“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. 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.”– “Finding your purpose” blog post
Finding the Patterns
When I did this little experiment with myself, I found a pattern in what memories popped into my focus first. It helps if you have a blank sheet of white paper in front of you and sketch a web diagram of all the thoughts and try to group them into categories. A few of mine were; the outdoors, friends, family, tinkering, exploring.
I mentioned the floating popsicle stick boats in the puddles along the sidewalk above. This is actually one I used- often times I would sit at the dinner table, about 7-10 years old, with a big blue box of wooden popsicle sticks from the craft store and some white Elmer’s glue and just build things. Boats, Chinese throwing stars, wood cabins. Anything. A few times I remember bringing a few boats down to the ravine to float and see which might be faster, or which one would make it though the shallow section of water.
This “crafting” section was a main portion of my web diagram. I noticed I have a lot of good memories building things, taking things apart, helping my dad with something on an old car or tractor.
Another common theme I saw in my memories was outdoor exploration. Our family had moved to Richmond, VA one year with my dad’s job transfer. We lived in a fairly basic white house on a hill and had a nice big yard. It was a semi-rural area where people commuted to the city to work. We had dense green forests all around the neighborhood with creeks and vines hanging from trees. Every day after school a friend and I would meet up on our bikes and ride overgrown pathways through the trees and spend many hours out there in the woods just being kids.
This exercise is more about the process of documenting thoughts that come to mind than anything else. Once you have them written down, you need to analyze what you see. You should be able to pick out common themes that intertwine all these memories together.
Write down the common themes in bullet form.
1. theme 1 ( in my case crafts)
2. theme 2 (exploring outdoors)
3. theme 3 – ect…
These themes listed out are very important. They are your guide rails. Think of them like the bumpers on a bowling lane, keeping the ball from falling off into the gutter. They will keep you on the right path should you start to wander off course in your self purpose discovery journey.
As you progress in your self-discovery journey, you will notice that many of the tasks don’t give you an easy answer to the question; “What is my purpose in life?” The truth is, this is a very difficult question to answer, and no one can answer it but you.
The unraveling old memories challenge laid out in the above paragraphs is only there to bring awareness to what is already inside of you. It helps you see your subconscious joys and passions, which are often difficult to uncover. Living your purpose is a giant undertaking, but this should help you find your why, and get you headed in the right direction.
If you need a little more help finding your purpose in life, have a look at this blog post on what else you can do.