Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you, and bigger than your circumstances. And to find them you must get off that couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than you, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without you.
“What do I want to do with my life?” “What am I passionate about?” It’s a struggle almost every adult goes through. You even come across people in their 40s and 50s having no clue what they want to do with themselves. They could be highly qualified, having a great job, making plenty of money, but just existing.
For most of us, our day begins when we wake up, go to work, return home, prepare dinner, watch TV and hit the bed. Everything is routine, and you find your life is far from perfect because you are stuck in a rat race.
So when people say, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” what they’re actually asking is: “What can I do with my time that is important?” Discovering purpose in our lives can be something that’s fun and interesting, not a chore. Let’s find out;
Firstly, learn to be self-aware
It’s the very first obstacle you face when you want to live a more meaningful life. People tend to overrate their strong points and belittle their weak points. This prevents them from seeing the real picture. However, it is important to be realistic and not be afraid to face your drawbacks.
Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time.
So the question is: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the unescapable rotten days.
If you want to be a brilliant tech entrepreneur, but you can’t handle failure, then you’re not going to make it far. If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a teacher, but can’t stand the 80-hour workweeks, then we’ve got bad news for you. What unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? Are you able to have people laugh you off the stage over and over again until you get it right? When you know your personality you have better chances to figure out your purpose and stick to it.
Find your passion
What are you passionate about? What excites you or what makes you think, that I could do this all day and every day? That’s what really gives us the sense of purpose. What do you love to do most? Your passion makes your life worthwhile and meaningful.
What is true about you today that would make your 18-year-old self cry?
Soon after college, I started working, but I remember, after I returned from work, I would sit in my room for hours and make satin flowers, wedding centerpieces and lose myself making them. Not because I wanted to impress my parents or friends. But for the sheer joy of it.
And then, for some reason, I stopped. And I don’t remember why. We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we once loved to do. And it wasn’t until now, that I remembered how much I enjoyed creating art with my hands — something I did in my early teens, just for fun.
The funny thing though, is that if my 18-year-old self had asked me now, “Why don’t you make flowers or centerpieces anymore?” and I replied, “Because I’m not good at it,” or “Because nobody would want it,” or “Because you can’t make money doing that,” not only would I have been completely wrong, but that 18-year-old teen version of myself would have probably started crying.
Living a life avoiding embarrassment is akin to living a life with your head in the sand. Great things are, by their very nature, unique and unconventional. Therefore, to achieve them, we must go against the grain. To do that is scary, embrace embarrassment! Feeling foolish or failing is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful.
Keep things simple
Train your focus on the bigger picture you want to attain. Tending to trivial things can greatly complicate your life. Keep it simple. Screen through the petty things in your life and prioritize that what’s important. Not only will it help you to feel less overwhelmed, you’ll also see the path of your goals more clearly. It will enable you to lighten stress and be more contented with your life. Don’t be dictated by what other people think about you and don’t pretend to be someone else.
What makes you forget about yourself?
We’ve all have had that experience where we get so wrapped up in something that minutes turn into hours and hours turn into “Gosh, I forgot to have dinner.”
When making the satin flowers or centerpieces for the weddings, I would sit and place all attention and time to what I was making instead of doing more important things like cooking dinner or even speaking to my family.
It wasn’t until I gave up art that I realized my passion wasn’t in the making of the flowers or art pieces (although I do love them). My passion is for beauty and being good at it, and improving and making it better, and then trying to make it even more beautiful by blending it with themes. Just making flowers, centerpieces were cool, but I can easily live without them. It was the competition — with myself — that I thrived on. And when I applied that obsessiveness for improvement and self-competition to my creating art, well, things took off in a big way.
Whatever it is, don’t just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you, because they can be, easily applied elsewhere.
Make use of goal setting
Recognizing your goals isn’t enough, you should learn to decide the right goals. They should always be well-defined, realistic and set by timelines. Setting short-term and long-term goals can add a great meaning to your life. When you see the direction, it’s easier to stay motivated and determined. Your goals are the driving force that makes you get up earlier and work hard. Moreover, you’ll be able to use your time and energy more effectively, making you more productive and closer to realizing your dreams.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel better
Try to avoid toxic people who are constantly complaining, criticizing, nagging or negative. You know that habits are contagious and even if you don’t intend, you adopt the behavior of those who are around you. So surround yourself with people who can teach you something useful and spread positivity. Use every opportunity to communicate with a smart person and learn something new and helpful and stay motivated.
It is hard to stay inspired each day. Pat yourself for little achievements, read inspirational books, or get in touch with your friends. You can find a lot of things out there to always stay inspired. When you are focused and your efforts are steady you will avoid getting stuck in day-to day activities and look for alternate solutions. Traveling and learning something new are also great inspiration boosters. Try to draw inspiration from within you.
Never underrate the role of your family and your close ones
While thinking about your ultimate goal, many people imply only their job and underrate the importance of their family. However, family was and always will be your biggest support and help. You may become a first-rate professional, but if you fail as a parent or child, your life can hardly be called meaningful.
When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, and they don’t know what their values are. And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.
If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?
Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and insignificant. It pushes people to really think about their lives in a different way and re-evaluate what their priorities were.
How would you like if your headstone will read: “Here lies [Insert your name] (you), she/he watched every episode of “Desperate Housewives”… twice. What a wasted Life!”
What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? How can you start working towards that today?
A meaningful life will give you the feeling of fulfillment and you’ll feel happier and look forward to every day. To live your ultimate dream, you will find it difficult to begin, and will have to put in great efforts and have a lot of thought, but you can start with small steps and gradually incorporate all the habits into your life. Regardless of your purpose, strive your best to achieve it.