“If you place a thing in the center of your life
That lacks the power to nourish
It will eventually poison everything that you are
And destroy you.
As simple a thing as an idea
Or your perspective on yourself of the world.
No one can be the source of your content,
It lies within, in the center.”
Alarm goes off. Your immediate reaction is not “Yes, baby! I’m alive. Another day, Let’s get started!”
But it’s more like “somebody shoot me now, I can’t face another day in the office doing stuff I really don’t care about.”
Do you often get frustrated that you are not feeling motivated to give life your best shot? That actually, it is possible to have a more fulfilling life, if only you can work out how?
Instead of spending time doing something that really sets your heart on fire, are you using your limited time on the planet to be more focused on the plotline of the latest telenovela or soap opera – instead of working out what will truly make you happy?
Are you spending too much time on things (and people) that are not nourishing, but are really distractions to fill the gap of not having a sense of direction?
I’ve been there too.
It’s a horrible feeling.
If it goes on and on, then it can be soul destroying and draining.
But there is ABSOLUTELY a way out of this and a much better way to live.
It’s quite possible that what could be missing from your life is having a very clear or at least a very strong sense of PURPOSE.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY PURPOSE?
When I say life purpose it might sound very abstract and even a bit pretentious. It’s a big word and might put you off even trying to find one.
But stick with me and stay open-minded!
All I really mean is:
Being SUPER CLEAR what are the PRINCIPLES at the CENTRE of your life and WHY they energise and drive you.
When you are clear about what your principles are you can try and shape and live your life around these as much as possible. You can shape how you behave every day to try and live in line with these principles. When you do that you’ll build a strong foundation and because you’ll be more connected to what really matters to you, eventually you will discover a clearer sense of who you are.
What I do pose below are some ideas to start getting you to question and think about how to move closer to a purpose in life.
Now, I don’t believe everyone has a unique purpose (or even needs to).
I worry that this idea encourages people to think they are special for the wrong reasons.
That they need to have some kind of a ‘grand’ purpose.
I think a purpose in life is a lot simpler and people are special for much more simpler, beautiful and natural reasons – a beautiful smile, their kindness, an infectious laugh. The list goes on.
I’m not saying that a purpose might not have a grand impact, but it isn’t the impact that matters. It’s the reasons and intention behind the purpose and what determines if a purpose is motivating enough.
WHY IS LIFE PURPOSE IMPORTANT AND WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
The principles that make up the foundation of a life purpose play a huge part in shaping:
- Who you think you are.
- The ideas about yourself.
- How you act and behave towards others.
- Your ideas about life and the world around you.
When you discover a clear and strong purpose, because it is so motivating, you can’t fail to take action.
It also helps you assess if you are actually trying to living life fully, or just drifting on through.
When you have a clear sense of purpose (not a perfect purpose) it’s a first step to knowing what is going to bring you more:
- Meaning– because you have a compelling reason for your life.
- Fulfilment– as you know if are you thinking, speaking and acting in a way that gets you close to that MEANING that life will be more satisfying.
- Connection– because in matching MEANING + BEHAVIOUR, you’ll start feeling more INTEGRATED inside. As you get more integrated you’ll feel more CONNECTED. As you gain more meaning and fulfilment you create an identity that makes sense to you and feels right.
When your purpose is real and substantial and solid, the chances are you will feel a lot happier if you are living your principles, even when difficulties come along (which they will!).
You don’t have to go through each day with low level anxiety and suffering.
And your purpose could be as reflected in something as straightforward as being an amazing dad, mum, husband, wife, a great manager and leader, providing brilliant services to others, right through to totally revolutionising the way the world works.
Whatever it is, you DO NOT need a ‘cool’ purpose.
Or an Instagrammable purpose for the likes.
Or a purpose to dazzle your social circle and keep up apperances.
Impress mum or dad.
Or people you don’t even know and will never meet.
WHAT CAN YOU START THINKING ABOUT NOW TO DISCOVER A PURPOSE IN LIFE?
- TREAT YOUR LIFE SERIOUSLY
I mean take seriously the fact you are alive, have a wonderful opportunity to discover more about you, be of help and value to people in your life and people you have not even met yet.
I don’t mean become a person who has an overinflated view of themselves.
You might think the aspirations you have about hoping for a better quality of life or different relationships are silly.
Or that crazy idea you got about a new product or app will never be a success.
Or the service you want to create will never really help people.
You might think that drifting through life, or feeling frustrated you aren’t getting the opportunities you want is just the way the cookie crumbles.
Start a process of exploring what’s really driving the belief that you must accept the way things are or that a dream is way out of reach and not possible to make real.
In practical terms:
Start paying more attention to your mindset- what you think, what you say, how you act. Are you knocking your own dreams with unhelpful thinking and not even realising it.
What are the limits you are imposing on yourself?
It takes time to work out your purpose. It won’t just happen overnight.
So, start scheduling some time every day or every few days a week to start thinking through this.
Scheduling time means you are starting to take yourself seriously.
You can’t make the excuse that “I don’t have time.”
Get up early if you must.
Delay watching Netflix for a week.
Take your lunch break and make it your time to start thinking.
If you don’t plan it in, it’s way too easy for this not to happen for another week, another month.
- START DEFINING THOSE PRINCIPLES
These principles should be so fundamental to who you are that you could not imagine trying to live without these.
For example, self improvement is a massive principle of mine, as is love and connection, independence, growth and freedom to choose. I’d be totally unhappy if I could not fulfill these.
But I can live without security (i.e. constant stability) and I’m not very big on tradition for tradition’s sake (if anything, I kick against it)
But for you, these might be absolutely crucial to who you are.
