How to Find Your Purpose in Life
I believe that everybody has a purpose. Everybody exists for a reason, and we’re all meant to to contribute to the world in our unique way. Each person is blessed with a unique set of talents, skills, life experience, etc. that enable him or her to do something in the world. That “something” is his or her purpose.
Your purpose is essentially your life’s mission. Finding your life’s purpose is not about finding your career, although that can be a big part of it. One purpose can spawn multiple career paths, meaning there isn't ONE thing that you’re supposed to do. Instead, there are various avenues to fulfill your purpose (ie: through hobbies or your relationships). Your purpose is bigger than your career—it is the backbone of your entire life and everything that you live and stand for. Your purpose is WHY you exist on this world. Once you discover your own personal WHY, your life will become more meaningful and fulfilling because you understand your REASON for being.
Now, finding your life’s purpose is a personal journey. You may not discover it immediately; it can take time. It’s been about three years since I’ve started thinking about my purpose. Over the years, I’ve tried various exercises that have helped me clarify my purpose. Here, I've compiled a set of questions that will help get you started on discovering your life’s purpose. It’s a slow and personal process, so be patient and open minded through it all. The first step is to believe that you have a purpose in life and that you are capable of discovering and fulfilling it.
Questions to Help Find Your Purpose
I suggest copying the following questions into a word doc and taking the time to answer them at your own pace. The sub-questions are similar but written to get slightly different responses. Feel free to answer just the ones that speak to you.
1. What brings you joy?
- What activities make you happy?
- What do you love to do?
- What can you find yourself doing for hours on end and not be tired?
- What were your favorite things to do or play as a child?
- What makes you come alive?
- What things have made you feel excited to get out of bed?
These are your passions. They are your COMPASS. Your passions are driven by an innate love and joy. You’re drawn to them for a reason: they lead you to where you are meant to go.
2. What makes you unique?
- What are you naturally good at? What comes easy to you?
- What do your close family and friends tell you that you are good at?
- What is the thing that people admire most about you?
- What problems in others are you good at solving? (What do people come to you for counsel about?)
- What do you do so well that people cannot determine whether you are working or playing?
- What were you doing when you were 100 percent at the top of your game?
Realizing your natural talents and strengths is essential to finding your purpose. These are your TOOLS. You are given this set of talents and strengths for a reason: to use them to help others or to contribute to the world in your own unique way.
3. What does your perfect life look like?
- What is your dream story?
- What would you do with your life if you knew that you could not fail?
- What would you do if money didn’t matter?
- If every job/career/calling in the world paid $15/hour, what would you choose to do as a profession?
- What does your ideal life look like in 10 years? Who is in your life? Where are you living?
- How do you spend your time? What does your ideal day/week/year look like?
Don't limit yourself here. Dare to write your biggest, boldest, and truest answers because your perfect life is attainable—the first step is to acknowledge what you truly want. This is your VISION. Your vision shows you who you want to be.
4. How can you give back to the world?
- Who do you want to help?
- How do you want to help them? (Teaching, volunteering, charity, etc)
- How can your unique strengths benefit others?
- What were you doing when you made an impact on someone else's life? How did it make you feel?
- What causes do you care about? What grieves or frustrates you the most about this life and society?
- If you had ten minutes to address the world, what would you talk about and why?
True happiness and fulfillment comes from giving back and helping others. By definition, your purpose includes how you will make a meaningful contribution to the world and those around you. This is your IMPACT.
5. Look for patterns
Now it's time to go over your answers and look for patterns. What is the common thread amongst all your gifts, talents, and abilities? Think about what connects each aspect of you between your passions, your talents, your dreams, and your impact.
6. Write your purpose statement
Finally, sit in quiet self reflection. Write “What is my true purpose in life?” on top of a page, and let the answer come to you. Keep writing versions of your purpose statement until it feels right to you. The words don’t need to be poetic or pretty, what is important is how inspired they make you feel. You should feel an emotional tug when you come up with your purpose statement, as if you care about each word deeply. Later, feel free to revisit and redefine your purpose from time to time as needed.
Tying this exercise together, I like to believe that in general: your purpose is to follow your compass and utilize your tools to realize your vision and make your impact. Of course, it's nicer to come up with a concise and unique purpose statement that embodies all of these things, so keep writing until you've found it!
To create and communicate beauty and meaning, to promote love and goodness, to share my light and empower others to create the lives of their dreams.
To break it down:
To create and communicate beauty and meaning: through music, writing, speaking, video, design, or any other media. Also, to live a beautiful and meaningful life.
To promote love and goodness: Love = Love yourself, love those around you, love humankind, love the earth, love the universe. Goodness = Do good – for yourself, for others, for the world. Good intentions. Good morals. Social good.
To share my light: To share my values, knowledge, and wisdom with the world. To lead by example.
And empower others to create the lives of their dreams: Show others that they can create a life that is meaningful, fulfilling, and beautiful to them.
In the end, only you can be you. Find the path the allows you to reach your fullest potential and be the greatest version of yourself. When you live aligned with your life’s purpose, it’s naturally inspiring to others. People can sense when you are doing what you’re meant to be doing, and that inspires and encourages others to do the same. Also, when you live out your purpose, you are automatically making the world a better place because you’re contributing your best self to the world.
Imagine if everybody lived their lives aligned with their purpose: Everyone would be happy and fulfilled doing what they do best and lifting each other up. The world would be a beautiful place.
Steve Pavlina: How to Discover Your Life Purpose in 20 Min
Think Simple Now: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission
WikiHow: How to Find Your Life's Purpose
How much do you really know about yourself?
Discover more about yourself and what you want out of life with this free downloadable list of 30 self reflection journaling prompts.