Finding your life’s purpose is such a popular topic with much debate around it. There are many lectures and books written around this because humans deeply desire to feel important and have a reason for living.
I went through this process of searching in my mid-twenties and my life had so much more fulfillment when I realized my reason for being. While I don’t believe there is a cookie cutter way to discover your purpose I can certainly share what has worked for me and the clients I coach.
Searching is the First Step
For starters I want to commend you. You are on the right track for reading this article not just because I wrote it, but because it shows you’re in the process of searching for more and discovering your purpose. If you believe there is more to your existence than going to work every day especially if you are stuck in a job you don’t love, you are definitely right. Yes, you can find career fulfillment but the first step is simply starting that search.
Know What Purpose “Is” and “Is Not”
Before we get into how to find your life’s purpose let me clarify what purpose is not. Your purpose is not your work. Let me say this loud and clear (and yes this comes from a career coach): Your purpose is not your work because your purpose is something so much greater. If you equate your job to your purpose, you will find yourself in an identity crisis if you ever lose your job. We don’t want this! Remember: YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY YOUR JOB.
Think of your purpose as something in you that follows you through your entire life, while some people do work one job their entire life, most people don’t, especially millennials. Your purpose is the essence of you – divine and a part of something larger than you. It does not change. Do you see how this is different from your work? Your purpose allows you to do your work. Let me illustrate this for you.
Part of my purpose in life is empowerment. No matter how many jobs I have worked I always found myself being the person who gives others tools to help them reach their goals, therefore empowering them. I did this as a recruiter, trainer and still do it now as a career coach. I empower women by showing them, not just telling them how they can achieve their ideal job and reach their full potential. While this is helpful in my work as a career coach, empowerment is the only thing that is guaranteed to follow me all the days of my life and is my purpose. I can go on and on with several other examples of my purpose, but I want you to find your own. Here are 3 powerful tips that can guide you in the process.
1. Listen to That Still, Small Voice
It’s vital to find a quiet place within yourself so you can hear yourself. We make so many important decisions in life based on the advice of family and friends however, we know best what we really need. The way to find your still, small voice will only come through practice. You can make time every morning to just sit in stillness, eventually you will recognize your voice, what you want, and what you are here for. The first time I experienced hearing my still voice was when I made the decision to leave law school. I was on a scholarship and had no backup plans but one day I heard clear as day that law was not the path for me. I’m so happy I listened because eventually I discovered my purpose and the right career path. I truly believe I am a more fulfilled person because of this.
Not hearing any voices? Try speaking with an expert
Yes, it is possible you are not able to hear that still, small voice with all the noise around us. That’s okay. There are other ways to determine how to make a big decision. Career coaches are great for this. Find someone you trust – either family, friend, or coach – and talk with that person. Seek guidance from a variety of sources if you must. But find someone to help you sort things out. This alone will be invaluable for helping to find fulfillment.
2. Map Out Your Life
Mapping out your life is an exercise I have often encouraged my clients to do and has brought about great results. To begin this process, you should think back to your first job or elementary school friends all the way up until the life you live today. What has stayed the same about you? What did people say was most helpful about you? More importantly, what do you remember that has always stood out about you? If you pay close enough attention you will begin to find a pattern. For me, empowering others, was my pattern and also my purpose. On a micro level, sometimes it can help to start by mapping out your career path. You may find it beneficial to read this blog post I wrote on how to create a detailed career plan.
3. Study Yourself Now
Studying yourself is one of the greatest tools to discovering your purpose. We read so many books on purpose but when do we decide to become the students of our own lives? As you begin to study yourself you should every day at the end of the day think back on what you did. Think of everyone you spoke to and every interaction you had. Ask yourself questions like why did I respond that way? Did it feel authentic when I was doing this activity or speaking to this person? Studying yourself can help you realize who you are at your core and the difference between who you have been conditioned to be. The more I studied myself the clearer my authentic self, emerged. As a result, I consciously made a choice to show up everyday living happy and in my purpose.
If you want to know what your dream job is my greatest recommendation would be to begin discovering your purpose. You will save yourself so much time, money and energy, not to mention, be a lot happier in the end.