We’ve barely scratched the surface of January’s discussion on finding your purpose for now.
“YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT ONE OF THE LUCKY FEW WHO KNOW BEFORE YOU CAN EVEN WALK WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”
You are like the rest of us who hop from job to job and idea to idea — trying to figure out what you want to be. What you should be doing with the rest of your life.
But there is a roadmap to figuring this all out. If you’re struggling to find purpose and serious about doing whatever it takes to find it, here are 11 ways to do just that.
1. Take time to learn new skills
If you are always busy working and working on work, it may never dawn on you that you like to run, ride bikes, draw, work with children, and a million other awesome things. You need to take some time for yourself to try out new skills, new tasks, and new hobbies.
It’s not the end of the world if you try something new and you hate it. It’s really as easy as just picking something new to try. You may find out it’s what you really like to do and it may surprise you.
When you find even one small thing that makes you happy, you may have found your purpose.
2. Practice active (or passive) meditation
There are not enough good things that can be said about meditation.
Whether you are religious, spiritual, or atheist– practicing mindfulness, practicing meditation, in all of its forms will help you to focus on what your purpose is for right now.
There are apps you can download and listen as needed. There are videos on YouTube that will guide you through your meditation.
You can do it on your own in your car or office for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Here’s how: Just sit. Clear your mind. Stop thinking about everything. Focus on your breathing.
If purpose is your goal, focus on your purpose. Breathe in. Breathe Out. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Just do it.
3. Seek help from people who have been where you are
Last year I talked a lot about mentors. And I will touch on that again this year, because I believe a good mentor is the best tool you can have in your toolbox. But anyone who has been where you are is a good person to have in your life.
Whether it is a friend or a mentor, someone who knows some of the struggles you are going through, someone who understands and can warn you of your possible upcoming obstacles is good to have around.
Things happen. Especially if you are in new, uncharted territory. So grab a tour guide and take some of their advice. They’ve been through it all before and they may be able to help you understand your purpose for now.
4. Do what you would do if failure were impossible
If there was nothing holding you back. If you had all the money in the world. Unlimited resources. Unlimited time. Unlimited attention. What would you be doing with yourself?
“THAT THING THAT YOU WOULD BE DOING IF FAILURE WERE IMPOSSIBLE IS YOUR PURPOSE.”
Sure, it may change as you grow and develop new passions but you have to start somewhere.
So where would you start if you knew you could not fail?
5. Nurture your creative, artistic side
You don’t have to be the next Mozart. Or the next Picasso. You don’t even have to be the next Al Pacino. But if you want to be, you need to make time to nurture your creative muse.
If you have a creative side, you probably already know it. You’re the parent all the other parents call when a project is due. You are the one with thousands of followers on Pinterest (or Instagram). You are the one holed up writing a book that you think nobody will ever read, but you still feel like you need to write it. It doesn’t matter what your day job is.
If you have a creative side (and most people do), you need to nurture it and grow it. Because it may be your purpose.
6. Pay for help from a coach or strategist
If you need help finding your purpose, it may benefit you to hire a coach or a strategist. I’ve hired running coaches to teach me the tricks of the “thing” that I am passionate about. And people have hired me to help them strategize their business plans.
We all need a little help sometimes. And when you pay someone versus just getting advice from a friend or mentor, the results are different.
A coach or strategist is results-driven. They hold you accountable. They help you brainstorm new ideas. They aren’t concerned with your feelings like a friend. Plus, they know what’s worked for others in your position.
7. Make physical exercise (a.k.a. working up a sweat) a priority
Exercise brings clarity. Maybe it’s the fact that exercising regularly improves your quality of sleep. Maybe it’s because it improves your mood. Or maybe it’s because it improves your sex life. All of those reasons make it easier for you to focus on the other areas of your life and what you want.
When you are in a good mood, getting sleep, and feeling healthy it is easy to re-assess what you want out of life. Maybe you don’t want to make a million dollars. Maybe you just want to learn how to make a grilled cheese sandwich without burning it.
It doesn’t matter how big or little your purpose might be. Taking time to work up a sweat will help you figure out what you want to do with yourself.
8. Stop trying to find a purpose and wait for it to come to you
If you’ve been looking and looking and looking for your purpose and you keep coming up with a blank page of ideas, take some time to stop looking.
Just like love, your purpose shows up when you stop trying to find it.
“GET BUSY DOING THINGS YOU LOVE.”
Get busy trying some of the other things on this list. Sit patiently on the front porch, or on the beach, or somewhere that your mind is clear and watch a sunset or a sunrise. Drink coffee with dolphins in the distance. Listen to street buskers drumming on buckets in the subway.
Enjoy life for the moment. That’s when your purpose is going to pop into your head.
9. Solve a problem that everyone else seems to be avoiding.
Sometimes your purpose is that thing that flabbergasts you. The one you can’t stop wondering about. “If this keeps happening all over the place, why hasn’t someone decided that ‘this’ needs to happen instead?”
That problem that everyone else seems to be avoiding may be your purpose.
You may be holding the key to not only your purpose, but also the next big thing in technology, in society, in real estate, in business, in family counseling, in non-profits. If you have questions that seem to be getting ignored by the world, it may just be that you are the one holding the answers.
And that is your purpose.
10. Rely on your memories
As you are watching that sunset on the beach or from your front porch, think about the times in your life when you were the happiest.
What were you doing? Were you helping someone? Were you making them laugh? Were you drafting up a life-changing document? Were you rescuing a litter of puppies?
It doesn’t matter if the task was small or life-changing. Think about some things that have made you genuinely happy.
Then think about how you can turn it into part of your daily life, or even better, your career.
11. Make the difficult choice to break up
This might be tough to hear but you need to look at your support system. If you already have an idea of what you want to do with yourself and with your life, but are surrounded by people who cannot bring themselves to encourage you to take the leap for one reason or another, you’ve got to break up with those people.
It doesn’t matter if it is a lover, a friend, a sibling, or an employer. If you are not surrounded by people who want the best for you, it will be really difficult for you to go out and do what you feel is best. So you are going to have to do some breaking up to move forward.
“FINDING YOUR PURPOSE ISN’T ALWAYS EASY. IT’S USUALLY NOT. BUT IT’S WORTH FIGHTING FOR.”
Sometimes you have to do the things that scare you most. You have to leave some people behind. You have to leave some jobs behind. You have to do the unthinkable act of putting your needs (or wants) first. And you have to do it at the risk of looking selfish.
And if you are feeling alone and you don’t have anyone in your corner cheering you on, we have a group for that.
Join us in The EDGY Empire of Awesomeness Facebook Group. We love patting people on the back and encouraging those crazy ideas that just might work.
We’re all looking for that purpose together.