“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.”
The alarm clock goes off. Your immediate reaction isn´t “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 on distractions to fill the gap from not having a sense of direction?
I’ve been there too.
It’s a horrible feeling.
If it goes on for too much time it can be soul destroying and draining.
But there absolutely is 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?
What do I mean by purpose?
When I say ´purpose´ it might sound very abstract and even a bit pretentious but 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 your life on the basis of these as much as possible. You can focus on behaving every day in way that aligns with what´s truly important to you. When you do this you’ll start to build a better foundation for your life, because you’ll be a little more connected to yourself. After some time you´ll eventually discover a clearer sense of who you are and want to be.
What I suggest below are some ideas to help you think about how to move closer to a purpose in life.
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 beautiful and special for many simple and natural reasons – a beautiful smile, acts of 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 a purpose that matter and if it´s motivating enough.
A purpose in life will help you to know yourself better
The principles that make up the foundation of a life play a huge part in shaping:
- Who you think you are.
- How you behave towards others.
- Your ideas about life and the world around you.
When you discover a clear and strong purpose that´s motivating you can’t fail to take action. Or, at least, the odds are you´ll at least try.
Finding a purpose is a vital step to knowing what is going to bring you more:
- Meaning: because you have a compelling reason for your life.
- Fulfilment: as if you are thinking, speaking and acting in a way that gets you close to that meaning, then life will be more satisfying.
- Connection– because in matching meaning and behaviour, you’ll start feeling more integrated inside. As you become 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.
Your purpose could be 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, an Instagrammable purpose for the likes, a purpose to dazzle your social circle and keep up appearances or to impress mum or dad.
You just need a purpose that´s right for you and doesn´t harm the people around you.
What to start doing and thinking about now
Treat your life seriously
I mean take seriously the fact you are alive, have a wonderful opportunity for a fulfilling life, and to be of service to people in your life and people you have not even met yet.
I don’t mean to become a person who has an overinflated view of themselves.
You might think the aspirations you have for improving your life are silly.
Or the crazy idea you have for a new product or service will never be a success or really help people.
You might think that drifting through life or feeling frustration because 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 too out of reach.
Some practical tips are:
Start paying more attention to your mindset: what you think, what you say, how you act. Are you destroying your own dreams with destructive thinking and not even realising it.
What are the limits you are imposing on yourself?
It takes time to discover a purpose. It won’t just happen overnight.
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.
Get up early if you must.
Delay watching Netflix for a week.
Take the lunch break you are entitled to and use the time to start working out what matters to you.
If you don’t plan this step, it’s way too easy for this not to happen for another week, another month or another year.
Start defining those principles
These principles should be so fundamental to who you are that you could not imagine trying to live without them.
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 live these.
But I can live without security (i.e. constant stability) and I’m not very big on tradition for tradition’s sake.
However, 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 really fundamental, motives you and can help you get clearer or reveal things you’d forgotten or didn’t even realise.
Understand that purpose is not the same as pleasure.
You can also make the mistake of dealing with difficulty and suffering through pleasure.
Pleasure is not the same as purpose.
Fill the lack of satisfaction 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 more fulfilment than temporary pleasures, why do we run away from it?
I think because really living your purpose can be really hard work, though it is worth it.
You might not see the point immediately and there may not be immediate gratification.
It´s easy to opt for pleasure which might be instant and doesn´t need as much effort, concentration or commitment.
You don’t really have to make tough choices or difficult decisions when it comes to pleasure.
When it comes to finding and following a purpose you do have to make real choices.
“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 but trying to get to a definition that’s clear enough so it´s a helpful reference you can constantly go back to.
It will help to keep you on the lookout for opportunities to live your purpose in life.
Knowing what you really, really want, helps you to make choices that require you to demonstrate greater integrity and show yourself that you do actually want change.
For example, you want a life based on the principle of health – that means you might need to change your diet or start sports/gym.
You want a life based on the 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
Are you in or are you 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 social rules and self-imposed taboos there may be disapproval.
However, 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 others 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 about them, not you.
How about you start making rules for yourself by committing to live by your principles, decide your own purpose and not live the life of others.
You really don’t need to make a grand announcement. The most important thing is directing your emotional and physical energy to live your purpose in life 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. Though, 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
You may discover a purpose but it´s also totally essential to living it with consistency and discipline if you really want to experience the benefits for the rest of your life.
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.
In summary, the 9 tips for starting to discover a purpose in life:
- Be clear what your principles are.
- Be clear why they matter to you
- Make sure they are the foundation of your life.
- The principles that make up your purpose should be paramount, fundamental and indispensable.
- Treat your life seriously.
- Pleasure is not the same as purpose.
- Work out what you want, what you really, really want.
- Decide if you want to live your life or someone else´s life.
- 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.
Check out some other articles I’ve written that might help and don´t forget to subscribe to get new content and my newsletter with insights and tips direct to your inbox!