Life Purpose

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For many people, this is an unanswered question. It’s all too familiar to meet people who feel like they’re not doing what they’re put here on earth to do.

‘What is my life purpose?’

There’s only one person who can answer that question.

You.

No matter what I tell you, or others tell you. When you’re living your life purpose, it will resonate with you and you’ll know it.

The reason why you’ll know it, and perhaps I won’t, is because of the way you feel.

When I’m living my life purpose, I feel balanced. There’s something deep inside me that is satisfied. That feeling of life purpose is linked to an emotional state.

That’s why the image above is very clever.

For example:

If you’re great at something and you love doing it, you’ve found one of your passions. But even though you might be passionate about something, it’s not necessarily your life purpose.

Take surfing as an example.

You might love the ocean, getting outdoors and surfing. You love it. You’re good at it. But that alone isn’t fulfilling you. You want to feel like you’ve made a difference. In that case, surfing alone isn’t going to get you there.

What if you thought of surfing differently?

What if instead of surfing, you became a surf life saver.

You’re in the ocean, you’re great at swimming and using a board (one of your passions) but you’re helping people and getting paid for it.

Now that could be your life purpose.

You’ll have a sense of making a difference. You’re helping others. You’re making money. You’ve begun to feel complete.

Life purpose is linked to the essence of who you really are. The core of your being. It’s what most spiritual people would refer to as your soul. You might also describe it as your heart.

Doing something that fills your soul is the only time you can feel like you’re living your life purpose.

This guide will help you block out some of the noise that stops us from getting in tune with our soul – and finding and living your life purpose.

STEP 1:

Ask other people what makes you ‘light up’ or ‘come alive’

We think we know ourselves well, but for most of our lives we see ourselves skin deep, as if in front of a mirror.

As we get older we may spend time meditating. This is where we can get in tune with our real selves.

We start to see what is on the inside.

What we’re like in our darkest moments. We know our thoughts. Our motivations. Our secret desires.

Reflection on our own actions will bring ourselves into the light, so we can begin to see ourselves more clearly.

THE JOHARI WINDOW

This will help explain this concept.

Johari Window

There are 4 quadrants;

  • Known to self
  • Not known to self
  • Known to others
  • Not known to others

The area we’re focusing on in this first step is what is referred to as the Blind Spot. It’s the part of ourselves that is Not known to self, but Known to others.

This is why there’s a faster way to identify your inner self than just meditation or self inspection.

People that know us well have already seen us and they know what our blind spot is. Unfortunately, in many cases they don’t know that we don’t know what our blind spot is.

Our close friends, family and work colleagues have seen us in action, at our best and worst. They’ve seen us put our foot in it. They’ve seen us excel and achieve success in various ways. They listen to us joke, laugh, cry, share stories and dreams.

They often know ourselves better than we do.

So here’s the first step I recommend you take.

Find a few people who know you well.

Not just friends or family either. Find work colleagues too. Find those you play sports with.

Then ask them “What do you think makes me light up?“ or “When do you see me at my best?”

I asked someone close to me, who knew me for years. Her answer surprised me.

“You come alive when you’re creatively solving other people’s problems.”

She has asked my advice countless times as I have also done with her. She reinforced what she said;

“Whenever I ask you about a problem I’m facing, you are at your best. You think of creative ways to solve my problems and give great advice.”

Up until that point, I had never worked formally in the capacity of a mentor or coach. But her comments indicated that is perhaps what I’m good at, but also that when I’m in that zone, it really energises me.

I’d never even considered that as a possible vocation before then or as my life purpose. But it does tick the boxes for me personally.

SO STEP 1:

Go out and ask for honest feedback. You’re really looking for your blind spot. You might be pleasantly surprised what you discover.

STEP 2:

Ask yourself what you really want, right now.

Let us imagine that you have no obstacles to have what you want, right this moment.

You can have whatever you want.

What would you list as your top 5?

A new car? A holiday? That dream home?

Stop.

Every single business coach I’ve ever met has told me to create a ‘dream board.’

You’ve probably heard of a dream board.

A dream board is where you stick images onto a large piece of cardboard to help you visualise what you want in your future, just like this one;

Life purpose dream board

Every dream board looks the same.

A house by the water, with an amazing swimming pool, perhaps a tennis court. A luxury boat that you can hop on any time you like and sail away. A few really fancy cars. A picture of a plane for that dream vacation.

What a load of rubbish.

You want to think BEYOND the things. Beyond possessions. If you’re going to find your life purpose then I’d suggest you ignore material wealth for now. I’m not suggesting that you choose poverty. I’m just saying that ‘things’ are not a result of living your life purpose. Things might be a goal you are aiming for, but don’t get them confused with your life purpose.

Think about what those possessions represent.

The bigger home. What does that represent to you as a person?

  • Perhaps that will lift your ego.
  • Perhaps it will give you a greater sense of security.

Those are two items that you may want to add to your dream board.

So instead of writing “I want a bigger home” you could instead write “I want to feel good about myself” or “I want to feel secure about my future.”

Possessions may help you feel better in the short term, but if you have low self-esteem you’ll still have low self-esteem even after you buy your mansion.

These boards have nothing at all to do with your life purpose. Instead, they are the noise that clouds our judgement of what is really important.

Now ask yourself again;

“If I could have anything I wanted right now, what would it be?”

Start working towards your answers and you’ll be on the path to becoming a more complete person as well as living your life purpose.

