Step 4: Find Your Life Purpose

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You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle… – Steve Jobs

Do we have a purpose in life? Are we here on earth for a reason or do we have to find our own purpose in life? Honestly, I don’t really.

The article is the fourth of the following personal development plan series:

So do we have a purpose? Whatever may be the answer, I believe that having a life purpose gives us direction in life and inspires us to do great things while bringing us higher levels of fulfillment at the same time.

In the step 3 of this personal development plan we talked about core values. Identifying your core values will help you find your life purpose as you will be able to better understand what is really inspiring, what really matters to you. It is hard to find your life purpose if you don’t know your core values.

Do I Really Need A Purpose In Life?

Having a clear purpose in life gives you directions and enables you to better focus your energy on a long-term goal that is inspiring you. Focus is the key element to success and without knowing what you want you just can’t focus.

Having a lifetime goal that is based on your deepest values is what will make it possible for you to persevere and to keep going when things are getting tough. As Jim Rohn used to say: when the why is stronger, the how gets easier. It will also allow you to design worthy goals that revolve around that purpose.

How Specific Should Be Your Life Purpose?

Your life purpose doesn’t have to be extremely specific to be valuable. Your life purpose is rather here to give you directions and make it easier for you to make choices in life. You may in fact derive a lot of different goals from your life purpose.

Sometimes, people who really love their job become depressed after they retire or when they happen to lose their job. They suddenly lose their sense of purpose and direction in life. However, if they had a bigger life purpose that goes way beyond the scope of their job in the first place, they would have been able to find another way to express it and would have maintained a strong sense of purpose in their life.

For instance my life purpose is:

“Improving myself every day, living up to my full potential, and helping others realize theirs so that they can live happier, more fulfilling lives.”

It may sound very general to you but it totally resonates with me. It goes beyond the scope of any job. The current way for me to express it would be to have a successful personal development blog, to write books and to coach people to help them improve their lives. Let’s assume now that none of these activities actually work out for me. Then, what would I do? I would find another way to express my life purpose. I could become a teacher of some sort or maybe a counselor and could probably come up with many other possibilities.

The Characteristics Of A Great Life Purpose

I got most of the following points from  the life coach and blogger Celestine Chua’s free e-book Meaning of Life: How To Discover Your Life Purpose (You can get it here). I think they are great points to consider when looking for our life purpose.

A great life purpose should be:

  1. Timeless: If you could use a time travel machine and go back in time or travel to the future, your life purpose would remain the same.
  2. Universal: If you were born in a different part of the world your purpose would still be the same.
  3. Inspiring: Your life purpose should be truly inspiring and allow you to unleash your full potential and experience a real sense of fulfillment. When your purpose resonates within you, what you’re doing doesn’t feel like work.
  4. Transcendent: Your life purpose should allow you to transcend your ego. Most of us work to make a living, to gain recognition, or to feel accepted by the society. A genuine life purpose should come from a place of love, not fear. When you have a clear life purpose, you no longer act out of fear. Although we may not be able to eliminate our egos, we should aim to control it and act from a place of love as much as possible.

Let’s look at my current life purpose now to see if it fits the characteristics mentioned above.

1. Is it timeless? Yes. If I were born one thousand year ago it would still work.

2. Is it universal? Yes. If I were born in a different country it wouldn’t change.

3. Is it inspiring? Yes. For me it is inspiring.

4. Is it transcendent? Yes. At least, I’m trying to act ouf of love, but I should mention that my ego definitely gets in the way in many occasions.

Finding Your Life Purpose Through Your Challenges In life

Sometimes, your greatest difficulties in life can give you strong meanings. Overcoming your challenges and helping other to do the same might very well become your life purpose.

For example, you may have been abused when you were young and decide to spend your life helping others people in the same situation. By doing so, you transform your difficulties into powerful forces for change. You refuse to be seen as a victim and empower yourself and other people.

These kinds of goals fit well the characteristics of a great life purpose. Generally speaking, helping other people overcoming difficulties is universal, timeless, inspiring and transcendent.

What are your biggest challenges in life? Can you leverage them to give you meaning? Can you use them to help others better their life?

What Is It That You Can’t Help To Do?

One more question you can ask yourself is: “what is it that I’m always drawn to? What is it that I can’t help from doing?

Personally, I’m naturally drawn to study. I spend considerable amount of time reading books, but it is also true that I have a terrible memory and have a very hard time remembering what I’m reading. A few years ago, I became so frustraed that I thought about stopping reading books and studying altogether.

However, my desire to study, to learn and to grow was so strong that I actually ended up studying even more. For me, it seems like I cannot escape from studying. I cannot not study.

Looking at what you are constantly drawn to might give you some indications about what may be your calling. You might call it destiny if you like.

Stop Making Finding Your Life Purpose A Big Deal

You may be trying hard to find your life purpose. However, your life purpose doesn’t have to be something extraordinary. Simple things like being a great parent or the great teacher you can possible be may very well constitute inspiring life purposes. It doesn’t really matter if you inspire one person or one million people. If your intend is pure and if it gives you a clear meaning and sense of fulfilment in life, then where is the problem? Whatever it may be, if it is exciting you and giving you intense drive why not follow this calling?

To Go Further

To go further you might want to read Steve Pavlina’s popular series of articles on life purpose here

One final question to help you find your life purpose:

“What would I do if I had all the money and time in the world?”

I hope this article was useful to you and gave you some insights on what your life purpose may be. Leave me a comment below and share with me your life purpose. I would love to know what it is.


 

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The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

Comments 2

  • Great article Thibaut. I agree with what you said. We may or may not be born with a specific life purpose – it’s hard to tell. However, what is indisputable is that by creating a life purpose for yourself, your life will have so much more focus. Just make sure you create one that inspires you.

  • Thanks 🙂 Yes, there is nothing to lose by having a life purpose. Having a life purpose allows us to go through life with more focus and to stop making a big deal of the challenges we encounter during our journey.

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