pinterest, following in someone else’s footsteps, or in the advice of your mentors.
That’s why you can do everything right — make the perfect vision board, set SMART goals, work tirelessly in pursuit of a career, a family, a life — and still not be happy.
Your unhappiness doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t get what you wanted (in fact, you did). It’s simply a sign that the Universe has more in store for you.
It’s a call to action.
Visioning begins with the spiritual idea that there is planted within each and every one of us a powerful destiny. A powerful, unique way that the Universe wants to express itself. So instead of telling the Universe what we want, we instead ask a question. What is the Universe’s idea of my life?
How The Life Visioning Process Transforms Your Life
The Life Visioning Process is about manifesting from your soul, not from other models of success. At the end of the day, true success is internal.
It’s not about looking good to other people or living up to preconceived expectations (usually still built on other people’s beliefs).
It’s about expressing the highest version of yourself.
About Michael Bernard Beckwith
Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith is the Creator of the Life Visioning Process and the Founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, a multidenominational spiritual community with a congregation of over 9,000 members.
He was a featured teacher on The Secret, and he’s appeared on The Oprah Show, Dr. Oz, Larry King Live, and his own PBS special, The Answer is You. He’s also a spiritual pioneer who’s also served alongside the Dalai Lama and other New Thought Ministers in The Synthesis Dialogues.
Have you discovered a goal you set for yourself that belongs to someone else? Share it with us in a comment below.
Join Michael Beckwith’s Free Masterclass and discover how to go beyond traditional manifesting and live your soul’s purpose
In this Masterclass you’ll explore:
✅ Why you can’t manifest the things you really want. Discover why ‘visualizing’ for something too much actually pushes you further away from your desires.
✅ The difference between Manifesting vs True Manifesting. Understanding the difference will explain why achieving the things you think you want never results in deep fulfilling happiness.
✅ The 4 Stages of Spiritual Development and how you can use it as a roadmap to get to your next profound awakening even faster.
✅ Spiritual Shapeshifting: A beautiful 2-step practice of elevating areas of your life that you’re struggling with by transmuting the energy from another area of your life that’s working well.
Claim Your Free Spot Now, And Discover How To Truly Manifest From The Soul With Dr. Michael Beckwith
by Michael Beckwith
Michael Beckwith is a sought after meditation teacher, conference speaker, award-winning author, and internationally renowned spiritual teacher. He teaches Mindvalley’s free Masterclass on The Power of Visioning, which he created to help you fully embrace your connection to the divine and let the Universe serve through you. Beckwith founded the Agape International Spiritual Center, a trans-denominational community of thousands of local members and global live streamers, which is highly regarded for its cultural, racial, and spiritual diversity. He also participated alongside the Dalai Lama and other New Thought Ministers in The Synthesis Dialogues.
Knowing the purpose of one’s existence in the world is a lingering thought for everyone. Some people may interpret it as a quest, as they try out new adventures and learn new skills . Meanwhile, others may view it as a mystery that slowly reveals itself as they spend their time on Earth. They say that their complete realization of their purpose would not come in this life but the next.
On the other hand, there is a group of people who may tend to be passive about knowing their purpose, yet they still ponder about it occasionally. There is also a group of people that have little regard for this idea and tend to get buried in their everyday whirlwind of activities.
Knowing your purpose is an advantage
Many factors, such as uniqueness, tendencies, and environment, may affect an individual’s appreciation of their life’s meaning. These aspects also influence the approach an individual takes in searching for the purpose of their lives . Nonetheless, it would be a great advantage to have a purpose-driven life. It allows one to set their goals on a short, medium, and long-term basis.
Daily tasks can even be set, allowing the person to celebrate small achievements. Like any other good soldier, it would be best to go out in the field knowing your mission. It would provide direction in one’s personal life, and coherence with the people around them, especially their loved ones.
Getting to know your life’s meaning
The meaning and purpose of life cannot be answered or explained in one sentence. This is a continuing lesson that may twist and turn as one grows old. How can an individual realize his life’s purpose? Like any other lesson, an individual may learn it through his own experience, or from the experience of others. He can also use simple guides and systems to navigate him through this life-long journey.
