3 Practical Steps to Finding and Living Your Purpose
The idea of finding one’s purpose in life can feel daunting.
How do I narrow down what I’m supposed to do with my life?
What if I get it wrong?
What if I don’t like this purpose 5, 10, 15 years from now?
What if my purpose means I have to change my life completely?
I get it: it feels scary to face the reality that the life you’ve created for yourself doesn’t quite fit anymore and things need to change.
I also understand the fear around the deep desire to find something more meaningful to do with oneself since time is precious and can’t be wasted.
It seems like a tall order, with a lot of room for disappointment and failure, but allow me to let you in on a little secret: it doesn’t have to be this hard or complicated to find your purpose and live it.
Entering your 40s (and beyond) will give birth to the natural desire to find more purpose and meaning to your life. But, for many, it feels too overwhelming to spend the time trying to figure it out, so you waste precious years ignoring the inner pull and end up building a mountain of regrets.
So, if that’s feeling all too familiar, then let me share a few practical steps to release that block, reclaim lost time, and redefine your future...
3 PRACTICAL STEPS TO FIND YOUR PURPOSE
One of the reasons so many people feel finding their purpose is too overwhelming, or out of their reach is because they see it as some big aha discovery that will require them to revamp their life completely.
Maybe that is where your purpose is hiding, but for many, that’s too daunting, so they stop right there and leave their purpose in the shadows.
It may not require going down a dark and scary rabbit hole to unearth the seed of inspiration.
Your purpose may be closer to your reality than you imagine!
So, with that in mind, let’s explore three practical steps to tune into yourself to uncover your truest desires and that elusive purpose in life.
Step 1: Slow down
Everyone is busy, busy, busy. There’s work responsibilities, family duties, appointments, errands, meetings, etc.
“I’m so busy” is a rallying cry of the “over 35” club!
But, if you’re busy 24/7, you’re essentially the hamster on the wheel, and you’re so tied up with chasing your to-do list and staying on top of your responsibilities that you’re simply existing, not living.
By being overcommitted and continuously on the go, you’re not giving yourself the time, or space, to expand within yourself.
To sift through the noise of life, you have to slow down to give yourself the space to tune into your inner voice, pick up on subtle (or not so subtle) clues about what’s making you curious, what isn’t feeling right, what you want more of, what you want less of.
Society tends to use busy-ness as a status symbol and to boost self-worth (“I’m so busy, so I must be important!”). But, it’s not a sustainable way to live because it’s seeking approval and acceptance outside of one’s self, which prevents you from knowing who you really are, and what you really want for yourself and your life.
Without those key insights, you’ll never find satisfaction in life, and create an existence that feels enriching and rewarding.
So, how do you slow down in this chaotic world to tune into yourself and your needs?
Set boundaries: Say ‘no’ to whatever’s filling up your schedule that isn’t critical. By saying ‘no,’ you’re protecting your energy and that’s taking care of yourself. Don’t want to volunteer to organize the neighborhood BBQ? Just say no.
Trust your judgment: When you allow yourself some space, and you begin to hear that little voice tell you what you want more of or less of, listen to it and trust yourself! If you feel a spark of curiosity, chase it! In fact, don’t question or judge yourself and that all-too-wise inner voice, simply honor it and follow it.
Step 2: Learn to Tune into Yourself
To find your purpose and live a more aligned life, you have to hear and trust that inner voice. But, you can’t hear that inner voice if it’s blocked.
For most people, the only inner voice they hear (and sadly, listen to) is the negative inner voice. That’s not the voice I’m talking about here. In fact, that particular voice needs to be quietened.
The inner voice that you need to cultivate a relationship with is the wise, supportive, non-judgmental voice. That voice is your power voice!
Unfortunately, that power voice is drowned out by all the self-doubts, shoulds & should nots, and overthinking.
So, to start hearing, trusting, and following that inner guidance system, you have to learn to tune into yourself. You can do that via a couple of simple practices:
Journal: There’s a whole host of scientific evidence that backs up the idea of writing by hand as a way to dig deeper into your psyche. A good question to ask yourself every day in your journal is “What do I want today?”. Then, set a timer for 3 minutes and let your pen reveal what’s hidden within yourself. For those 3 minutes, simply write with no judgment, no corrections, and no stopping.
Get quiet with yourself: Maybe you’re up for some meditation, maybe it’s going for a walk or a run, perhaps it’s writing in your journal, or maybe it’s baking bread. Whatever it is that you do that allows you to get lost within your thoughts, clear your mind, and feel recharged...do more of it (this doesn’t include sleeping/napping!). When you’re quiet with yourself, you open the window to hear your inner voice more clearly.
Step 3: Explore Your Curiosity and Desires
I like to call this process, inventuring!
Inventuring is all about getting curious with yourself:
What lights you up?
What makes you feel like a kid again?
What do you look forward to doing with childlike excitement?
What do you miss doing that you used to love to do?
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg and can provide clues as to what you want more of in life and what fuels you. These don’t have to equate to your purpose, but they may provide answers as to what will get you there.
But, don’t stop there! Other areas to explore within yourself include:
Your talents, gifts, and skills: What are you good at? What comes naturally to you? Again, don’t judge it or try to keep it in a container, just write it down.
What you value in life: Maybe you appreciate working with animals, maybe it’s helping women to rebuild their lives, maybe it’s traveling and exploring the world, or perhaps it’s cleaning up the environment and making the world a better place for your children. When you explore what feels meaningful to you, you uncover more evidence as to your purpose and calling in life.
Exploring requires you to try new things to get out of your rut and open your eyes to new realities.
Finding and living your purpose doesn’t have to mean reinventing your life. It may be reconnecting with the person you once were and picking up things you left behind when life got busy. Or, it may be discovering a new passion project to pour energy into on the side of your current life.
Whatever it is, your purpose deserves to be uncovered and explored. Your life depends on finding that golden nugget and tending it daily.
And about those what ifs….
You may get it wrong, but that isn’t a bad thing. That just means you haven’t landed on your purpose yet, and use that insight to guide your next step. When you look at it through that lens, it means you’ll never get it wrong.
It’s okay if your purpose changes over the years. In fact, I’d suggest that you expect it! You’re a human being, so that means you will grow, expand, and change over the years (that’s how you got right here!), and in 10, 15, 20 years, what you uncover as your purpose now, may no longer fit, and you’ll have to find your new purpose for your golden years. That’s okay and what makes life fun!
You might have to change your life completely to live your purpose, but you might not. And if you do, once you’ve made those changes and you’re living your purpose, won’t that be much better than feeling stuck in a life that doesn’t fit?