Creating your life purpose is more than a cliché or a dream that will never come true. Actually, it is a tool for a better, happier, and healthier life, but one that very few people try to discover.
Purpose and meaning are not something that can be quickly determined. The process requires a lot of self-reflection, listening to others, and discovering where your passions lie. Identifying, acknowledging, and honoring this purpose is perhaps one of the most important actions successful people take. Why? Well, because they take the time to understand what it means to be here, and then they pursue it with passion and enthusiasm.
For some, the purpose and passion in life are obvious and clear. They are born with a set of talents, and through practice, they develop those talents into skills. But for other people, it is not so easy to identify a passion. They may even have wondered at one point or another thing like:
• What should I do with my life?
• What is my passion?
• What is the purpose of my life?
If you have ever considered this, or are considering it right now, I suggest you read this article where you can discover how to create your own life purpose.
Why Do You Need a Sense Of Purpose In Your Life?
Mainly for your health. Yes, you read it right. The need for meaning and purpose is the deepest driver of well-being there is. Having a purpose not only benefits our mental health but also, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak, our physical health.
Several studies conducted at the University of California have concluded that adults who have a stronger sense of purpose have greater longevity than people with a weaker sense of purpose. This study found that the risk of dying was twice as high among people who lacked a purpose compared to those who had a purpose.
Scientists do not yet fully understand the mechanisms that drive the connection between purpose and well-being. It could be that having more meaning in your life involves less release of stress hormones, better immune function, and/or less cardiovascular strain. It is also very likely that having a purpose will lead us to make better decisions regarding our lifestyle.
Whether that sense of purpose stems from our work, family relationships, hobbies or interests, or – better yet – a combination of all of these, our health depends on feeling engaged in life.
Is a Purposeful Life The Same as a Productive Life?
The belief that purpose and productivity are somehow synonymous is somewhat misleading. Especially at a time like the one we are experiencing, a global crisis due to Covid-19, it is very easy to feel that we have spent a whole day, a week, or a month! without having made progress in our goals.
Then you get here, and you read in this article that having direction and purpose is absolutely vital, now more than ever, because our mental and physical health depends on it. Damn, that's sure to increase the pressure on you. So, you try to create a "purpose" by doing and doing and doing.
But where is the middle ground?
In its most basic definition, productivity is the amount of value produced divided by the amount of cost (or time) required to do so. And the purpose is what allows us to have a sense of direction, that involves us in activities that we consider valuable and that impact other people, more than ourselves.
Productivity is result-oriented while purpose is process-oriented.
Productivity focuses on the tangible tasks we perform and what we can show for the use of our time and effort. Purpose, on the other hand, asks us to feel committed to what we are doing, regardless of the tangible result, or lack thereof, it may generate.
Work and Live With a Purpose
Of course, you can be productive and purposeful at the same time, and you'll probably feel better when that's the case. What happens, however, is that our purposeful activities are less visible, making them difficult to assess.
This is the case while living through a pandemic. We may know precisely why we wake up in the morning, i.e. we have a purpose, but we can't see what we are doing with our days, i.e. we lack productivity.
For example, being present and accompanying family, friends, and others who trust us has a purpose, but it is not usually something that can be “shown”. However, the impacts that this has on the people we help are likely to be far-reaching and long-lasting.
Similarly, caring for our own well-being so that we can be fully present – emotionally and physically – to others is fundamental and therefore also serves a purpose.
Now, embracing purpose over productivity might sound great, but what if we have to produce something?
For most of us, income doesn't flow without tangible output of some sort. When we feel the pressure to produce during difficult times, keeping direction at the center of what we are creating will keep us healthy and balanced.
Steps to Create Your Life Purpose and Achieve The Goals You Set For Yourself
We tend to speak of "purpose" in a solemn tone as if each person has a mystical reason for being here.
I propose a completely different approach, one where you don't have to chase after a mysterious relic. Instead, think of finding purpose like an archaeological dig, to uncover parts of yourself that have been buried.
Personally, I believe that the best way to define a purpose aligned with you and your values is to ask yourself many questions that will allow you to get to know yourself better.
What is the greatest added value that you can create in the face of this situation right now? What do you have to offer that few others do?
There's never been a better time to ask yourself these questions, especially since what was "important" in the past may not feel as important now. Focusing on the reasons why your work matters and how you can positively impact other people will help you transcend the daily grind and find meaning in what you're doing.