STEP 3:

Consider your life up to this point

At different stages of our lives we embark on new adventures. New jobs. New relationships. New sporting activities. New address.

Step 3 is about considering all of those different moments in your life and measuring them.

Having adventures in life is what reveals other parts of our character that we may not otherwise be aware of. So now I’d suggest you draw on those memories and experiences to help us get closer to identifying your life purpose.

Take a look at the image below.

Life Purpose Emotions

Each section has been given a feeling or emotional state of being.

As an example:

You Are Paid For It

Positive outcomes;

  • Lifestyle
  • Respect
  • Status
  • Things
  • Security
  • Achievement
  • Authority

Negative outcomes;

  • Lack of choice
  • Disdain
  • Lowliness
  • Lack
  • Insecurity
  • Failure
  • Inferiority

You Are Great At It

Positive outcomes;

  • Confidence
  • High self esteem
  • Ego
  • Feel valued
  • Recognition
  • Part of the Elite
  • Feel special

Negative outcomes;

  • Lack confidence
  • Low self esteem
  • Poor ego
  • Feeling small
  • No recognition
  • Common
  • Feeling pretty ordinary

You Love It

Positive outcomes;

  • Passion
  • Fulfilment
  • Excitement
  • Adventurous
  • Spontaneous
  • Happiness
  • Joy

Negative outcomes;

  • Apathy
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Depression
  • Cautious
  • Deliberate
  • Unhappiness
  • Melancholy

The World Needs It

Positive outcomes;

  • Sense of gratitude
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Feel good
  • Nobility

Negative outcomes;

  • A sense of thanklessness
  • Personal dissatisfaction
  • Neglect
  • Indifference
  • Feeling insignificant
  • Unimportance

THESE EMOTIONS PLAY A BIG PART IN WHAT WE DO AND WHY WE DO IT.

Living your life purpose, you’ll find yourself centred. Because you’ll be centred, you’ll have feelings of positivity about yourself and your place on this earth.

STEP 4:

Reverse engineer your past

CASE STUDY EXAMPLE

Lets split out these 4 circles and consider each one individually.

Life purpose circles
CHOOSE ONE OF YOUR JOBS THAT YOU HAVE DONE IN THE PAST.

I’m going to use my own example for you to see how this works.

Life purpose example 1

My first job

When I first got a job, I wasn’t well paid. I wasn’t very good at my job – heck I was a trainee. I loved it though because it was new. I was meeting new people and learning new skills. Unfortunately, the world didn’t really need it – or at least, there wasn’t much sense of doing something positive in the world.

If I were to look at my emotional state, it would be pretty accurate to say the following;

Paid for it; I had a sense of lowliness because of my earnings and being the junior made me feel inferior.

Great at it; I didn’t have much confidence doing what I was doing and would never get any kind of recognition for my work.

Love it; I was still pretty excited about my work and was passionate about learning whatever I could.

World needs it; I felt insignificant in the grand scheme of things where what I was doing wasn’t really important.

6 Months later, the graph changes;

Life purpose example 2

Progress?

I was getting better at what I was doing and my wage was slowly climbing. But, because things were now routine, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about what I was doing anymore. The World also still didn’t care about what I was doing.

When I had about 3 years experience;

Life purpose example 3

Starting to make more money

At this point, I was earning a decent salary. I was pretty good at my job and became the go-to person when things needed to be done. As you can see, the more I mastered my craft and the longer I did it, the less I enjoyed the position.

At the peak of my career in that industry;

Life purpose example 4

Now I’m stuck

Here’s the catch. I’m well paid. I’m very good at what I do. But I really dislike my job.

Lets take another look at how I feel about myself;

Paid for it; I had a good lifestyle. I had the earned the respect of my peers. I had the money to pay for all the things I wanted. My wife felt secure because we had money in the bank.

Great at it; I had high self esteem. I’m very confident in my role and would get recognition for my work.

Love it; I suffered depression. I couldn’t put my finger on it but this was real. I had a real dissatisfaction with where I was at. Ultimately resulting in feeling melancholy most of the time.

World needs it; I felt insignificant in the grand scheme of things where what I was doing wasn’t really important.

Now rinse and repeat this exercise.

I’ve had several positions. Each encompassed different skill sets and had different requirements.

When I managed a company, I loved mentoring others. That’s something the world needs. So although it was only a small part of what I did (about 2%) it was one specific area that I felt like I was making a difference.

STEP 5:

Design the perfect job description for you

As you explore your past, you’ll begin to isolate various parts of your role that you love, and parts that you don’t really enjoy.

This is a good way to consider your perfect job.

It’s important to recognise that some components of what you’re doing right now might be something you love, if you can just remove the components you dislike.

Using Step 4 above, will help you identify activities that fit with your life purpose and hopefully illuminate them so you can re-write your ideal daily activity – one that ticks all the boxes.

FINDING YOUR LIFE PURPOSE

Take these action steps:

Step 1:

Discover your blind spot.

Ask your friends, family and colleagues what makes you tick.

Step 2:

Ask yourself what you really want.

Knowing what is important to you will help you discover your life purpose.

Step 3:

Consider life up to this point.

Really think about how you felt doing what you have previously done.

Step 4:

Reverse engineer your past.

Break down each role you’ve ever had, to visually assist you.

Step 5:

Design your dream job.

Now you know what you want, describe it in words – then go for it!