“Finding yourself” isn’t just for a post-adolescent idealistic phase. Now, business professionals are focusing on their ever-elusive Why? If you are asking yourself these questions, you need to find your “why.”
Why am I putting effort into this job/project/activity/relationship?
What is motivating my choices and actions?
What is the more significant meaning of my life’s work?
Going through the motions of life without a purpose is utterly unfulfilling. You want to spend your time pursuing goals aligned with your passions and contribute to the greater good. So, what does it mean to have a purpose?
There are many interpretations of what ‘purpose’ means in the Bible, from writings about the Buddha’s teachings, doctors, and psychologists. Purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created; or for which something exists.” In India, the concept of purpose is dharma, a Sanskrit word with multiple definitions. A common interpretation of dharma translates to “right direction,” “rightful duty,” or “righteous living.” The concept of dharma helps people to discover and navigate their purpose or their true calling in life. This is similar to the western idea of purpose, as we too believe it is a gift to find your purpose and guide you as you flourish. Other interpretations of dharma suggest it translates to “any existing thing,” which invites us to think about how purpose, or dharma, can be put into everything.
Following your purpose or dharma involves dedication to a cause outside of yourself for an extended time. Purpose fuels the motivation in life, providing meaning and direction. This inspiration allows you to contribute to the world. When you spend your time doing what you love, aligned with your strengths, while giving back to society, that added purpose enriches your life.
How to discover your purpose
Discovering your purpose could be a lifelong endeavor and could feel overwhelming. It requires asking yourself more meaningful and specific questions. Arriving at your purpose requires curiosity and focused attention on the things that inspire you, motivate you, and bring a sense of aliveness into your life. In a similar vein, Stephen Cope, the author of The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling, ignites a sense of urgency to uncover your true calling; he states, “If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not, it will destroy you.”
Here are three considerations to defining your purpose:
- Take care of yourself
Get quality sleep, eat nutritious foods, exercise, and stay active. Clean your room or your home. Once you settle your basic needs, you can begin the journey of self-discovery. This helps you clear out clutter from your mind, paving a clear road to walk on. Spend time in solitude to achieve self-reflection. It helps to meditate, take long walks, visit museums, create art, solve problems, or read a wide variety of books. Enrich your mind with elective classes. You might surprise yourself by taking a class that you wouldn’t expect to like! Take online courses in a wide variety of subjects. Notice the moments that excite you or bring you a feeling of joy. You’ll discover activities that you love, and these areas are most likely the roads in the right direction. Navigate further down these paths to explore what about these things lights you up!
- Take care of something outside yourself
Learn to take care of someone or something other than yourself. Once you have adequately learned to take care of yourself, express that same genuine care and consideration externally. Start by asking yourself what or who else you genuinely care about. This question invites you to think about people and things with which you feel a connection. Take care of another being, such as a pet, or start small with a house plant. Care for someone else like a parent, sibling, friend, or volunteer at an organization. Ask them about their struggles and lend a helping hand. Look for signs in the people and things around you to uncover what needs your expertise and energy. The law of supply and demand will take effect. You will supply a wide range of skills to others, and eventually, you will discover the need from the activities where you have marketable skills. You will know what you are good at doing based on what is creating value for others.
- Take care of the world you live in
Now that you have lent a helping hand outside of your immediate circle, see where else you can be helpful in society. Identify the challenges in the world that you wish to solve. What do you love talking about? See what your role models are doing and remember why they inspire you. Try volunteering and get involved in social change to discover more about yourself. Naturally, you will reveal your values, interests, and unique gifts to contribute to the greater community.
How to integrate your purpose in everything you do
Discovering your purpose is more than finding meaning in the world. It is also about discovering your values, potential, gifts, and passions. Your values are the guiding force behind everything you do. Once you become aware of your skills and desires, you can integrate them into everything you do and share them with the world.
Here are a few ways to integrate your purpose in your day:
- Create morning and nighttime routines – Setting up a pattern will allow you to form habits around these tasks and generate space in your mind to think more deeply around implementing purpose. Cleaning the dishes can shift from a routine chore to the pleasure of creating a beautiful and clean space for loved ones to connect and enjoy the tastes of life.
- Set goals connected to your purpose – To give your purpose meaning, you must continue to fuel with sustainable effort. If you want your drive to stay alive, you must feed it.
- Be intentional – Do your values align with your purpose? Being deliberate means that it is done purposely or deliberately, such as intentionally picking up trash on the street because you remember that your goal is to create beautiful and clean environments.
The bottom line
When you spend time doing what you love, aligned with your strengths, while adding value and kindness to society, life enriches. It is up to you to find your unique purpose and take action. Once you have found your purpose, the next step is to keep practicing it and giving it life. Nobody can tell you what your purpose is but you. Remember, the meaning of your life is as individual as you are.