Understanding and Finding Your Purpose in Life
If we take a minute to think about all the times in our lives that we are said to be seeking who we are or our purpose in life, we might realize that it takes up a good portion of our lifetime. During adolescence, we’re said to be discovering who we are as individuals and what we want, outside of the desires of our family. In our 20s, we are exploring the world on our own terms and figuring out how and where we fit. In our 30s, we are often welcoming in new roles and learning how those roles contribute to who we are and our purpose. In our 40s and 50s, those roles often change again, forcing us to examine who we are in a new landscape and how that changes what our purpose in life was and will be. Beyond that, we are, again and again, in a stage of rediscovery and seeking.
Despite spending most of our lives seeking our purpose, or perhaps because of it, we may wonder what steps we should be taking to help us identify that purpose. It is, of course, important to first understand what purpose means, in general and specifically to us, and then explore the steps we can take to help us define and know it.
- What is the Purpose of Life?
- What is My Purpose in Life?
- Challenges to Finding Our Purpose
- Steps to Help You Find Your Purpose in Life
What is the Purpose of Life?
As with most lessons in life, the real answer is not an answer but, instead, the next question. In other words, the more we learn and the more we grow the more we realize how much more is out there for us to learn, experience, and embody.
You didn’t think it would be that simple, did you? That we’d have a nice and tidy answer for you here in our blog? Perhaps, even if we did, the value would be lost. What if it’s not about the answer, but the journey to finding your own answer?
What is My Purpose in Life?
Even The Bible states that your life’s purpose is designed just for you. While there is an overall purpose, for all humans, to know and have a relationship with God, there is also the individual purpose which you, through your relationship with the world and God, can discover.
On a more general level, your purpose in life is what drives you and makes you feel fulfilled. For some, this is the work they pursue day to day, for others it exists outside of their traditional work. However, for both, it is what gets them excited to start the day and lights them up. It is what adds fuel to their fire. It may influence behavior, choices, actions, as well as your short and long term goals.
More concretely, one’s life purpose may be to work towards a larger goal for the world, something that challenges all of us as a global community like hunger or climate change. Some might find their purpose more locally and work towards assisting the unhoused to find shelter. Others may find their life’s purpose in:
- Building a legacy in business, education, or social justice
- Supporting individuals facing a specific challenge important to them
- Raising a family
- Teaching others a skill that enriches their life or makes it easier
- Providing a voice, as an advocate, for those who have none
- Travel, education, exploration…purpose doesn’t always have to serve others though for many, even those pursuits are in effort to better understand others
What you’re searching for is something that energizes you and fills you with gratitude.
Challenges to Finding Our Purpose
Imagine a life of leisure that allows you to pursue all of the things that strike your fancy until you find your true passion. It’s hard to imagine, no?
That is, for many, the biggest challenge to finding one’s purpose. How do you carve out time from your responsibilities to pursue the things that move you? Responsibilities, even pleasant ones, like family, work, pets, chores, friends, fitness, and other commitments, require time, attention, and energy.
Similarly, many of us can get off track when we invest our time in helping others pursue their passions or solve their problems. Unfortunately, some of us do so at our own expense.
For many of us, this leaves little time in our day to pursue purpose, or even being the process of searching within ourselves to find what our purpose is. So how does one create a purpose-filled life while still attending to responsibilities and the needs of the others around us?
Five Steps to Help You Find Your Purpose in LifeWe can all likely agree that our life’s purpose is something bigger than ourselves. For many people, that can be overwhelming, but in his book Soul of a Citizen, Paul Loeb introduces the reader to ordinary people who found their purpose and, through small changes, impacted not just the world around them, but the world in general.
When you find your purpose in life, you are fully engaged in an energetic circle that symbiotically feeds you and allows you to feed the purpose.But how do you do that? How do you find the purpose that drives you to wake up energized and ready to bring on the day? To see each new day as an opportunity to live that purpose?
1. Find your passions
What are you passionate about? Some of us can answer that easily. For others, we’re so entrenched in our roles as they relate to others that we’ve lost the things we love to do. And yet, others have not found what excites them. That means it’s time to explore. Get involved. It doesn’t have to be a massive commitment. In fact, some organizations need digital warriors and others seek ways to facilitate involvement for those with complex schedules.
2. Dig into self
The first step is asking yourself what you feel passionately about. What moves you? It may be an experience, a belief or value, a person, or something you’re passionate about. That, for many, is easier than the next part which asks you to examine limiting thoughts. What stops you from engaging in the activities or experiences that give you purpose?
3. Create a vision
Whether you make a vision board, make a list, engage in creative visualizations through meditation, or write a vision statement, this can help you solidify your values, which is often a key to finding your purpose. They also allow you to focus on the world and life you want to create, one that makes you feel energized, alive, and engaged.
4. Find your community
Few things help you stay on track like having friends by your side in a mission or goal. Not only are these people who share your passions, values, and goals, but they can keep you going and focused when you encounter obstacles. Similarly, much like a gym buddy, they can keep you accountable to showing up…for yourself.
5. Find inspirations
Often, we think we have to find our inspiration in individuals who are making big splashes, are famous, or who have access to resources unavailable to us. Those people are amazing and certainly inspirational, but inspiration can often be found much closer to home. Consider, again, that community you’re tapping into. Who do you admire? Who is actively living with purpose? Not only are these individuals relatable, but they’re also accessible. That means you may share not only the same values but also some of the same challenges.6. Consider a spiritual practice
While a good part of finding your purpose is connecting to yourself, one of the ways we do that is by connecting to the world around us. It helps us consider our place in it, the impact we’d like to have, and how we move through space, how our energy can impact them. For many people, spiritual practice is a way to both focus inward and outward at the same time.
Don’t just take our word for it. Research suggests that individuals who have a spiritual practice feel more connected and a better understanding of their purpose in life.
Our church community prioritizes meeting you where you are and helping you find your purpose through both reflection and engagement. If you’re looking for a community of like minded people, who value purpose and action, but still understand that life is hectic, consider reaching out to the folks at NewChurch Live.