Some people seem to discover their life purpose while they are still children or teens. Most of us, however, are not child prodigies. Perhaps you don’t really identify with people like Bill Gates or Jackie Evancho or Simone Biles. Maybe the search for your life purpose has resulted in what seems like one dead end after another. Now that you are way past 21 (or 41 or 61), are you feeling as if your life has no purpose? Well, I aim to nip that negative thinking in the bud!
I believe every person has value and purpose. Your life purpose may not be a flashy, paparazzi attracting purpose, but you can find deep meaning in living a life that is true to your unique values.
Although you will need to spend some time thinking deeply about what really matters to you, discovering your life purpose is worth the time spent. Research reviewed by experts at the University of Minnesota, shows that having purpose in your life has important physical and mental benefits:
Promotes a longer, healthier life by preventing heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Allows you to handle pain better.
Improves your relationships with others.
Increases resilience in dealing with life’s ups and downs.
If you are still searching for your purpose, it is time to discover your mission! Use this checklist to help you identify your purpose.
Exercises for Finding Your Life Purpose:
Grab a pen and paper and find a quiet spot. Take some deep breaths, say a prayer, or meditate. You want to clear your mind of everyday concerns.
Start by listing activities you enjoy. What do you look forward to? What activities get you excited to get out of bed? What do you make time for?
Next, write down the things you are good at doing. What do people compliment you on? What makes you feel good about yourself? What responsibilities come easily to you?
Think about the last time you lost track of time while engaged in an activity. This flow state occurs when we are at our most creative and productive. Write down what you were doing while “in the flow.”
Consider the times you have done something for others. Often, serving others brings us great joy. If you have had that experience, write down when it happened and what you were doing.
Finally, make a list of 5 to 10 words that represent your personal values. You can use words such as loyalty, strength, happiness, compassion, independence, or freedom. Pick words that have deep meaning for you.
Once you have gone through these steps, look over all the things you have written down. Do you see any patterns? Do certain activities stand out? Your purpose can be found in the things that make you feel good about yourself and make others feel good when they are around you. That is important: your purpose brings joy not only to you but also to those around you. Your purpose allows you to put your values in action.
If you feel comfortable doing so, ask other people what qualities they appreciate in you. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and don’t see our own best qualities. You may discover that your friends think you are a great listener or that you are a calming force in their lives. Your positive contributions to other people’s lives are part of your purpose in life.
You may want to keep a journal dedicated to discovering and living out your purpose. Writing down your ideas can help you gain clarity about what you want to do with your life. As you fine-tune your values and purpose, you can write a personal mission statement to guide your life.
What’s your purpose?
Your purpose is unique to you. It grows out of all the things you thought about in the exercise above. It is the central motivating factor in your life. It is what drives you to get out of bed, but, more importantly, your purpose drives you to share your passion with others.
Stay tuned for more information on values, purpose, and mission statements throughout the month of October!