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” – Oprah Winfrey
Experience is the best teacher
It is undeniable that the best professor in life remains to be experienced. Nothing beats immersing yourself in the actual situation where you sense the feeling of triumph or defeat. Decisions that lead to our demise are usually the most unforgettable teachers in life. Tragedies make us look back at what we could have done better to avoid or overcome our setbacks.
It may also tell us that we are not going where we need to be and that our reason for existence is not being attained. Inversely, success also builds good habits. Usually, we are successful because we are adept at the particular endeavor that we engage in. It can be closely related to happiness and point us to our ultimate purpose. However, we must be on the lookout for misinterpreting happiness as pleasure.
The problem and painful thing about learning through experience is that we would have to go through the reality of struggle and pain, along with our loved ones. Of course, learning from experience can never be totally deferred as long as we live, but we may consider learning through others’ experiences as well.
Learning through others
It would be more convenient to learn your life’s purpose through the experience of others. This would require time to reflect on others’ knowledge and stories and relate them to your own life. Unknowingly, we have been applying this through formal and informal education. Then again, this may not be as effective as the former method yet can still be powerful.
Angel numbers: what do they mean?
For example: Have you been seeing the numbers 555 frequently? Perhaps in billboards, clocks, or devices? You may have seen this combination in a series. This was not a coincidence as 5-5-5 are angel numbers. These are messages that convey something deeper and are leading you to your purpose in life.
In general, 555 is a symbol of positive change, and chances are you will be entering a new phase of your life for the better. According to the ancient 555 meaning , it is related to the creation and the wholeness of the human being. Similar to our 5 senses, 5 extremities, and 5 fingers, the number 5 connotes that we are nearing our self-realization.
“Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.” – Washington Irving
A lesson from any field can be learned from our own or others’ experiences, but how do we know which lessons tell us our life’s meaning? The topic of life’s purpose may be too enormous for an individual to handle and may require the guidance of a Higher Being or system. Some people have been enlightened by angel numbers.
These are actual numbers that we sense, seemingly at random, regularly. It is said that these numerical figures are messages from the universe to align us with our ultimate purpose.
This system works on the idea that each creature, entity, and event, has a universal numerical value. It has been used since ancient times and has guided our ancestors even before the first ship set sail. Knowing our universal numerical value as well as our environment’s and being receptive to angel numbers will guide us in unveiling our life’s purpose.
Finding your true purpose in life may be a mesmerizing journey that would take up much of your effort and resources. Whether it be finding your guiding light, figuring out what the universe is telling you, or simply paving your own path, would give you a better grasp of where you need to go, and that your quest is leading you to a positive transformation.
It’s about enjoying the journey and the destination.
It’s the question every child is asked at least once in their young life: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many adults continue to ask themselves this very same question as they sit in ongoing meetings and commuter traffic.
In fact, 1/3 of working employees aren’t exactly thrilled with their career, according to the 2016 Industry and Productivity Report released by the all-in-one digital workhub Bolste. Nearly 15% of people reported feeling “indifferent” about their current job, 9% of those polled claimed to be “somewhat unhappy, unmotivated and bored,” 4% were “extremely unhappy” and 7% didn’t know how they felt (which can’t be a good sign).
Whether you’re looking for new employment or heading back into the workforce, you may be considering an entirely different career path. Yet finding this new route may feel as if you’re driving in circles without a navigation system.
“Finding your life’s purpose is a lot like discovering breadcrumbs in the forest,” says Shannon Kaiser, life coach and author of Adventures for Your Soul. “You have to follow each crumb, inkling and inspirational drop that is revealed to you. And as you take more steps and nourish the nudges of inspiration that come to you, it will become more clear.”
Here, Kaiser and two other life and career coaches point the way on how to discover your mission:
A clever way to figure out your purpose is to turn the process into a game, advises Kaiser. “Like in the game ‘Truth or Dare,’ ask yourself some truth statements, such as, ‘What did I want to be when I was younger?’ ‘When do I feel most like my best self?’ ‘What brings me the most joy?'” she states. “Then, dare yourself to take action.”
For example, perhaps you had always dreamed of becoming a singer. While becoming the next Adele may not be the most realistic goal, you might consider taking voice lessons.
