If you want to be fulfilled, happy, content, and experience inner peace and ultimate fulfillment, it’s critical that you learn how to find your passion and life purpose. Without a life purpose as the compass to guide you, your goals and action plans may not ultimately fulfill you.
Each and every one of us has a purpose. That purpose could be a lot of things.
Here are a few examples:
- To make the lives of people better through coaching, writing, podcasting
- To serve an audience, a small team, a group of people in your community
- To help others feel empowered to speak out, pursue their dreams, and be heard
- To help those suffering or in need
- To be a good person to everyone you meet, so that they can feel the magic of kindness
You don’t have to be making a living off of your passion in order to feel fulfilled in life (although wouldn’t that be nice) — as long as you feel you are doing something meaningful, and you care deeply about those who you’re serving.
Having a bigger purpose focused on helping others broadens our world. It expands our view so that we’re thinking of others and ourselves, and how we are all interconnected.
It’s a much more fulfilling way to live.
So, how do you find your purpose if you don’t have a clue where to start looking?
How To Find Your Purpose
There are two guiding principles:
- Clear all distractions
- Listen deeply
If you don’t have a clear purpose yet or if you haven’t found work that gives you fulfillment and meaning, then looking for that your main purpose.
Your entire focus should be on seeking a purpose.
Start today. Clear everything out, and have no distractions. Simplify things so that you can start looking. Clear your schedule as much as you can, drop your commitments to the extent that you can, and think about what makes you happy.
After you’ve carved out time and space, I recommend that you try making a few lists.
- Make a list of everything you do right now. What activities give you meaning and fulfillment? Which don’t?
- Make a list of things you’ve done in the past that have given you meaning. Are there any connections between them? Any connections to the ones on your current list?
- Become aware of pain you’ve experienced in your life. Things become more meaningful when you’ve been through suffering — it’s not something to be avoided, but something to work with, something to grow with, a path to deeper meaning. Think about the most meaningful experiences in your life — they probably involved other people, and they probably involved some kind of suffering.
- Take time in silence. Out in nature, on a couch meditating. Use the silence to listen — to your heart, to the infinite, to your deeper consciousness. Really listen.
- Remain in this state even as you interact with others. What are people saying that feels meaningful? What inspiration can you find?
- Open yourself to others: their challenges, their feedback.
- Listen, deeply with intent … then pick something and take action. You won’t really know until you get started, so pick anything that feels remotely right: volunteer, work at a non-profit, write a blog, write a book, write a poem, start recording yourself and find someone to help as best you can.
- Get started! Take action and see what happens.
You don’t have to have the perfect answer to get started. Instead, embrace not-knowing, and just start!
Living a Life of Purpose
Once you’ve landed on some kind of meaningful activity … now it’s time to live a life of deeper purpose.
There’s no one way to do that … but here are some ideas:
- Start to cultivate a list of guiding principles. Gather them from books, from things that speak to you, from things you’ve learned over the years. These are not things you need live by too rigidly, but values and ideas that seem to guide you well. Keep the list somewhere visible. Live by these principles as much as you can, adjusting your behavior regularly if needed, tossing out or revising principles as you learn, not holding to them too tightly.
- Keep your purpose at the front of your mind. Every day, reflect on your purpose. How are you living it? How can you go deeper or expand with it? What one or two things can you do today to serve that purpose?
- Set an intention with each task. If you’re going to write an article, record a video, clean a church floor, see a patient … start that activity by setting an intention to serve the people you care deeply about with love, mindfulness, devotion, or whatever you want to bring to that activity. It helps to set the intention, because the activity becomes filled with purpose, instead of something not very meaningful.
- Have regular reviews. I’ve found that it’s one thing to have an intention, but it’s another to actually live it. We forget, we get distracted, we fall into habitual patterns. To get us back on track, it really helps to have regular reviews. For example: have a 5-minute review in your journal at the end of the day — how did you do today? How can you get better? Maybe write 1-2 sentences in a journal. Or just reflect on it. Do the same each week: plan out your week on Sundays (for example), but also review your past week. How can you adjust for the upcoming week?
- Have people hold your purpose in their hearts. Find at least 1-2 other people (and ideally more) to hold your purpose. That means: you tell them about it, they care about you and what you’re doing, and they’ll ask you about it, maybe support your mission in some way. They’ll challenge you if they feel you’re not doing everything you can or living your best life. They’ll share their mission with you. They’ll be on the journey with you, because no one fulfills their deepest purpose alone, the best is to have others on the same path as you are.
- Connect to your fulfillment. Reflect on the meaning you get from fulfilling your purpose. Don’t just go through the motions — feel it, deeply. Feel the love you’re offering (and receiving) as you push into this purpose. See the good you’re doing for others. Live your life as9 love.
It’s not something that happens overnight, and it’s not always simple to live a life of purpose. But putting these ideas into practice, you’ll feel a greater sense of meaning in your life.
“If we don’t change we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. Growth demands temporary surrender of security.” Gail Sheehy
The Traveling Yogi