Tips to Discover Your Purpose
Five Tips to Discovering Your True Purpose
The question is as old as humans have been around to think it - "Why am I here?" Discovering your true purpose in life has long been one of mankind's greatest challenges. The problem of course, is that while the question is the same, the answer is unique to each of us, and only we can find the answer for ourselves. As you search for your own answer, keep the following five tips in mind.
1. Discovering your true purpose is a process, not an event. There are hundreds (thousands?) of tests and assessments out there that attempt to define your personality, identify your strengths and direct you to your true purpose. While some of these are very good and helpful, seldom is the answer revealed as the result of any single activity or event. Rather, the discovery of your true purpose is usually the result of several thought-provoking activities performed over a period of time with space in between to allow your sub-conscious mind time to mull-over what has been triggered during the exercises. Over time, certain themes begin to develop that instinctively feel as if you're heading down the right path. Sometimes those subconscious themes reveal themselves in a moment of "A-Ha" clarity, while for others it will be just a gradual sense of growing confidence and commitment to a purpose that just feels right. The key is to allow yourself time to let the answers come to you.
2. Discovering your true purpose requires effort and self-examination. To get your subconscious mind to mull-over the possibilities, you've got to consciously give it something to work on. This means setting aside time to dig into your memories, beliefs and values and ask yourself questions that we would sometimes prefer not be asked. One of the most common exercises is to identify, and write out in as much detail as possible, at least five (preferably ten - the more the better) instances of when you participated in activities that made you feel alive and lose track of time. Look for themes, common interests or activities that might yield clues. Take some time away from your stories and come back to them later to see if any new clues reveal themselves. Other life purpose exercises can be found in related articles on the rethinkingretirement.com website.
3. Your true purpose will likely play off your strengths and natural gifts. While we're constantly told "You can be or do anything you want," the fact of the matter is we are all naturally gifted and inclined to do certain things better than others. Identifying your personal strengths and those things you do naturally well can provide critical clues to your true purpose. Note also, that we're talking about strengths and gifts, not interests or activities. For an interest to graduate to a purpose, it should be something that you do naturally well.
4. Your true purpose will have two dimensions - the essence and the expression. Marcia Bench, founder of the Career Coach Institute, encourages her clients to write out their life purpose statements in two parts. The first is known as the essence which remains relatively stable and unchanging over time. The essence describes in very broad terms what the individual views as their true purpose. The second part is the expression which may constantly change but indicates how the purpose is being fulfilled in one's life. Dr. Lloyd Thomas, co-author of Total Life Coaching, suggests that the essence of one's purpose should be intentionally as broad as it can be to allow more opportunities to express that purpose in a variety of ways.
5. Your true purpose has a way of calling to you, if you listen for it. Too often we get caught up in our busy everyday lives and forget to listen to the little voice in our head. Sometimes we suppress that voice for so long that when we finally get restless and decide to listen for it, it's no longer there. When that happens, it's like being lost without a compass. To recover your bearings, you need to practice listening. Whether it be through yoga, meditation or simply the practice of sitting quietly for 5-15 minutes each day, you need to create the space within your mind that will allow the voice to come through.
Through conscious examination of your values, interests and strengths as well as freeing up space within your mind to allow your subconscious to work things out, your true purpose will eventually reveal itself. How you express that purpose may change as your life evolves, but having identified that purpose will always provide you with a strong direction in your life.
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