Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness.
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ~
One of the most frequent questions I get asked concerns how to go about finding your purpose in life. That question drives people so crazy that they give up on finding it pretty quickly.
Your life purpose is a path of discovery. You follow it – you don’t “find” it.
The path to finding your purpose in life is to discover as much as you can about who you are and what you want. Not in terms of material things, but in terms of what you want to experience.
It starts with learning as much as you can about who you are. When you know that, you are capable of making the best choices in every area of your life, including your relationships, career, health, and finances.
- Knowing you hate detail can prompt you to create systems to compensate, or hire for that attribute.
- Knowing you are in introvert can inspire you to create alone time for reflection and recharging your batteries.
- If you know you love people and variety, you won’t waste time trying to be successful and happy working alone in a back office doing the same thing every day.
- Understanding your values and opinions can help you find the best friends and co-workers to collaborate with.
- Knowing the kind of environment and culture you enjoy associating with will help you seek opportunities that are in alignment.
Self-awareness is a key component to finding your purpose in life. The more self-aware you are, the happier and more supported you will feel professionally and personally.
Below are some exercise “Power Tools” to get you started down the path of finding your purpose in life. These are valuable to do whether you are young and starting out or whether you are older and you want to design your Sexy Second Act career.
In fact, it might be more valuable if you are an older worker. As you go through life, you sometimes form opinions about who you are and what life is. These exercises can help open your eyes to facets of yourself you’ve lost sight of or are unaware of.
Exercise #1 – SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s a personal assessment you can create yourself. Create four quadrants on a piece of paper. In each quadrant, list what you see as your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
- A Strength might be compassion
- A Weakness might be procrastination
- An Opportunity might be a new technology that you’re interested in
- A Threat might be your finances or a health challenge
Be honest with yourself. This is for your eyes only. If you want to be extra courageous, solicit feedback from trusted associates and friends. Ask them to give you honest and objective feedback. Sometimes others see us more clearly than we see ourselves.
Don’t take feedback personally. See it as information. You can keep it or set it aside. But do at least consider it before throwing it away.
Doing a SWOT analysis can help you clarify your present situation so you can make thoughtful plans for your future. It can help you begin to focus on a direction, even if you can’t yet see the final outcome.
Exercise #2 – Who Do You Admire?
Write down or journal about people you admire in three categories:
- Whose personality do you admire?
- Whose physicality do you admire?
- Whose intelligence do you admire?
What do you admire about them? What attributes do you find appealing? As an example, here are three women who I admire:
- Personality – Mae West
- Physicality – Ginger Rogers
- Intelligence – Maya Angelou
The attributes I admire are Mae West’s sassiness and sensuality, Ginger Rogers’s toughness, grace and elegance, and Maya Angelou’s insight and intelligence. I aspire to grow those qualities in my own life.
Who represents the attributes you want to develop? Once you identify them, you can ask yourself, “What would _____ do in this situation?” to help you get clarity about finding your purpose in life.
Exercise #3 – What Do You Believe?
Write down what you believe about everything from God to money. Where did each belief come from? Did you come to it on your own or did you inherit it from your culture or family?
Give yourself permission to question every single belief. You don’t have to give any of them up. Thinking about them, however, will help you sort out those that are no longer true for you from those that truly matter and resonate with you.
Doing these exercises may help you identify themes and common threads for how you want to design and live your life. As you reflect on what you’ve identified, you may discover that there is no need for finding your purpose in life. You may have been living it all along!
Have you discovered your life purpose? Share in the comments. How did you discover it?
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