It’s a matter of choosing what is most important to you and putting that first. Once you have recognized your true purpose in life, this becomes much easier.
– Clarence Clemons
What is a Life of Purpose – and Why Should I Care?
The answer is, it depends. If you have a job that provides meaning and a lifestyle that is important to you, then perhaps not.
However, most people are not satisfied with their work. According to the Gallup study, State of the American Workplace a full 70% of American’s are not engaged at work, meaning not working to their full potential.
According to Gallup:
A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that thrives and one that struggles. When employees are engaged, they are passionate, creative, and entrepreneurial, and their enthusiasm fuels growth. These employees are emotionally connected to the mission and purpose of their work. When employees are not engaged, they are indifferent toward their jobs — or worse, outright hate their work, supervisor, and organization — and they will destroy a work unit and a business.
This concept extends far beyond just the workplace.
I have lacked motivation, have had work failures, I have floundered, felt like there was something more, felt regret, felt like my time had passed etc. Often I didn’t know what was driving those feelings, like that was just the way I was. I was definitely one of the 70%.
What does this have to do with your Purpose in life? Everything. If you are living a life of Purpose, you will be much more engaged in what you do, and be more passionate.
If any of those descriptors are similar to your own experience, then you owe it to yourself to discover your Purpose.
A life of Purpose is a life where you are:
- living with more meaning
- making better decisions to accomplish something that is important to you
- more at peace because you are on Purpose
- less anxious and stressed because you have an outlet to express yourself
- in control of your life, rather than someone else
- more likely to experience Passion
This post will show you how to discover and live your Purpose.
What does a ‘Life of Purpose’ mean to me and why is it important?
Purpose and passion get tossed out a lot and both are loaded terms at this point, so I feel a definition is in order.
Purpose comes from your core values and beliefs. Passion is the energy that comes from following your Purpose. If your life and actions are resonant with your core values, you more likely will feel passionate about what you are doing.
I believe in defining your Purpose and then defining actions to carry it out. Passion will then fuel you along the way.
‘The purpose of life’, ‘the meaning of life’ and other terms may come across as ‘woo-woo’ or new-agey, but I believe if you don’t know what your Purpose is, you risk living a life without meaning and direction.
I would rather be deliberate about my life.
It’s possible what you do is aligned with your Purpose, but it may not. The last thing you want is to get to the end of your life and wish you had done something more meaningful!
It’s never too late. There are certainly a lot of reasons for not living a life of Purpose. None of them are valid.
So how do you find your Purpose in life?
It has to be M-I-N-E-D:
As I explain each of these, consider them in your context. Everyone will be different.
What has the most meaning to you? What values do you hold sacred? At your very core, what do you believe in?
Often we jump to taking action, largely as a tactic to combat fear or hesitation, but if you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you there. You need to have something that guides your decisions if you want to change your trajectory in life, and start living with more meaning.
What is important to you? This is also related to your values. You already think and even take action towards things that are important. For some it may be their faith. Others it may be a cause or a belief. Whatever it is, it is important to know what is important to you.
What is your unique nature? Who is the real you? Are you caring, funny, outgoing, introverted or generous? How would people, such as your family or co-workers, characterize you? Are you the shoulder to cry on, or are you the unflappable leader?
This will help guide you to make better decisions. For example, I can sit in front of a computer for hours, researching and writing. This would drive some others crazy. You don’t want to choose to go another direction if that direction would be uncharacteristic for you.
What life experiences do you have? This isn’t just vocationally, but looking back over your life, do you find patterns of behavior? For me, I have often struggled in jobs when my creativity couldn’t be expressed. Just cranking out widgets isn’t for me, and unfortunately I didn’t discover that it’s okay not to want to crank out widgets.
I had an identifiable pattern of certain behaviors that helped me identify my nature and what was important to me.
This is another new-agey type of term, but bear with me. Do you have a sense that you were cut out for something more? Do you have an inner fire that is not being fed? Is your Destiny to sit at a desk in a cubicle or do you have a deeply felt sense that there is something more out there for you?
Just being aware of that disharmony is valuable in shedding light that there is a problem. Perhaps you do know what you believe your Destiny to be.
A Life of Purpose
After spending time considering these topic areas, you should quickly get a sense of where you are (the regretful 70%, or the fortunate 30%). You should also have a good sense of what it is you should be doing, or something close to it.
What do you do with all this information? You begin to explore. Set a goal of one thing you can accomplish that is aligned with your Purpose. Take action towards that goal.
For me, I had a huge epiphany when I started to write. I admit I like to do so, so it wasn’t a burden, but just sitting down and writing on any given topic helped me to refine what was important to me and bring me closer to living in tune with my own Purpose.
Writing forces you to get all the easy stuff out of your head so that you can get down to the deeper topics and values you hold.
Bringing it Together
Too often we go through life just drifting with the tides. Our lives, including our choices and decisions are driven by something external, such as expectations, responsibilities, a boss or even a spouse. Life is hectic and busy and we fill our lives with activities that provide little value to us on a deep personal level.
We find ourselves stressed on Sunday evening and are looking forward to the weekend come Wednesday. That’s no way to live. This harms our health, it represses our passions and we cannot engage with either our jobs or the people we love.
By discovering your Purpose, you can take actions and engage fully in activities that are meaningful for you. Even if you don’t leave your job to become an entrepreneur, just having an outlet for your creativity to express your vision can give you balance that is so often sorely needed.
Passion follows Purpose. You are more likely to feel passionate about what you do, if you have Purpose. It is a great feeling to be willing to make sacrifices to follow your Purpose. I find it easier to go to bed earlier (I’m a hard-core night owl) and even get up early so I can write before the sun comes up. If you knew me, that is unheard of!
Don’t you want more Purpose in your life?
- Go back through the MINED process and really spend some time consider each of those areas and how they apply to you.
- Develop a personal Mission Statement. This doesn’t have to be complex or sophisticated. Write down 3-4 sentences as succinctly as you can stating what is the most important values to you and what you believe your Purpose in life to be.
Once you have done these exercises, review them occasionally. If you normally do annual planning or set New Year’s resolutions, take that moment to review your Purpose.
Remind yourself of your Purpose often. Post it in a place where you can see it. Make it a part of you, because it is a part of you.
Your Purpose will be refined and change over time. That’s okay.
Please leave comments and let me know what you have discovered by doing this exercise. Also, please feel free to pass this along to others who you feel may need it.
Last but not least, please share via Twitter or Facebook (or both)!