Some How-To Steps for Finding Your Purpose in Life
Finding a Purpose in Life is a deeply personal thing. For it to have optimal impact, it must be something that resonates for you – something that reflects your beliefs, your interests, and your goals. The key is knowing how to unearth it under the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
1. Make a list and check it twice.
Actually, make several lists…
- What makes you happy?
- What are your talents?
- What can people learn from you?
- What calls you to action?
Spend time with your answers. Perhaps your purpose in life is on one – or more – of your lists.
2. Thank-you notes.
Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write thank-you notes to the people who have made a difference in your life. Sometimes, in acknowledging those people and the impact they had on our lives, we find a desire to do the same for others.
3. Look to those who know you best.
Taking time to see yourself through the eyes of loved ones can often reignite long dormant passions. Hearing how something you’ve done or said may have positively affected the life of another person is motivating. Feel that. Let it fuel you.
4. Become inspired by the stories of others.
Very often, when listening to another person’s trials (via a speech, or a book, or a podcast, or a television program), we find a commonality that speaks to us. We may not have experienced the exact same thing, but we may connect over a shared feeling. How did this other person handle their obstacle? What was their motivation to turn the corner, to keep going? Did something they say resonate with you? Did it spark a desire within you? Look at that.
5. Do for others.
In a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology in 2016, Daryl R. Van Tongeren and his team, said, “A central feature of meaning in life is a consideration of more than oneself. We extend this logic to suggest that altruistically motivated prosociality – acting in ways that benefit others – is a self-transcending action that may provide meaning in life.”
The ways in which you can make a difference in life are endless:
- Are you gifted in art? Is there someone who might benefit from your ability?
- Do you enjoy writing? Is there an organization that could benefit from your ability?
- Did you overcome a trial in life? Is there a group of people that might benefit from hearing of your experience?
- Is there an elderly person in your community who lives alone? A weekly call to say hello might be just the emotional boost they need.
- Are you good with animals? Perhaps you can volunteer at a shelter in some capacity.
- Can you stuff envelopes? Are you good with paperwork? Many organizations would value assistance in these areas.
6. Look back on your life.
Pull out the photo albums, read an old diary, write about the best and worst parts of your life. Sometimes, in looking back, our path forward can be found.
It’s no coincidence that professions routed in creativity place great importance on brainstorming. Very often, the best ideas are cobbled together from many people. So gather together those friends or family members you looked to for #3 (noted earlier), and start tossing out ideas of things you can do. Maybe, in the process of sharing and tweaking that comes from several minds churning a shared topic or goal, something will resonate. If it does, shift your brainstorming session to include ways in which you can set about pursuing that idea inside the parameters of your ability.
8. Reevaluate and tweak.
As life changes, so, too, can a person’s PIL. If you find yourself in this situation, step back, reevaluate, and tweak as necessary. If that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board in search of a brand new PIL – ones that’s a better fit for where you are in life at that time.