Do you find that you get a little bit lost, when you think about what your life purpose might be? Or have you always had that deep knowing that’s continued to guide you in that one direction?
If you fall into the latter grouping, trust me, you’re amongst the lucky ones. The vast majority of us, myself included, simply reached a point when we stop and ask “what’s the reason for me being here, what am I supposed to do that will just make me truly happy?”
When it comes to your career do you find yourself asking any of these questions?
Am I in the right job or profession?
Is this role fulfilling me or is the repetition and sameness of it grinding me down?
Am I hiding behind my need (albeit an important one) to pay my bills each month?
Am I terrified that I might in fact discover I’m not good enough to get better?
So, what exactly is the difference between reaching your goals and connecting with your purpose? Simply put, having goals, such as starting your own business, or owning your own home, bring with them a wonderful sense of achievement. You feel like you are making great strides in the right direction in life and that you’re adulting extremely well!
But knowing what your purpose is, takes you so much further. It takes you closer than ever to feeling fulfilled, knowing that you’re progressing in a way that feels most aligned and meaningful.
While a prisoner at Auschwitz, Viennese psychologist Viktor Frankl, author of the highly commended Mans Search for Meaning observed, that fellow prisoners who had a strong sense of purpose showed greater resilience to the torture to which they were subjected. Borrowing this quote from Nietzsche, Frankl said, “those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear almost any ‘how.”
The key to finding your purpose in life is to finding the balance that comes from having achieved what you want, with one of feeling fulfilled for who you are. If you can’t figure out your purpose straight away, don’t panic, just start by locating your passion and it will lead you there.
FIVE SIMPLE STEPS TO FINDING YOUR PURPOSE
When next you ask ‘what will make me happy and what is my purpose in life?’, consider that you are in fact asking the same question and so should expect the same answer. Remember though, that it can only be found inside you. You won’t ever find it in the opinions or judgements of others. Stop looking for others to tell you how to live your life. They won’t know, because they can’t.
WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOU?
When you think about where you are in your life, given your own set of circumstances and challenges, what do you honestly believe matters most to you? If you were free to live your life, exactly as you wanted to, what would that look like? If you weren’t influenced and didn’t care about the expectation of others, what is it you would do? How would you show up in the world? There’s a good chance then that your purpose is in there, in that answer.
LOOK AT WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU
You are conditioned to focus more on what you don’t have in your life, on what’s missing and on what has gone wrong up until now. It’s your natural default to do this. Developing an abundance mindset can however change just how you see and observe everything; as it fosters a deeper sense of gratitude inside you. It’s true that when you feel grateful, you are less likely to moan and groan about what you are missing out on. It’s actually impossible to do both. Your life, and especially your purpose in life, will inevitably become much clearer, as you shift your focus. Fear fades and in its place comes light, hope and greater abundance.
Learn how to detach from your drama, and instead of blaming others for what you don’t have, or falling down the rabbit hole of self-pity, why not start owning it by choosing to create the life you want. Get real clarity on just what that looks like, how you will feel when you have it, and then plan for it. Step by step, think about what are going to need to do to make it happen. Then just go and do it.
Accept that whatever situation or circumstance you find yourself in, is a result of your own decision, nobody else’s. Don’t play the victim. If you assume full responsibility for finding your own purpose, instead of blaming others, then fulfilment will follow.
WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP?
Please don’t gloss over this step. I invite you to reflect back on your life and aim to identify those times when you felt most lit up. If you can’t figure out your purpose straight away, then start by locating your passion and it will lead you there. What sparked that joy in you? I remember as a child, my favourite game was to ‘play librarian’. I’d gather up a stack of books and with my pretend official stamp (remember them?) I would open up each book and thump it. As I did this, I’d also play out the conversation with my pretend customer, that involved her sharing her problems with me, and me proceeding to help them solve them.
A bizarre little game, I know, but one that in actual fact flagged up early on, what my purpose might be. It was always inside of me. I wanted to serve and help others and words were going to play a significant part of that.
What is this for you? Is it baking, sewing, gardening, sport, politics, justice or animals? Or when you think of your spark do you think about your career, your family, friends or your partner? When you look closely at the activities or skills that come naturally to you and that also bring you much joy, you’ll most likely stumble upon those passions that ultimately become your purpose.
Sit with each of these five steps and record your thoughts into your journal. Don’t rush the answers but spend time thinking about them and see what memories they evoke for you. Make sure to schedule enough quiet time, and to reduce both the noise and the demands of the outer world, so you can focus on what it is you really want. The deeper you connect to that voice inside of you the more space you will create for your purpose to land.
Remember your life is not about finding what you are here to do, it’s actually about finding who you are here to be.
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Empowerment and Transformation Coach, Founder of The RESET for Change 3 Month 1:1 Private Coaching Programme and host of The TOUGH LOVE ENERGY™ Podcast. She’s known for her practical solutions to life’s challenges and her ability to tell you not what you want to hear but always what you need. For more at niamhennis.com or @1niamhennis.