It’s vital to think about why certain principles are important as well though.
Otherwise how do you know why these are crucial TO YOU?
Just going through the process of questioning and interrogating what you think is important to you may help you get a bit clearer or reveal things you’d forgotten or didn’t even realise!
- UNDERSTAND THAT PURPOSE IS NOT THE SAME AS PLEASURE. THEY ARE SOOOO DIFFERENT!
You can also make the mistake of dealing with difficulty and suffering through pleasures.
Pleasure is not the same as purpose.
Pleasure is not the same as purpose. I’ll say it one more time…
Pleasure is not the same as purpose.
Fill the lack of satisfication with purpose not pleasure.
When you do, it is also less likely you will live the life or drama of someone else (family, friends or society) or be anxious about meeting their expectations because you’ll be very clear about what drives you and WHY.
Because this ‘why’ is PARAMOUNT, FUNDAMENTAL and INDISPENSABLE to who you are and how alive you feel.
If purpose brings meaning, then why don’t we naturally gravitate to this?
But if purpose brings more fulfilment than temporary pleasures, why do we run away from it?
I think because really living your purpose can be really hard work. But it’s worth it.
You might not see the point immediately and there may not be immediate gratification.
So we opt for pleasure which is easier, more immediate, and does not need as much effort, concentration or committment.
You don’t really have to make tough choices or trade offs when it comes to pleasure.
Trust me, when it comes to finding and following a purpose, you do have to make real choices.
Purpose helps to get off rollercoaster of random and constant distractions, and it is a rollercoaster if you fill the gap of happiness with things that don’t fit your purpose.
- “TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT, WHAT YOU REALLY, REALLY WANT.”
This lyric from smash girl group The Spice Girls is what you need to ask yourself!
What do you really want deep down!
Not so much specifying the exact details of different areas of life, but trying to get to a definition that’s clear enough that you have a reference you can constantly go back to.
It will help to keep you on the look out for opportunities to live that life purpose, or keep you aware that you need to start edging towards it. You can start to make minor and major choices based on this too.
Knowing what you really want, what you really really want, helps you to make choices that require you to demonstrate greater integrity and show yourself that you really, really want it.
For example, you want a life based on principle of health – that means you might need to change your diet or start sports/gym.
You want a live based on principle on courage – that means you might need to start taking a few little risks that stretch you, put yourself in situations that will take you out of your comfort zone, or even do something as simple as studying more about people with courage.
- DECIDE WHO’S LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE
“Am I in, or am I out?”
If you are getting clearer about your purpose and why it matters, you’ll need to make a decision about follow-through.
You’ll need to ask yourself if you are all in.
That’s scary if your life is being lived according to what other people expect of you, think about you, or will say about you, if you decide to do something a little different and break their rules and self-imposed taboos.
Note, it’s their rules, not your rules.
Family, friends, society will always expect you to conform to a certain degree. I also have expectations of the people I care about or interact with and they have expectations of me.
That’s ok, and necessary, up to a point.
It depends on whether those expectations are small and realistic, or big and unrealistic or unfair. I think the higher the degree of unrealism/unfairness that other’s have, the more it’s for selfish reasons: e.g. others are afraid you will rock their boat, take them out of their emotional or mental comfort zone.
That’s not about you, it’s about them.
So how about you start making rules for yourself, and by committing to live those new principles, to decide your own life purpose, not live the life of others.
You really don’t need to make a grand announcement (but hey go ahead if you want to, with kindness and humility!).
The most important thing is directing your emotional and physical energy to keep living your life purpose, every single day, till it becomes natural, normal, and people around you just notice it. Some will accept it. Some won’t.
Don’t let others pimp out your life on THEIR expectations and dreams.
How to stick to this? One way is to keep in mind what the consequences will be short term and long term if you carry on making choices that serve others only rather than your life purpose.
For example, your self esteem is likely to be more damaged in the long term if you keep pretending.
But, you could be healthy and happier, if you follow through on your purpose, even if there’s discomfort and pain for a period of time.
- GET A PLAN TO BE PRODUCTIVE
But though you know your purpose, it is totally essential to live it with consistency and discipline if you really want to experience the benefits for the rest of your life. That’s also the subject of future blog articles.
To make your life purpose happen and benefit from the experience of living it, you need motivation, focus and to make sure you are productive.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow won’t just fall in your lap.
You have to walk to the end of the rainbow at least.
Same thing with making your dreams a reality.
So to close..the 10 tips for starting to discover a life purpose (drum roll…)
- BE CLEAR WHAT YOUR PRINCIPLES ARE.
- MAKE SURE THEY ARE THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR LIFE.
- BE CLEAR WHY THEY MATTER TO YOU.
- THE PRINCIPLES THAT MAKE UP YOUR PURPOSE SHOULD BE PARAMOUNT, FUNDAMENTAL AND INDISPENSABLE.
- TREAT YOUR LIFE SERIOUSLY.
- START DEFINING THOSE PRINCIPLES.
- PLEASURE IS NOT THE SAME AS PURPOSE.
- WORK OUT WHAT YOU WANT, WHAT YOU REALLY, REALLY, WANT.
- DECIDE WHO’S LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE.
- GET A PLAN TO BE PRODUCTIVE
Coaching is a great service to help you define a passionate purpose, find massive motivation and get you to be a powerhouse of productivity.
One of the benefits is that it will help you get to where you want to, faster and in a shorter space of time.
Reach out if you’d like to talk about how my coaching can help you get closer to finding a purpose in life.
You can also check out more motivational work via my Instagram link and you can find out more about me and how I can help here.