Keep in mind that your personal Q&A sessions will take a number of tries before you reach your endgame. “Most people do some reflection about what they want, then take action, then learn about themselves through the experience that action offers, then reflect again and so on,” says Janet Scarborough Civitelli, Ph.D., a psychologist and career coach for VocationVillage.com. “This is an ongoing process with multiple steps rather than a single shot deal.”
“Placing your attention on your effortless actions helps you connect to your creative flow and higher purpose,” says Gabrielle Bernstein, motivational speaker, life coach and author of The Universe Has Your Back. She explains than an effortless action is something you do by choice. “For instance, when I was in high school, I ran the regional youth group since I loved being a leader in a spiritual community,” she says. “Decades later, this is my profession.”
Bernstein suggests jotting down a few chosen activities and then taking practice steps each day for the next 40 days.
Understanding what reinvigorates you versus what makes you feel drained is key to charting a new course, states Bernstein. “The value of focusing on the things that energize you is that you’re inspired, empowered and thinking creatively,” she continues. “When you’re energized, you’re open to attracting new purpose-driven opportunities.”
Dr. Scarborough Civitelli advises putting your worries on hold and calming your mind before heading into the imagination zone. “People make better decisions when they are thinking clearly,” she says. “Spend time in nature, practice yoga, meditate, pray, travel or do whatever brings you joy and sparks creativity.”
“Take your personality into account when choosing strategies to decide your life’s purpose,” states Dr. Scarborough Civitelli. For example, some people learn through reading, while some feel more engaged when talking directly with others. “You are at your best when you use an approach that feels natural to you,” she says.
If visualization is a preferred tool, Kaiser suggests writing a letter to yourself— the person you will be five or 10 years from now — and ask her who you are becoming. “Your future self is the one who has it figured out — she is no longer struggling or off track,” explains Kaiser. “Write down your goals, and say, ‘Future self, I want this,’ and your future self connects with you present self to make it happen much faster. It’s kind of like writing your wish list to the universe.”
While effort produces results, continuously being on the hunt can create unnecessary stress and inner turmoil. “In many cases, I see people pushing and controlling their actions to show themselves — and the world — that they are worthy,” states Bernstein. “Ego makes us think that our purpose is outside of ourselves hidden behind a credential, a job or an altruistic mission. But I’ve come to understand that you don’t actually go out and find your purpose. Instead, your purpose is meant to find you.”
In other words, it’s a combination of putting together your experiences, weeding out the expectations of others (i.e. your family, your social circle, society) and tapping into your inner truth.
Yes, you may come to the realization that there are a few paths with your name on them — and that’s a good thing. “I believe most people have multiple purposes rather than just one,” explains Dr. Scarborough Civitelli. “People get locked into thinking there is just one right answer — like finding a romantic soulmate — but I think life is more complicated and less rigid than that.”
When you find a calling (or two), do yourself a favor and refrain from judgment. “Some people are guided to serve the world through their career, some people are guided to bring children to the world, some people are guided to radical acts of forgiveness,” adds Bernstein. “It doesn’t matter what action you’re guided to — all that matters is that in some way your intention is to bring more love to the world.”
Let me paint you a picture.
You arrive at work tired from a restless night worrying about a high-stakes proposal or how to ask for a well-deserved raise. A single glance at your stuffed inbox and your message button blinking a menacing shade of red makes your pulse quicken with anxiety. It’s been months since you’ve had time to let off steam at the gym.
You pause to wonder what it would be like to use the 30-plus vacation days you’ve accrued over the past two years. Or to have a job that offered flexibility, respect and empowerment.
With the morning’s first meeting starting in minutes, there’s no time to linger on that daydream. Instead, you hammer out emails that begin, “Sorry for the delayed response, but I’ve been crazy busy.” It’s barely 8 a.m. and you’re already overwhelmed. Your body aches with fatigue.
You might be suffering from what I call, “work sickness.”
