I’ve had quite a few conversations in the past few months around finding your purpose, or the ‘thing’ you’re meant to do. Nearly everyone at some point wonders how to find what it is they’re meant to be doing in life.
I believe we all have a purpose, and if we can find what it is, we would have made our difference in the world.
First, lets get a few truths out of the way: we will all leave this world with what we brought into it. It’s the in-between that we have to make something remarkable of. We only get one life…so we might as well spend it doing amazing things.
Let’s also assume if you’re reading this you’ve probably got a pretty good head start in life; you can read and write, you have access to technology, you probably don’t need to spend the majority of your day searching for food or water. If you’re fortunate to live in a country where you feel safe most of the time (no wars raging in your backyard, you have human rights), that’s an even better head start. If you have easy access to education and healthcare, and you can find a fairly paying job if you have to (even if it’s minimum wage sweeping floors), great.
You have everything you need to find your passion, make a difference and live a happy, fulfilling life. What you need to do is figure out what those three things mean to you.
A lot of people I talk to already know what it is they really want to do deep down, but sometimes it takes a long time to voice it. A lot of the time is a sort of fear; they’ve put what they really want to do on a sort of pedestal, and feel like it’s unachievable. Other people think their dreams are too simple and not ambitious enough.
I’ve also talked to people who have mixed up the emotions they want to feel with things they thought they wanted. They thought they knew exactly what they wanted, and perhaps even took the plunge. A lot of the time, it didn’t work out how they thought, or they didn’t feel how they expected to feel afterwards.
Essentially, what the two of these situations result in is a feeling of something missing, or feeling lost, unfulfilled, unsatisfied and discontent.
If this is something you can relate to, here are five ideas to try:
1. Take some time by yourself and work out what truly drives you. Think emotionally; exactly what is it that is most important to you? Do you prefer to feel free, safe, happy, loved, appreciated, respected, protective, loving, excited, relaxed, nurtured or nurturing? Most people will have a mix of all of these, but some will be more important to you than others.
2. This is can be a very difficult step, but the next phase is to understand that a lot of these feelings, especially happiness, have to come from within yourself. Absolutely nothing will bring you lasting happiness if you are not happy within. Some things may make you temporarily feel happy; material possessions, new places, relationships; but it will never last. All that will happen is you will get caught in an endless cycle of needing to purchase more things, or constantly seeking new places you’ll be ‘happier’ in, or constantly looking for the ‘one’ who will make you happy. If you’re unable to do those things you’ll be in a constant state of discontent. You have to find this for yourself. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter what you do or achieve…you’ll still feel the same.
So how do you find happiness within? That will be a whole post just in itself, but here is the basic principle; fall in love with yourself! Love who you are, love your body and love your mind. If you can truly feel love for yourself, you’ll start doing things only you can do to make yourself happier. You’ll eat better, because you’ll love your body and want to it be strong and healthy. You’ll go for a walk outside each day because you know you’ll love the time out, and your body will love the fresh air, light exercise and relaxation. You’ll read more, because you’ll want to fuel your amazing mind, and you’ll avoid the negative; news, people, tv shows, and Facebook stalking, because you just don’t need it. You want to feel good. So do things that will make yourself feel good.
The most amazing thing about this is that you can literally do this right now, and even if you don’t love yourself 100%, you can trick yourself till you do. If you’re in a place where you might need to trick yourself into believing this, set three alarms on your phone. First thing in the morning, last thing at night and once in between, you are going to get a little reminder to stop what you’re doing and give yourself a sweet little compliment, or listen to your favourite song, just smile at how cheesy this feels, but how secretly awesome it is. Just something that makes you feel good, three times every day.
3. Ok, those are two big things; identify the emotions you value the most, and realize that you have to be the source of your own happiness. The third step is to think about what you might like to do, but figure out why. Leave money and ‘how’ out of the equation right now. For instance, ‘I want to open up my own shop’. Is it that you truly want to be your own boss, or the boss of other people, or is it that you want control over your own decisions, or is it that you want a creative outlet, or is it that you want a business that you can grow into an empire, or is it that you want a relaxing place where you can be surrounded with what you love and meet other people who love the same thing? What is it exactly? When you think about everything that comes with it, is that aligned with your initial values? For instance, ‘I want to own a shop’, but you’re a private person who is a bit of a homebody and values safety and security…how will you go dealing with customers, staff, marketing, etc.? What about everything else that comes with it? Or is this something you’ll thrive on, and see as fun? Figure out if you actually want to do this, or whether it’s just the idea of it that you’ve fallen in love with.
Is it something that you’re truly willing to become an expert in? Something that you know will continue to drive you even if things get tough? Something that you could imagine yourself doing?
4. If you stay on this step for a while, that’s fine. Try getting inspiration from reading new books, trying new things and meeting new people. Keep building on step 2! If you’re starting to figure out your passion and think you know what it is, then take steps to start living it, even if they are baby steps. You can do this with a day job! Research, build ideas, start saving money, take a part time class, volunteer or try to work in the industry, meet people who are doing the same thing…do whatever you need to do to start implementing this for yourself. Use all the resources you have at your disposal, which, no matter who you are, is going to be a lot. Research is free, people generally like to help others out.
5. The last step is to find a way to make this what you do in life. Depending on what it is, you may have to get a little creative, but that’s all part of it! It honestly doesn’t matter whether your ‘thing’ is to become a social entrepreneur that makes life easier for millions of people, or whether it’s to grow and sell your own organic veges. We can all make an impact in this world, and one of the best ways to do that is by being a happy, healthy person. You’ll inspire others to do the same, and we’ll all be better for it.