When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I thought my true purpose was to work with kids. In fact, I wanted to be a child psychologist and even worked in the field of education because I loved kids so much. However, after years of working with children and then transitioning into working with adults, I discovered that my true purpose wasn’t working with children at all but something much different.
So, the big question is: How do you discover your true purpose? It is my hope to answer that in this post.
The first step in discovering your purpose is to ask questions. Not the one such as “What is my purpose?” or “Why am I on this planet?” or “Why do I exist?” No! Those are surface questions. The true questions should be “What will give my life meaning?” or “What gives me the greatest joy?” Initially, these may seem to be things you find yourself interested in doing such as working with kids, or being crafty, or playing music, or handling arguments between friends. However, these are still surface activities. They are not allowing you to discover true value and intention in your life.
As I stated earlier, I always thought my true purpose was to work with kids. I loved kids! I loved their innocence. I loved their willingness to learn. I loved their carefreeness. However, I also loved that children were people I could act as their mentor or guide in life before all the craziness of the world could sweep them into the madness. That was something that was fulfilling to me. Knowing that I could impact them in such a way to make a difference in their lives.
Reflect On Your Activities
Asking those initial questions were what caused me to look deeper into not only the things I did to mentor and help guide children but what I did within my career, at my church, and around my community that also served the same purpose. I discovered that the jobs I pursued (working in human services and being an educator) also related to helping, guiding, mentoring, and serving others. It was something that at the end of the day, I was able to look back and say I made a difference in their lives. This was so powerful to me that when I reflected on the various tasks and activities I did collectively it always brought tears to my eyes. That was my passion. That was my purpose.
Plan How Your Activities Will Align with Your Purpose
Once I was able to identify my purpose, I wanted to ensure that the activities I engaged in, the jobs I took on, the people in my life all related to me fulfilling my purpose. So, if you’re not in a job where you’re fulfilling your purpose or you’re not in a relationship with someone who fosters the impact of your purpose, it is time to reflect and reassess whether they are right for you. In fact, this is what leads many people to feelings of depression, dissatisfaction, anxiety, helplessness, and hopelessness. They spend so many years in a job they hate or in a relationship that does not align with their purpose that they constantly experience illness such as headaches, nausea, mood disorders, insomnia, and more simply because they are not engaging in activities that are aligned with their purpose.
So, get a paper and let’s start planning.
- Write down all of the activities that you engage in on a daily basis. This includes the jobs you pursue, the chores you do around the house, charities you donate to, people you read about of watch because they inspire you, activities you volunteer with, and other tasks you’ve engaged in over the years. Right now, don’t worry about whether they make you smile or not. Just focus on writing down these activities.
- Now’s where you want to narrow down your list of activities to the things you truly enjoy. These are the activities that you would engage in even if you weren’t paid to do them or weren’t obligated to do them to keep yourself or others sane.
- Find a connection between these activities. What makes them align? Something like “They allow me to be creative” or “They require me to multi-task” or “I need to be organized and knowledgeable” are great starters but they’re also surface reasons. Once you find these surface reasons, focus on a more emotional connection and relate it to others. This could be “They provide hope for others” or “They make others happy and provide them with a sense of peace” or “They give others freedom”. This will be your true purpose.
- Think about your initial purpose. I also want you to think back on your initial purpose because a lot of times, the initial purpose could also be barriers or negative thought patterns that keep you where you are today. For example, although I felt my true passion was working with kids, I discovered that I had a real fear of working with my peers (people my own age who could potentially criticize my knowledge, skills, and abilities). Subconsciously, I knew that children would view me as the expert because I had more life experience and could show them ways to overcome their challenging situations. However, once I was able to understand this fear, I realized it didn’t matter whether others judged me (regardless of their age). As long as I was still engaging in a task or activity that was aligned with my purpose of helping, mentoring, and serving others I was truly happy and content and the fear was no longer a factor.
So, are you ready to discover your true purpose? Well, grab a paper and pencil and let’s get started! I can’t wait to know what you’ve discovered!
Koryne C. Nnoli is an author, blogger, speaker, and life coach. She works with women to help build their confidence so they can take their happiness to the next level. For more information about her and The Shy Diva Society, visit her website at www.theshydiva.com.