It arises when, infected by fears about job security and money, we work without full engagement or real passion. Driven by angst about not having enough, we make it our life’s mission to pursue wealth, even when we’re not passionate about the process. When the deadline for that high-stakes proposal looms, it seems getting there will leave you utterly drained. A difficult conversation with a colleague leaves you seething and wishing you could flee. All the while, your inbox keeps getting bigger. You feel as if you’re treading water at a furious pace yet barely staying afloat.
We work more, play less and neglect the very reason we strive for success in the first place: to experience joy in life.
When day-to-day actions and reactions stem from fear and from focusing on all the things we don’t want to have happen in life, it not only has a negative impact on the body, but also creates a division between mind and soul. It disrupts balance, saps creativity and energy, and impedes the pursuit of personal passions. It affects productivity, morale and even how we interact with each other—all the while robbing us of time and happiness. It eclipses the joy of working with a sense of obligation, self-sacrifice and a lack of control.
As the VP of product management at a digital media delivery provider, the long hours I clocked felt pointless. Convincing more people to watch TV on their smartphones contradicted my fundamental beliefs about the importance of face-to-face human connections. The environment was toxic, yet I was fighting for the job security to support my lifestyle, which I loved.
But I ached to devote my time to something I felt more viscerally passionate about.
Over time, my frustration grew. I lost my filter and stopped refraining from throwing up my hands in disgust or telling people I wasn’t happy. My attitude caught up with me and I was laid off.
The layoff forced me to develop a new perspective. I was a blank slate. A career coach helped me focus on what my innate gifts are, what I do well and what I love doing.
In the trenches of the corporate world, it’s hard to see past where you are. You have to confront your fears to find your purpose—because without purpose, we leave ourselves susceptible to the anxiety-driven, going-nowhere-fast career.
Find your passion with these four steps:
1. Dig deep.
Ask questions instead of creating conclusions. Questions lead to growth and expansion; conclusions lead to dead ends. Ask yourself: What am I thinking? What else is possible? Would I love this? And simply: Why?
2. Map your future.
Create a “passion plan” comprised of three lists: Companies that pique your interest, job descriptions that sound like fun and specific functions you would enjoy from job descriptions. Then, determine where to look, what additional training you might need, which companies to contact and what people to add to your network.
3. Do the 40/20.
Structure your time so that you work 40 hours, but budget 20 additional hours outside of your job to:
- Assemble your passion plan.
- Develop and refine your brand (LinkedIn profile, résumé, etc.).
- Network and talk to everyone. Take bold actions like making the calls you’ve always feared and developing ways to stand out from the crowd.
4. Look at the big picture.
Identify patterns and themes in your life. What have they prepared you to do? What do others come to you for advice about? What comes as easily to you as breathing but is a struggle for others?
Most important, make life about always being true to who you are and not who or what family, friends, teachers and society tell you that you should be. Only then will you find your passion. The more aligned your thoughts and beliefs are to your purpose and passions, the easier it becomes to make decisions, set and achieve goals, and keep “work sickness” from infecting your life.
Adam Leipzig has figured out that it takes five questions in under five minutes to discover what you are meant to do with your life.
TED Talk of the Week: Your Life Purpose in 5 Minutes | Adam Leipzig has figured out that it takes five questions in under five minutes to discover what you are meant to do with your life.
Film producer and, now motivational speaker Adam Leipzig attended his 25 th Yale college reunion. After speaking with old friends, he came to an astonishing conclusion – more than 80% of them were unhappy with their lives.
The majority of his former classmates were financially stable, highly educated and with life partners – yet they were dissatisfied. Leipzig then questioned the 20% who were leading happy and fulfilling lives and found that most of them had studied what interested them in college, not what they felt would propel them to the “right” career. He also discovered that they knew something about their very own life purpose.
This sweet and well-meaning TED Talk of the Week deduces how to find your life purpose by asking five simple questions:
1. Who are you?
2. What do you love to do?
3. Who do you do it for?
4. What do those people want or need?
5. How do they change as a result of what you give them?
Watch on to figure out the meaning behind these five questions and how finding your life purpose might be a lot easier than you think.
What is the purpose of life for you? Finding and clarifying your life purpose and core life intentions can help you to move with greater focus and clarity every day of your life. Especially in these challenging and uncertain times, setting clear intentions and developing and refining your life purpose can make it much easier to navigate stormy waters.
