Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life? What will give me the most joy and fulfillment?
Many of us ask questions similar to these at some point in our life, and coming up with an answer can be challenging. It is easy to get so bogged down with day-to-day living that we lose sight of the bigger purpose of our being. But when you take the time to step back, you can identify your individual gift and then share it with the world.
Here are a number of ways you can begin to identify your life purpose.
- Figure out what you love doing. Make a list of the things that you do that bring you joy or invigorate you. What activities cause you to lose track of time or forget to eat? What did you love to do when you were a kid?
- Ask others what they think. Reach out to 5-7 people that know you in different contexts (e.g., friend, family member, co-worker, volunteer, etc.). Ask them to share with you, in writing, what they think your gift and life purpose is. Challenge them to think of specific examples when they saw you living your gift.1
- Think about what you would want for the world. If you could give one thing (either tangible or intangible) to every person in the world, what would that be? Why is that one thing important to you? How does it help others?
- Identify your best moments. Looking back over your life, what are the moments where you felt the best or were the most proud? What were you doing? How did it make you feel?
- Ask for insights from a higher power. Our guides want to help us, but they wait for us to ask. There are a couple ways that you can get help from your guides.
- Channel their messages through free-form writing. Sit down with a pen and paper or in front of your computer. Write the question you would like answered, and then pause. Clear your mind, and ask your guides for help answering the question. And then, without thinking, begin writing. Don’t stop to analyze what is being written; instead, let the words flow out and through you. When you are done writing, you can go back and read what was written.
- Ask for signs. In the morning, ask your guides to show you signs or examples of what your life purpose is. As you go about your day, pay attention to anything that pops out at you – it could be an ad on the side of a bus, or a word that comes up in multiple conversations with co-workers, a specific animal, or a song that you hear – and make a note of it.
- Let your dreams show you. As you are going to sleep, ask your guides to give you insights about your life purpose through your dreams as you sleep. Keep a pen and paper by the bed, and write down your dreams immediately upon waking up. If you don’t typically remember your dreams, ask your guides to help you remember them!
I’d recommend that you do as many of these activities as possible. Each will give you different perspectives and answers, but as you begin to look at them all, you will begin to notice common themes and deeper insights about yourself. These form the foundation of your life purpose.
How does this look in practice?
Recently, one of my clients wanted to change careers and was struggling to find her life purpose. I asked her to do some of the exercises listed above, and then we talked about the answers. The same words came up over and over: empathy, mentoring and women. As we talked about what these words meant to her and how she lived them today and in the past, her life purpose became clear: to help other women come into their own. As soon as we spoke the words, my client knew in her heart that this was her life purpose. Armed with this self-insight, my client is now exploring how to live this purpose in a way that will be meaningful to her.
1Adapted from Unique Ability: Creating The Life You Want by Catherine Nomura and Julia Waller