October 20, 2008 by Kevin Ngo
What’s the purpose of your life? Ask someone that question and you’ll most likely receive a blank stare. Why is that? Most people either never really gave it much thought or they just haven’t decided yet. Before I go any further, let me clarify my definition of “life purpose”.
I’m not talking about why we humans are here on this planet or the reason for our existence as a species. I believe that your life purpose is whatever you choose it to be. We’re never going to know for sure why we exist on this planet or where we’re going, if anywhere, after we die. What I’ll be writing about is the purpose of your specific life. Why you are here on this planet. And since I believe your life purpose is a choice, and not something that’s encoded in you the day you were born, my job is to help you find it.
Finding the purpose of your life can be a daunting task if you’ve never really thought about it. In this post, I’d like to share with you some ideas on finding the purpose of your life.
Finding your life purpose isn’t always an easy task. For some people it will take a lot of soul searching and digging to find an answer. For others, it may come to them relatively quickly. Yet for some, they may not be able to find their purpose no matter how hard they try, at least not right now with the way they may be approaching it. Now you may get into a situation where you find your purpose and a short time later you find that it wasn’t your purpose after all.
You see, the challenge with finding your true life purpose is that as you get more life experience, your purpose can be shifted. The reason is that you obtained more knowledge and life experience and through this, you learned more about yourself. Now if that’s the case, what do we do?
Break it Down into Stages
The answer is to break it down into stages. Now, some people will just know what their life purpose is from the beginning and will never change it until the day they die. Most people however, will have shifts in their purpose throughout their lives. So the goal here is to not get boggled down into trying to find the ‘be all end all’ purpose of your entire existence, but to look at where you are currently, your experience of life up until now, your passions, etc. and find a purpose that resonates with your current stage in life.
You might be asking, “Won’t this be more of a long-term goal rather than a life purpose?” The difference between a life purpose and long term goal is that with a long term goal, you eventually achieve it and then it ends. With a life purpose, you never actually “get there”. Meaning, until the day you die, there will be more you can do. For example, your long term goal might be to become a doctor. Your life purpose could be to help the sick become well. Once you become a doctor, goal achieved. But with your purpose, you’ll always be on the journey. There is no destination because unlike most goals, your life purpose is something you truly do just for the journey itself.
The Real Question
The question therefore is: What journey do you want your life to be on knowing that it will be never-ending?
As you can see, answering a question like that will require some effort and thought. It may be difficult to actually come up with one answer and vow to stick to it the rest of your life. Therefore, I suggest that you not find your “life” purpose but your current life stage purpose.
So here’s how you do it. Remember, don’t think that if you come up with your life purpose right now that you have to stick with it until the day you die. There’s going to be shifts in your purpose, and that’s okay. Let me give you an example. You may be in college and have a life purpose of traveling the world and building hospitals in third world countries. Years down the road, you start a family and are now more focused towards them instead. Your new life purpose shifts and now becomes to be the best parent you can be. So keep that in mind while you go through this exercise.
1. To begin with, take out a piece of paper or open up a word processor. What you will basically be doing is brainstorming. You want to set down some time where you won’t be distracted.
2. Write down what you feel the purpose of your life should be at this current stage in your life. You should keep it down to no more then a few sentences.
Here are some questions to help you:
- What do you love to do?
- What makes you full of passion and excitement?
- What makes you have tears of joy?
- Who are your role models and what about them do you admire?
- If money were not an issue, what would you spend your time doing?
- What accomplishments have made you feel proud and why?
- If every personal need you have is fulfilled, what would you want to do, if anything, for others?
- What have others throughout your life told you you’re good at?
- What would you want to do if you knew you only had 3 months to live and you’ve done all the personal things you’ve always wanted to do already?
Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to find a purpose that when you read it, you feel it, you can envision it and it makes you smile. Imagine living your life with that purpose in mind for the next year, 5 years, or 10 years. How does it make you feel? Your life purpose will be the fuel in everything you do. So you will need to find one that hits you emotionally. If you don’t have it yet, keep at it and expect to find the answer.
Purpose of Finding Your Purpose
Finding out your life purpose, at least for this stage in your life, will give you meaning in everything you do. When you live a life with purpose, you will be the one in the driver’s seat of your life. You’ll know where you’re going and why you do the things you do. You’ll wake up in the morning with a mission to work on and it’ll be your mission, not someone else’s so it’ll be something you want to do, not something you have to do. Whatever your current life purpose is, once you got it, write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it constantly until you memorize and internalize it.
You see, once you have that purpose, you’ll be clearer on what you need to work on. There will be less of an urge to waste time doing things like watching TV or sleeping too much. You’ll find that you will start enjoy doing things that pertain to your purpose even if you didn’t like doing it before.
You also might start disliking things that aren’t aligned with your purpose even if you use to like it. This might lead you to want to quit your job and start a new career or a business. I realize this isn’t always easy. But once you determine your current life purpose, it will drive you to make the difficult decisions, decisions that will alter the course of your life.
Some people will avoid defining their life purpose for this very reason. They may know deep down what their purpose may be but won’t admit to themselves what it is because they may be in a situation where they would have to decide to change their whole life right side up and that scares the daylights out of them. Instead they try to cling to security, what they know and what’s comfortable and at the same time endure through a life of complaining and emptiness and always feeling lost.
How to Pursue Your Purpose
Hopefully by now you have figured out what your life purpose is for this current stage in your life. Now it may be one that will last for the rest of your life, if so, that’s great. Remember, it’s okay to shift your purpose when you obtain more knowledge and find out more about yourself and gain more life experience. What you are passionate about today might not mean much to you later on. So now what do you do?
Start thinking about how you’d like to pursue your life purpose. Through what vehicle will you choose to live your mission? My life purpose is to make a positive impact on people’s lives by inspiring them to achieve their dreams. Now there are lots of “vehicles” I can choose. I can teach children, teach an adult class, write a book, travel around and speak to people at seminars, start a website, etc.
Once you figure out what vehicle you want to use, the next thing is to find out how you will incorporate it into your current life. You might be working at job you don’t like right now, but if you think of it as something you’re doing right now to support you while you become better skilled and knowledgeable in the things that will help you live your purpose, you won’t dread it as much.
As long as you know you’re doing something everyday that relates to your life purpose, you will feel a sense of joy or peace or excitement, etc. We can’t control every aspect of our lives, but we can control a few things here and there. Your financial situation may cause you to be stuck at a job you don’t like but it can’t stop you from doing one thing each day related to your life purpose.
I hope this post was helpful to you. What I laid out and explained here is just one way of finding your current life purpose. If you are still stuck on that, there are many resources out there with different techniques that might fit you better. The internet if filled with them. In any case, hopefully you will take the time and find out the answer no matter what because there’s not much that can give you a better feeling of knowing what your life purpose is, pursuing it, living it, and knowing that you’re doing what you believe you were meant to do.
Until next time…
Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.
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