WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUN. 29, 2014
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How to Discover Your Purpose in Life

Asking “what’s my purpose in life?” is an age-old question and one that only you can answer for yourself. There are three reasons that you should ascertain your purpose in life:

  • You’ll find meaning in what you do in life.
  • Your purpose will direct and lead you where to go.
  • Knowing your purpose will motivate you to succeed in life.

So how do you discover your purpose in life? Motivational speaker T.D. Jakes said, “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” The journey to finding your purpose is not necessarily easy, for two reasons. There is no universal formula and it can take a long time. This article will first look at an example of some “life entrepreneurs” finding their life purpose and then discuss several steps to discover your purpose.

Example of “Life Entrepreneurs” Finding Their Life Purpose

Chris Gergen and Gregg Vanourek are co-authors of the book, Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives. The authors coined the term, “Life Entrepreneurs”, which describes someone who has developed into a creator of the fate of their business as well as their life in general. In the book, the authors share the experiences of 55 Life Entrepreneurs who they interviewed in regarding to finding their purpose in life. The entrepreneurs interviewed range from high powered attorneys to someone like Cliff Bar who started a business to help underprivileged people in Africa.

Gergen and Vanourek shared inspiring stories of Life Entrepreneurs finding their purpose in life. Some of the key take-away points discussed in the book are:

  1. You should live life according to your foundational principles no matter what the costs and always remain true to your convictions.
  2. There will be times that you need to leave the direction the “crowd” is traveling, and when you do, expect opposition.
  3. You have a unique purpose that is specifically made for you. Seeking out that purpose will be a life changing experience.
  4. Acknowledge that “success” and “entrepreneurship” are terms that pertain not only to your professional life, but also to your personal life.
  5. During your journey, you will need to find a genuine support system of people who believe in your dreams and want to encourage you.

Steps Toward Discovering Your Purpose in Life

Step 1: Be Realistic and Prepare for Your Journey

Discovering your purpose in life is an individual journey and will not be the same for anyone else. There are general steps that everyone can follow. However, be realistic and understand that you can’t expect instant results. Don’t focus on the end result, but try to enjoy the ride.

Step 2: Take the Time to Sit Down and Make Your Lists

This second step involves making three lists. The first one is to identify your strengths. Everyone’s life purpose is significantly linked to their strengths not their weaknesses. A useful resource toward ascertaining your strengths can be found in Tom Rath’s book, Strengths Finder 2.0.

The second list is to identify your passions. These are things you do because you enjoy doing them not because you have to. In my personal experience, I love to write. I became a professional writer and published author. It was a passion and it’s one of my life purposes.

The third list is to identify your causes. What matters to you in life? Do you want to help those in need? What conditions in this world cause you to want to make a difference?

Step 3: Take Your Lists and Make an Action Plan

Review your three lists and ascertain the point of intersection between your strengths, passions and causes. For example, in my personal experience, one of my strengths is attention to detail. A passion is writing and one of my causes is to encourage people with the written word. My intersection point—was to become a writer and an author— where I can utilize my skills, while doing my passion and in turn encouraging others as I write. There can be several different intersection points you find as you seek out your life purpose. Repeat the review of your lists to ascertain further intersection points. Based upon your intersection points, you can create a personal mission statement. Summarize your top three intersection points and create your statement.

Step 4: Get Feedback and Review Your Mission Statement

Once you have your mission statement and action plan in place, get some feedback from a trusted friend or mentor. Your mission statement may change over time. As you begin to act upon your intersection points, learn to set aside time to review the process and your results. Take your action plan seriously and pay attention to the constructive criticism you may receive from your mentor. We all grow over time in our physical, mental and emotional selves. Be open to continual self-evaluation and learn to see clues on new intersection points you may find.

Discovering your life purpose can and should be an enjoyable experience. Trust the advice of others, like Chris Gergen and Gregg Vanourek, who have gone ahead and discovered their purposes in life. Be realistic in planning your journey. Write out your lists of strengths, passions and causes. Find your intersection points and create your action plan. Don’t forget to review your progress and mission statement and continually seek out new intersection points.

 

Photo Credit: http://robertjrgraham.com

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