At times, we all feel lost. It can feel like being stuck in the wilderness where everything looks the same, your map is just a confusing jumble of symbols, and your compass is just spinning in circles. It is times like this you want to throw our hands in the air and scream to the heavens that you give up. This is the time where you stop and take a deep breath and simply ask what is it the universe is trying to tell you.
In week three we start to take a look at exercises that can help you find and start to put into use, your life’s purpose. This isn’t a shortcut or a quick fix, it will take time and a lot of reflection. You have made it this far, get ready to dive into how you can start to take action.
Do you ever feel stuck? Perhaps you don’t have the job you want, or the relationship, or the financial situation. You probably know what it is that you don’t want, but have you ever taken the time to figure out what it is that you do want?
Rather than answer with generalities like a job that “pays more” or “is closer to home” or “to find your soulmate” or “to be rich”, think about being as specific as possible. What does your ideal life look like? What would you need in your life for it to be more fulfilling and meaningful?
To put it in a slightly different light, if you win the lottery tomorrow and suddenly, you’re a multimillionaire, what will you do with the rest of your life? Will you continue working at your job? Will you spend more time with your family or travel the world? Will you start your own business or spend more time with your hobbies?
Sometimes, the best advice is often the simplest you are given. These exercises are no different. They are designed for you to take a few moments and reflect on the most important parts of your life. To look at them and weigh their importance with the intention of allowing you to see where your purpose may fall.
Taking stock of your life allows you to think carefully about the things in your life so that you can decide what to do next. It allows you to make considered and deliberate decisions, instead of just reacting to a situation. We often need to take a mental audit of all the things that have some kind of effect on our life so that we can see where our mental energy is being spent and if it is worth it.
Take some time to dream about the possibilities. Then, take out a piece of paper and write down your dream in vivid detail.
Now, take a few moments to write down a list of the things that are most important to you in your life. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What things are most important in your life? These are the things you are willing to devote time and energy to each day. They can be things like:
- Faith/ Spirituality
- Personal growth
- Having a Healthy Lifestyle
- Having your finances in order
- Work/life balance
- Maintaining a loving relationship with your significant other
- Being happy at work
- Being organized and using time wisely
- Participating in the hobbies you enjoy
- Making a difference in the world
This list can be broken down into five categories and labeled as Work, Family, Friends, Home and Leisure (Special Causes). Divide those above or any of the list you had into those categories. Now take some time to write down your current focus for each of those areas. Be honest with your assessment, don’t think about the aspirations or what you would like to invest, just what you actually invest in them. Take as much time as you need. The longer you take, the more likely there is a lack of clarity in your mind. Now, be aspirational. Think deeply on what you want the focus of your life to be. Break this up into two columns. The first column is for short term focuses (3-6 months) and the second is your long term focus or life changing focus. This process will allow you to start making considered, deliberate, and more aware decisions about your life.
Setting priorities is important because we often have so much going on in our lives at once that we lose track of who we are and what we want out of life. We end up putting out one fire only to be confronted with yet another that takes its place. With so many things on our plate at once, it’s easy to neglect ourselves, friends and family.
When you are finished writing your list, take a few moments to prioritize them on a scale starting with “1” as the most important. Finally, take a few moments to think about these questions:
- What am I most passionate about?
- What would inspire me to get out of bed at 5AM on a Saturday morning?
- What haven’t I experienced yet that I’ve always wanted to?
- What haven’t I given yet that I’ve always wanted to?
- What haven’t I learned yet that I’ve always wanted to?
- What part of me haven’t I healed yet that I still need to?
- Am I doing now what I really want to do?
- If not, do I even know what I’d really like to do?
- What can I do to serve others?
Write down the answers in your paper. These should be your honest answers – not what you should do or that others expect you to do. Once you’ve done this exercise, combine all your answers into a life’s purpose statement. Your purpose statement will answer the question “Why am I here? What is my true calling in life?” You get to define yours, so what do you want to do with your life?
Go back to your piece of paper and write “My purpose in life is…” Then, just write. Spend some time reflecting on your dreams, priorities, and the questions listed above.
Next, think of the ways you can use your passions and dreams to serve the world. Write down the following statement, “I will make the world a better place by…” and your answers.
Get all of your ideas down on paper. This will probably take you at least 10 minutes, though it could take hours. Write until you feel you have some clarity about your life. Then, go back and read the content. Is it powerful for you? Is it a wake up call? If not, keep writing until you find something that’s profound for you.
The Ties That Bind
When you do define your life’s purpose, it will be an emotional experience. You will look at what you wrote and have one of those mind blowing “why didn’t I think of that before?” revelations. Even if your statements aren’t very impressive to others, what matters is that you find them 100% accurate and relevant, and they have emotional significance to you.