Without doubt one of the major steps anyone can take towards living a happier more productive life versus one of quiet mediocrity and desperation is the moment you gain clarity in what is your life’s purpose.
I know, I know…
The words ‘Life Purpose’ can seem impossibly grandiose, they lend themselves to personal development ridicule and general motivational B.S like:
Live Your Passion!
Pursue Your Dreams! Like a Shining Star!
(Because that is what you are…)
The problem with finding your Life Purpose,is that it can be hard to define as a single element because modern life can be made up of so many different areas: work, family, health, and so on. And its easy to confuse what we do with what our life’s purpose is, because sometimes they are one and the same and sometimes they’re not. However most people would understand the term to mean the one thing that they are on this planet for.
And here lies the problem.
Finding your Life’s purpose is as different and as individual as all of us. There is no cookie cutter approach we can take, there is no book which will give you the answers and no personal development ‘guru’ can proclaim it for you.
You must find you.
And to find you, you must be willing to be a seeker, you must be willing to get lost, and to fail, perhaps multiple times. You also need to develop enough self confidence to believe in yourself to value yourself and say that you DO have a purpose and it does matter that you find it and live it.
It’s not about being the best! It’s about being your best.
Some of us are lucky enough to kinda fall into our life purpose, often it starts with some natural ability or an admiration of various traits or a simple curiosity. Sometimes it falls onto us, literally, like the moment a mother sees her child for the first time, something clicks inside and you become clear on your life purpose: To protect, nurture and grow this little person with all your love.
You might see your purpose in life as being the best father or mother you can be, perhaps your purpose is to advance in the field of Science, Art, or Fitness. Similarly your purpose could be to spread wisdom, healthy habits or simply happiness to the world.
And if you know your purpose today – Awesome.
1. When I found my true purpose in life
Believe it or not I didn’t find my purpose until I turned 34. It wasn’t a climactic event, the skies didn’t open and a thousand angels didn’t proclaim my greatness. It came after a concerted time of quietness and reflection. It was in a silent mundane moment of driving my car to work one morning. I felt the wind on my fingertips, the warm morning sun on my face and I squinted through the dirty windscreen (that I hardly cleaned) onto the road
I remember asking, over a period of days, to the universe ‘What is my Life Purpose’ over and over again. Almost like a mantra. And then I felt it. It felt like the tiniest turning of a key into a keyhole *click* and I knew. I knew what my life purpose was. Something inside just gave a silent nod and affirmed it back to me.
My life’s purpose was to be a public speaker inspiring, educating and empowering young hearted people like me.
And as that tiny key moved a lever which moved a dial which sparked a revolution in me I sat inside my car and cried. Because I knew I had found my purpose.
Looking back onto my life so far, my life’s purpose has been weaved throughout my life.
I remember my proudest moment, when I was 12, coming third place in a district speaking competition as I took the audience on a journey through ancient Angkor Wat. (I didn’t do any public speaking again until I was 33) It didn’t matter that I came third. In my heart I was first.
Later I would dream of becoming an actor or a famous singer entertaining the crowd. But that all stopped when my voice broke, literally.
I remember all the times I had to speak in front of an audience and how I would suffer panic attacks in the moments before but when I was standing in front of the crowd it seemed the most natural place on earth to be. I remember all the times I had to stand up and read out one of my poems, how I wanted to run, but also yearned to be up there.
Some of you might know me from my days as a young artist. And its true that painting and art were a huge part of my life, a part of my identity and they gave me purpose. But to be totally honest, I never felt like it was my life’s purpose. I never could picture myself really impacting the world through my art, I never saw what I did as a mission. I saw it as a lovely skill, I enjoyed making people happy, I enjoyed the process and the outcomes but I never wore it with pride, and that pride never burst into flames.
And you’re life’s purpose MUST be a mission. The orders must come from somewhere inside of you, somewhere sacred, somewhere etched into the walls of the fabric of your DNA. Because without it, it will be too easy to become complacent, to just be ‘good enough’ to be lulled into the traps of fame, money, lifestyle.
When you live your life’s purpose you get the greatest reward known on earth – you get to be YOU. The best version, the highest version.
