A How-To Guide for Discovering your Purpose in 4 Simple Steps
Have you ever had this deep knowing that something’s just not right?
It’s not something you can verbalize. It’s more like a feeling. One so strong that it sits like a stone in the pit of your stomach.
This is the epitome of a time when you want to trust your gut and take action. But there’s just one thing.
Even though you’re aware something is off, you can’t put your finger on what it is. You feel like you’ve reached a fork in the road. You have to turn right or left. But you have no idea where you want to go. So how can you possible choose?
^^ This is one of the most common scenarios I hear from my clients when discussing their career trajectory. They have a vision of their lives being so much… more. Of being able to
Make an impact.
Leave a legacy.
Wake up inspired every day.
Identify and connect to their sense of purpose.
Yet all of this stuff is so abstract. They don’t know where to begin. Being asked the question of “Well, what do you want to do with your life” or “What type of job or opportunity are you looking for” makes them cringe. They might as well be in a room with someone running their nails across a chalkboard.
Because they’re already hard on themselves for not having the answer. So when someone else asks, it’s like being kicked when they’re down.
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Using a simple, 4-step exercise, you can uncover what your purpose is. Or, put differently, you can discover what I like to call your North Star. This is information you’ll use to inform your decisions and what you want to do next.
But before I go on, let me pause. For many, the quest to “find your purpose” is daunting and defeating. Because they have varied interests that change over time. Or the thought of finding that ONE thing and sticking with it for the rest of their lives sounds terrible, quite frankly.
Can you relate? If so, you’re not alone.
Finding your purpose isn’t and doesn’t have to be a “one and done” kind of thing. It can change and evolve over time. The truth? Chances are, it will. (If you don’t believe me or if you want to get more inspired around this, be sure to listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent episode, The Curiosity-Driven Life, on Oprah’s Super Soul Podcast. It’s a goodie!).
So whether you’re looking for THE answer or AN answer for now, this exercise is for you. Use it as a guide to help you figure out your next move.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Grab a notebook and a pen. Find a quiet spot where you’ll be left undisturbed for 20-25 minutes. Take about 3-5 minutes to answer each question below. I recommend setting a timer (if you use your phone, put it on airplane mode first) so you can free write without worry.
Now, these questions aren’t meant to be easy. Try not to overthink them – just write the first thing that comes to mind. And as soon as you start writing, don’t stop until you hear the timer go off. Keep your pen on the page.
Question #1 – What is your real passion?
Question #2 – How would you like to be remembered?
Question #3 – What would you do if you had no fear?
Question #4 – If your life until today was your training period, what has life prepared you for?
Grab a new piece of paper. Think of your top 3-4 favorite activities – those you enjoy most. Make a column for each. Underneath, list out all the reasons why and what makes you love it. For example, I love to cook because it’s fun, a creative outlet, community-oriented, etc. Note: There’s no right or wrong here!
Now that you have your list from Step 2, observe the patterns you see across each activity. Circle them and write out what themes stand out to you. Pro tip: patterns reveal that you’re on the right track.
Craft a sentence using the common phrases/patterns/themes you found between your favorite activities. Try to make it as succinct as you can. Once you have it, that’s your purpose statement. It’s your North Star – your “why” – for whatever you want to do next.
I’m sharing this exercise with you because I’ve done it myself. The experience was eye opening for me and my realizations were profound. My top three activities were coaching, cooking and working out/physical fitness. Within that, I identified the following themes: connection/community, support, trying new things/challenging myself (personal growth).
Which led me to my own purpose statement: Foster a deep sense of connection and community within myself and with others to provide support and facilitate personal growth.
This is my why. The meaning behind my work. Because I believe mindfulness allows you to more deeply connect with yourself, which in turn builds empathy and connection because you start to see yourself in others. Every time I find myself stuck in doubt or fear, I return to this statement. It reminds me that everything is okay, and that I’m still on the path to my greater goal. That I’m following my north star.
Try out the exercise, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear what your personal statement is and what it means to you!
Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org