1. Explore Your Thoughts and Feelings
Many people are lost in the daily routine or in the expectations of those around them. They may not even feel drawn to a specific purpose, but they have a deep sense that there is more to life.
As I told you, a good way to start is to ask yourself questions about your purpose. Take time to write down your answers. Write freely, wherever your mind takes you, and explore your thoughts. It's okay if your answers are short and it's okay if you end up writing long sheets.
If you need help with the questions, here are some you can ask yourself to improve your focus:
1. What would you do if you never had to work to earn a euro again? If you didn't have a day job, but still had the income, what would you do with all that time? What would you learn, what would you create, and where would you go?
2. What would you choose to do, even when you had troubled days? Ask yourself what you would willingly continue to do, even if you knew you would have rough days sometimes. Because seriously, creating a life of purpose and meaning can have many challenges. At the end of the day, what would make the challenges worth it?
3. What did you love to do when you were little? Our inner child knows our vocation much better than we do. If it fills you with the joy you had as a child, do more of it.
2. Visualize Your Purpose
Visualizing is a bit like meditation. Instead of emptying your mind, fill it with the experience of how you want your life to be. How does that version of you feel, that version of your life? This vision will change as you get closer and closer to your ideal. It might even change completely if your purpose changes course.
It is important to do this exercise for at least two minutes each day to cement the vision in your mind. Visualization changes your neural connections over time. You will notice that you feel more and more like the person in that vision.
3. Be Clear About Your Intentions and Trust Your Intuition
Once you are clear about what you want and keep your mind and energy constantly focused on it, then the how will appear. Don't let your motivation fail you and maintain your willpower.
You were born with an internal compass that tells you when you are on or off course, mostly by the amount of joy you are experiencing. The things that bring you the most joy are aligned with your purpose and will take you where you want to go.
Take some time to think honestly and openly about where you currently are in your life and what you want to do with it:
• What is your financial situation?
• How are your relationships?
• How is your Health?
And then think about where you would like to be. If your life were as you imagine it right now:
• How would it be?
• What kind of job would you have?
• Where would you live?
4. Start Slowly
You may have a big vision, but it's all achieved by taking small consistent steps every day. Living your purpose can be overwhelming, so it's best to take small actions. How small? Do an internet search on the topic of your purpose; write an email; learn a new skill.
You can think of these actions as experiments. After all, life is a learning process, so try small steps and see how you feel. Of course, take some small risks.
5. Take Action
Act according to your purpose in life. When you act, act INSPIRED. Talk about your plans, share your enthusiasm, and be honest about what you're doing. This is what will make the difference and create real momentum.
If you feel a little strange at first, it's completely normal. You are breaking old patterns and building something new. Stick to it and take those little steps every day.
6. Get Ready to Take a Big Leap
Don't be afraid to take increasingly significant risks. You will have already gone through some mindset changes to get to this point, but at some point, you will have to take a big leap.
You will not feel "ready" to give it, but I assure you that there is no such thing. Just do it. You'll know when it's time to make big moves.
7. Align Your Goals With Your Life Purpose and Passions
Once you know what your life purpose is, organize all your activities around it. Everything you do should be an expression of your purpose. If an activity or goal doesn't fit that formula, don't work on it.
Aligning with your purpose is more complicated when setting career goals. When it comes to personal goals, there is a perception of greater flexibility.
For example, if you want to learn to paint or play the piano like our dear @Madeleine, you just do it. If your goal is to get fit and lose weight, you start training. However, the signs that your job or career is not right for you are often ignored.
We have many areas of our lives, but we generally associate who we are as “productive beings” with how we get paid. But if Monday mornings terrify you, and you feel like you only live when the weekend rolls around, it may be a sign that it's time to follow your intuition and get on with the work you really want to do.
The question is where and how can we find direction when everything around us is changing. It cannot be denied that we are facing a situation of uncertainty – which is our new normal – and it is affecting us all, in one way or another.
A natural reaction to such an uncertain future is to freeze. If we don't know what's to come, how can we think about moving forward?
However, without a sense of direction and purpose, our physical and mental health, effectiveness in the workplace, and relationships can take a toll. We need to find a way to create our own direction, even when we don't know what's to come, especially since it looks like we're going to be in this state for quite some time.
The question that arises is how we can move forward when so much is unknown. Well, we can focus on our actions having an impact beyond ourselves. That is, in essence, the very definition of having a purpose. We can focus on what we DO know we want to create through our work.
Tell me, are you clear about your purpose in life or are you still to discover it? I read you in the comments 😉
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