2. How to Connect With Your True Purpose
In a world full of affirmations, self development gurus, self help books, homestudies and videos you would think it would be easy to find your Life Purpose. Just plug into a best selling book on Amazon and ‘Hey presto! Life Purpose on a plate!
Who can really say which book, which tape, which audio truely changes someone’s life? Is it the first? The last? The fifteenth one with the heavy dog eared pages? Self development is so very incremental, its very much a compound effect.
However, you’d be surprised to learn that the practical process of ‘Finding Your Life Purpose’ is actually quite counter-intuitive.
To find your purpose in life, as a golden rule, it requires you to shut up.
It requires you to ask others to shut up too.
And ideally it requires you to ask the world to quietly shut the **** up as well.
Can you remember the last time you spent some quiet time with yourself? And listening to music or zoning out in front of the couch doesn’t count either. No I mean some real quiet time. Turns out that the more time you spend with yourself, the more clarity you will achieve, and the more focussed you can become towards finding your life’s purpose.
3. How NOT to find your life’s purpose
I spent many many years listen to every self development audio or book I could find, after being scarred at hitting rock bottom. I read and learnt like it was going out of fashion. But it took my wife, Iris, to snap me out of my ‘busy’ work to get me to raise my head long enough to see the fruits of my labours.
I knew inside I had changed immensely, but on the outside, to the world, my life and my bank account had not improved. If anything they had gone backwards.
So I decided to do something radical.
I decided to shut out the personal development world, I shut out the usual stuff, news and TV. But I also shut out helpful facebook groups, reading any books, listening to any motivational cds. I shut out music.
Whenever and wherever I could, I would steal myself away from the crowd and sit in silence. I did this for three weeks. No music, no books, no TV.
I still did my duties, my job, I still ran errands and cleaned the gunk from the dishwater. I still caught up with friends. But when ever possible, I sat alone, in silence, with nothing but my thoughts and a question:
What is my life’s purpose? How can I live a life of purpose?
I guess as a long time learner and follower, I never realised that one of the biggest hurdles to gaining more clarity in life was just becoming too busy to even think about it! And the second biggest problem is having the self-confidence to start believing in yourself.
Perhaps you’ve had the same problem.
4. Having the courage to break away
How many people do you know who’ve put years of study into chasing a goal, but sadly that goal wasn’t theirs. How many people have become doctors or teachers only to realise at middle age that they never really wanted that for themselves. It was their family’s idea to follow in their dads building footsteps or the good intentions of loved ones to get into the a particular line of work. In todays world it can be very difficult for young people (and older ones) to make up their mind about their life’s purpose because they have so many people on their back as to what that should be.
Coming from an Asian background, the pressure was intense to make the sacrifices of previous generations worthwhile. My battle scarred parents didn’t want me or my siblings to suffer like they did and so the pressure to excel overwhelmed everything, including love. Sometimes parents, in an effort to try to help their kids, narrow the field of expertise for their kids thinking it would help them make an easier decision.
Doctor or Lawyer?
This type of thinking, while done with the best intentions, only delays a child from realising their purpose in life.
Because, here’s a really important point I want to make.
It takes real courage and strength of character to chase your own goals.
It’s bloody hard to listen to yourself and only you. And if you’ve been following the advice of others for a decade or so it makes the job of following your inner guidance, your intuition, much harder.
But it’s something you MUST do.
6. The Questions You Can Ask to Find your Life’s Purpose
What makes you happy? Conversely what makes you angry or fired up about?
What could fill your days and nights with calm determination?
What brings you to tears if you admitted it to yourself…
What is your purpose in life?
The answers to these and many more questions on life purpose can be found when you find some quite time to reflect on what has made you really happy in the years leading up to now. You may have to find the courage to leave behind some outdated thinking that were right for you when you were younger, but which don’t reflect the amazing person you are today.
In closing it’s the quality of questions that will ultimately drive your life. Great questions will lead to great answers. Crappy questions will lead to crapville.
It’s like asking ‘What is the meaning of life?’. Perhaps a better question would be ‘How can I live a life of meaning?’
And go from there…
Hey did you like this post? Please like it and share it and please comment down below what your life’s purpose is. It would be grand to share!