How to find your purpose in life
I wandered quite a bit doing things, some of which I was uncomfortable doing until I stumbled on writing. Since then it has become part of my blood cells. If I stop writing, my blood will freeze!
Did I say stumble? Yes, the students I was teaching felt my style, which made them enjoy the student, should be used in writing a book on the subject. I wasn’t sure about what they were saying, but I wrote the book all the same. And it became popular. Years later, I tried my hands on novels.
Some people discover their purpose early in life or have their educated or experienced parents discover it for them. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is reported to have said, “I didn’t ever consciously decide to pursue writing. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to spell, and just sitting down and writing made me feel incredibly fulfilled.”
Yet some others don’t discover their purpose until late in adulthood, but when they do, it is joy all the way. They call such people ‘Late Bloomers.’
It doesn’t matter whether we believe it or not, we are all born with specific purposes and gifted by the Creature with special skills to achieve such purposes. There are special reasons we are here on earth, and we must discover it.
When you would have found your purpose a feeling of contentment and joy overwhelms you as you work in the gift zone. The joy is irrespective of immediate financial rewards. Energy level is at the brim, and you don’t seem to run tired. Most workaholics have found their purpose and work in their gift zones. Unfortunately, while others think they are killing themselves, workaholics don’t feel so.
This piece is specifically for people to who purpose has become elusive. I must confess that I am not an expert in this field. So to write this, I relied heavily on experts such as Robert Taibbi and Dr. Susan Biali, a medical doctor, health and happiness expert, life and health coach, professional speaker.
Many people think that purpose should be obvious and easy to identify, an idea that leads to much frustration and disappointment. However, as you go through this journey, gaining wisdom about yourself and receiving delicious, surprising clues from life, your sense of purpose will evolve and change.
For the search, Susan suggests the following thoughts:
What do you love to do, that you would do even if you don’t get paid for it? What is so you that you would just have to do it, no matter what?
What do other people say you’re really good at? Be careful of going in a direction just because others think you should. That said, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the way others compliment you. Is there anything that you’re particular good at that people tell you that you should do professionally, or do more of?
What is the one thing you want to experience, or do, or accomplish, before you die, so that on your last day on earth you feel satisfied and have no regrets in that area? What is that thing, for you? Don’t worry if you don’t have an answer yet. Keep asking the question, and keep your eyes open for clues that will come your way. Because the answer will show up, in perfect time. I promise you that.
Hammer it out
Rather than wait for your elusive purpose to evolve, Robert suggests these “wait-and-get” exercises
Write it out
First write in long hand on a piece of paper, “What is my life purpose?” And then free associate and write whatever comes to mind – I have no idea, I want to be an astronaut… — it doesn’t matter just write. Whenever you write something that has an emotional punch – where you go “Yeah” – circle it. Keep going.
After about 20-30 minutes you will hit the wall – This is stupid, I have no good ideas – write those down and keep going. After about 40 minutes you will find yourself circling around a theme (this is like cluster writing) – I want to teach others, I want to help my children to be independent and compassionate. You may get a clear purpose statement, or something more loose like a mission statement, but definitely more solid. The next step is to dwell on it, see how it fits, see how you can integrate it into your life.
Think back to what you wanted to be when you grew up. The fireman, the doctor, the writer, whatever. Have any of these dreams persisted? If the dreams have changed over time is there some unifying quality that runs through – helping others, being creative or adventurous, bringing joy or challenge …what? Again, don’t think outcome – be a doctor and make a million dollars – but look for the larger impact on your life, your loved ones, the world. Write it out if that helps.
The idea here is that childhood fantasies about our adult selves are elemental dreams that tap into our core selves before life lays on its heavy hand of right and wrong, should and want, they want we want and scrambles us. The next step is to translate this one thing, this quality into your everyday goals and life.