What’s my purpose?
Well if you knew, you wouldn’t be here right? Don’t worry you’re not alone. I’m a little embarrassed to say I don’t know my exact purpose in life either. Only a small percentage of the population has a clear defined path in life. They know what they want to study, what school they want to attend, which place they are going to live in and what career will make them happy.
I am not one of those people and I definitely don’t have that all mapped out.
Purpose is more than a single word. Purpose has an aura, it has a feeling, a vibe, many layers deep. It can’t be defined based on a single action or feeling. So lets try and break down some practical steps to finding it, that have helped me with my own discovery.
What are ways to find my purpose?
The most valuable thing in my life
Step one is tracking down what you value most in life. It doesn’t have to be a single item- It can be a top 5 list.
Find a quiet spot. I prefer the kitchen table at 5:30 in the morning, but a library, long bus ride, or walk outside can also work for this.
With your phone and all other distractions set aside, think about your childhood.
Tip: try and focus on the good memories.
Think about your neighborhood friends. Think about the food in the school cafeteria that was your favorite. Think about small trips to the market you would make with your mom. Think about the times you would visit your grandparents for the weekend, and how they would let you stay up a little later and eat popcorn. Think about the time you built a popsicle stick boat and sailed it in the melting snow streams on the road.
Now it helps to jot these down on a note pad, but I can say there is a reason these memories floated to the top. The tricky part is figuring out why.
The next step is to unravel those old memories and what their connection is with our subconscious thoughts.
Why setting goals is important
Setting a clear list of goals and target points for yourself is key in figuring this out. They could be career related goals, or pertaining to hobbies and personal health. Don’t over whelm yourself with a long list of goals you won’t be able to get done. The goals should come to you easily, and the best goals are solutions to the problems in your life that you think about often.
For example, every morning when I leave the house on my way to work, I open the garage door and see an unfinished 1968 Jeepster Commando. It sits there looking sad every day. The truth is that I make excuses to myself about why I don’t have the time to work on it. I catch myself day dreaming about this jeep. Driving around on a warm summer day with the top down. Washing it off at the car wash to see the butternut yellow paint slightly shine in the sun. And then heading down the road, with my dog Lola on the passenger seat cruising to get ice cream. Its a very vivid dream. I see color and feel the emotions of this day with my dog and the Jeepster.
Then I snap back to reality and see the current state of the project and the feeling of reality hits me. I quickly make an excuse to myself as to why the project has not progressed; something about not having time right now to justify the problem and carry on with my day- I trying to forget about the ice cream and dogs ears flapping in the wind with the top down.
Personal goals are great because they boost confidence and can create momentum. This is why starting with two attainable goals is important. Here’s an article I wrote all about choosing goals and breaking them down into tasks that easy.
Finding clarity through direction
Early on in the, what I call – ” self discovery” journey of finding purpose, things won’t seem clear to you. The point of this is getting started. Moving in some direction, and discovering things about yourself that you knew already, but figuring out the why.
My life was basically a random set of events until I decided to make a change. I can clearly remember a time in my early 20s. I was working at a structural tank fabrication shop building catwalks, stair treads and railings. I was waking up in the morning exhausted and rushing to work so I could punch my time card for 7:00AM, but as fate would have it, I would miss it by 1 minute most days. 7:01AM. The foreman would pull me into his office and I would get a “talk” and docked 30 minutes off my pay. This sort of scenario happened countless times between the age of 17-25. I got to the point where I was so frustrated with the state of my life, and I remember thinking there has to be a better way. I felt like I never had time for anything and I was always rushing with no time for myself. There was a day somewhere in that tank fabrication shop where I made a decision. Every action I take, and decision I make from this point forward is going to be one that moves me in the direction of never having to look at the clock on the wall again. I was not going to be bound by the rules of time. Once I had that clear direction, I knew it was time to make a game plan.
I’m going to be dead honest with you about this. If you aren’t consistent with your goals and this process, your time will never come. You will never unlock your true potential. An you wont find your purpose in this life.
Many people are too comfortable in their ways. Too stuck in the routine of day to day. Mundane and complacent. Unwilling to sacrifice vices and take risks to move ahead.
This is your life. If you can’t dedicate the time this process requires of you, then don’t even start.
Being comfortable, being uncomfortable
At the beginning of this whole journey I told myself. If none of this ever works out and this all goes to hell, then I can always go back and find a job pumping gas or stocking shelves and things will be okay.
That attitude of thinking I can go back to “normal” at any point along the way gave me some comfort at the beginning.
None of the chances and risks you will face in this lifetime could be scarier than laying in your deathbed, thinking about all those things you never tried because the “timing was wrong” or weren’t sure if it was the right idea.