Plenty of people go through life without a clear purpose or something that makes them truly happy – but you don’t have to be one of them. Finding what that purpose is might surprise you, and it could challenge your notions of what it means to be "successful". If you’re struggling to find your life’s purpose, it’s time to take stock. In an effort to find what you’re seeking, give yourself some time to sit down in a quiet place and reflect on questions like these.
See also: 10 Ways to Identify Your Mission in Life
1. What's the first thing I think of when I wake up?
Besides your morning coffee, where does your mind go as soon as you’re fully awake? If it’s a feeling of dread about going to your dead-end job, for example, it could be a very good sign that you’re in the wrong job or industry and you need to get out.
2. When have I been the happiest in my life?
Let go of thinking about how you can translate what you love into a career - at least for now. Just sit back and think about the circumstances, surroundings and people that make you the happiest.
3. What have I always wanted to accomplish?
What are the things you’ve always wanted to do? What’s holding you back from doing that thing? Take a deep look at whether the thing that’s holding you back is rooted in reality or in fear.
4. Why have I wanted to accomplish that thing?
Taking a look at the reasons for wanting to accomplish that thing can help you determine whether it’s something rooted in love, status, pride, or something else. If it’s rooted in love, that could be a good sign.
5. What makes me feel uncomfortable?
Exploring your fears – and the reasons behind that fear – can also help you figure out whether you’re on the right track with your current path, as well as help you discover more about the path you see yourself going down. Does the new path feel an uncomfortable one? Is it just fear of the unknown or something else?
6. What do I think I'm good at?
Doing something that you know you’re good at can give you lasting confidence. Is there a way to translate that into a vocation or career?
7. What do others think I'm good at?
While it’s not always good to be externally focused, reminds Susan Biali, M.D. on Psychology Today, reviewing what others say you’re good at can give you a direction to aim toward in life.
8. What do I want?
Make a list of the things you want – both material and physical. Is what you’re doing – or what you want to do – going to help you get there?
9. What do I need?
Similarly, make a list of the things you need in life – which could tend to be a much simpler list that includes only things like shelter, food, clothing, and so on. Will you be able to get the things you need by pursuing your life’s purpose?
10. How can I accomplish both wants and needs?
Sometimes, your life’s purpose isn’t going to be the thing that pays the bills, suggests Dr. Biali. If that’s the case for you, it might be time to review how you can integrate a purposeful life with a life that allows you to meet your needs and satisfy some of your wants. Finding the equilibrium between meeting all your needs and living a life that gives you purpose and happiness is a balancing act for sure, but it gets easier when you know that what you’re doing means something to you.
Going through this process can be time-consuming, and even when you’ve done it once, you might find you have to do it all over again every so often. But the process can help you continue to learn, grow, and live a life that you love.