There are many ways to both find and develop your life purpose and intentions. Below are a number of useful resources to help you on this path of discovery. This information is provided to inspire you to be all that you can be and to lead an ever richer, fuller life.
A great way to start exploring your life purpose and intentions is to stop for a moment and ask yourself these two key questions:
What is most important to me in my life?
What are my deepest values and beliefs?
Give yourself time to explore these important questions and notice what touches and inspires you most deeply. Write down any answers or thoughts that come to you as you ponder these questions. Then use what you’ve written as a basis upon which to craft your life purpose and intentions. Consider also inviting divine guidance and your own inner wisdom to help you with this.
Below are some inspiring examples of life purpose, intentions, and mission statements. You can use one or more of these examples as a template or model for developing your own.
- My Reason for Being by Nancy Smeltzer
- My Life Purpose & Intentions by Toni
- My Mission Statement by Russell Cameron Thomas
- Arabella’s Life Intentions by Arabella Droullard
- My Life Intentions and Life Purpose by website founder Fred Burks
Though both can be valuable, there is a difference between life purpose and life intentions. Your life purpose is generally a single statement related to the overall reason that you feel you are here. What is the greater purpose behind your being alive? Why are you here in the world?
Life intentions are any number of profound statements about the way you want to live your life. How do you want to be and act in the world right now and in each moment? When you are confronted with major challenges, on what core principles do you want to base your decisions and actions?
Both life purpose and life intentions can be rich and valuable in helping to move through the challenges life brings us, though some will prefer focusing on one over the other. If you find this process somewhat challenging, you might do best to focus on one first. Choose whichever feels right and best to you. Later you can always come back and work on the other.
For two short, inspirational essays which give further ideas you might consider:
You may find yourself hitting a mental or emotional block in this process. Whether or not this is the case for you, by exploring the core beliefs and challenges in your life, you can find useful ideas on this. Once you’ve identified your own deepest challenges, you can develop meaningful life intentions or even a life purpose to deal with them. The link below will guide you.
Once you find and develop your life purpose and intentions, consider finding a good place to post them. Review them each day upon awakening in the morning to help you move more effectively and powerfully through the day. In difficult situations, check to see if your life purpose or one of your intentions can give you direction to navigate through the stormy waters. By frequently reminding yourself of your purpose and intentions, you become more focused and effective in building a brighter future for yourself and for all around you.
Remember that this key piece in your path to self-discovery is an evolving process. Nothing needs to be set in stone. One day while reviewing what you’ve written, you may find new wording that better expresses what it is you really want deep down. Or one of your intentions may no longer feel so important, while another surfaces to take its place. Unlike goals, which are future oriented, life intentions are for the present. They can change in accordance with changes and new realizations inside of you. When you live life to its fullest, you are a constantly developing work of art.
Many excellent books and guides on developing life purpose and intentions are available. Eckhart Tolle’s highly empowering masterpiece A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose is chock full of incisive insights into the human character and refreshing suggestions on how to find deeper joy and purpose in your life. Dr. Wayne Dyer’s The Power of Intention is another deeply inspiring book designed to awaken you to your full potential.
- A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose – Eckhart Tolle
- For other tools on developing life purpose by Eckhart Tolle, click here
- The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-Create Your World Your Way – Dr. Wayne Dyer
- For other tools on developing intentions by Dr. Dyer, click here
- For over a dozen other excellent books on finding life purpose and intentions, click here.
Opening to spiritual guidance is highly recommended as you explore this important topic. You might consider opening to divine guidance as one of your life intentions. We also highly recommend adopting some form of doing what’s best for all as one of your primary intentions. By aligning yourself with what’s best for all who share our world, you open to feeling more connected with everyone around you and may find your life becoming filled with ever more joy and meaning.
Thanks for taking the time to explore these important matters. As your life purpose and intentions become clearer, your life is bound to move more smoothly and powerfully in the direction you want it to go. May your life become ever richer and fuller as you move with greater purpose, focus, and intention through each day.
For a concise guide to exploring and transforming your core challenges in life, click here
For a short essay on how we can work together to build a brighter future, click here
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