Everyone wants to have a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, many people miss a key ingredient to have it: finding their life purpose. They may spend years of their life only to find at the end that they have done the wrong things. Many others achieve fame and financial success but feel empty inside.
Don’t make the same mistake. Your time is too precious to waste.
Why You Should Find Your Life Purpose
Here are three reasons why you should find your life purpose:
1. It gives meaning to everything you do
Your life purpose makes everything you do meaningful. You could be successful outside, but if you don’t find meaning you will feel empty inside.
2. It directs and guides you
Not only can your life purpose give you meaning, but also it can give you clear direction of where to go in life. It helps you make big decisions in life. People who don’t find their life purpose don’t have a strong foundation upon which to make their decisions. They most likely will just follow popular opinions.
Besides helping you make big decisions, your life purpose can also guide you in making small decisions. When you have two options in front of you, it will be easier for you to decide if you know what your life purpose is.
3. It motivates you
In life there are always difficult times to go through. You may experience failures or rejections. In such situations, your life purpose can give you the motivation you need to keep going.
How can your life purpose do that? By helping you see beyond the horizon. What you face in front of you may seem difficult but your life purpose helps you see beyond it.
Finding Life Purpose Is Not Easy
It’s never easy to find life purpose. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult things to do. Here are two reasons why finding life purpose is difficult:
1. It doesn’t have a universal formula
Life purpose is a personal thing. Everyone has different purpose and different way to find it. What apply to me might not apply to you and vice versa.
2. It takes time
This is perhaps the main reason why many people never find their life purpose. They want results instantly. Unfortunately, finding life purpose doesn’t work that way. It’s more like a journey than a one-time stop.
Tips to Find Your Life Purpose
While finding life purpose is a personal experience, there are a few tips that can help you find it. Here they are:
1. Don’t expect instant result
I’ve written above that finding life purpose takes time so don’t expect to find it soon. It’s a journey and rather than complaining about your journey you’d better enjoy it.
2. Identify your strengths
Your life purpose is related to your personal strengths. If you are strong in learning, for instance, it’s likely that your life purpose is related to learning. One way to find personal strengths is through StrengthsFinder test which can be found in the book StrengthsFinder 2.0.
3. Identify your passions
I’ve written about passions multiple times here. Your passions are things you do because of love and not because of external reward such as money or recognition. Find and develop your multiple passions.
4. Identify your causes
Identify the causes that matter to you. Is there a condition in the world that makes you feel discontent? Is there a condition that makes you feel the urge to do something about it?
5. Find the intersection between your strengths, passions, and causes
Now that you have identified your strengths, passions, and causes, you can find the intersection between them:
- Pick a cause from your list of causes.
- From your list of strengths, pick those that can help you improve the situation in the cause.
- From the strengths you pick, find the ones you can work on with enthusiasm.
You can repeat this exercise until you find a cause which have strong intersection with your strengths and passions. At the end of the exercise, you will find a cause you deeply care about for which you can effectively do something with enthusiasm. This is a clear sign of your life purpose.
6. Write a personal mission statement
Based on what you find in the previous step, write a personal mission statement. It’s your one-liner that concisely communicate what your life purpose is. Don’t worry about getting it right on the first try. Just write down what you’ve got and build upon it.
7. Do something about the intersection
Your one-liner is your guide to finding your life purpose. It may still be broad, so you should keep refining it. The way to refine it is by working on it. Make serious effort to act upon what you’ve found. Increase your competence and find ways to contribute to the cause you choose. Your effort will give you feedback that will either reinforce or diminish your interest on the subject.
8. Act based on the feedback to refine your personal mission statement
If the feedback from the previous step reinforces the purpose you’ve found, over time you will get better understanding of what exactly your life purpose is and how you should fulfill it. You may create new one-liners as you find new clues. This process of refining may take years but you are going in the right direction. You just need to keep your eyes and mind open to recognize every new clue regarding your strengths, passions and causes.
I wrote my first personal mission statement in 2004 and it stayed for three years until I wrote my second (and current) one in 2007. I walk with it and I’m getting better and better idea about the precise nature of my life purpose.
I enjoy my journey. I hope you do too.
This article is part of September 2008 theme: Fulfilling Career