I was working through through some of the anonymous questions submitted by readers for the next Q&A blog post when I came across a question about finding your life purpose.
This is a topic that has come up a lot in my personal life, and I’ve had many conversations about this with loved ones. Recently too! It’s a critical question to many and I felt it deserved a blog post of its own.
I would like to live a fulfilling life, as defined by me. The trouble is…I’m not sure what exactly it is I find fulfilling. I find my ideas on what fulfilling is to be fleeting. How can you know for sure what it is you want to invest your potential in/are supposed to be doing with your life. Thank you
The concept of a “life purpose” carries a lot of needless spiritual weight.
I don’t subscribe to the belief that we wake up in the morning with the booming voice of God telling us what our purpose is in life and then we go out into the world and receive great fame and recognition for it.
This is often what the quest for “finding your life purpose” feels like for people, and for the many of us who do not hear that booming voice, we can be left feeling like we’re missing something.
Do yourself a favour and don’t make finding your life purpose into your cosmic mission of reconnecting with a fundamental part of yourself that you cannot seem to find.
It’s simply a question of – how do you want to spend your time here?
Start with self-discovery
You cannot know what you want to do in this world until you know who you are.
Once you catch a glimmer of something that matters to you, take a small step in that direction. With every step you take, more of who you are will become revealed to you, and then the next step will be illuminated.
It’s a process.
Begin with self exploration. What matters to you? What breaks your heart? What feels important in life and in the world? What isn’t working that needs to be fixed? What problems can you solve? What brings you great joy? What gets you in a state of flow? What makes you lose track of time? What did you enjoy doing as a child? How do you measure success? What aspects of your hobbies bring you the most satisfaction?
These are the kind of questions you can easily access with a quick google search. So I won’t spend too much time on it. I want to talk about the answers to the questions that are hard to find.
Here is what I do believe about finding your purpose:
Every single person in this world has a certain way of being and doing in this world that feels fulfilling for them
That way of being is a state. It is how you hold yourself, the grace of which you meet this moment. It’s your internal reactions- do you create magic or do you create explosions. It’s how tangled up you are, or how free and open. Managing your state of being is an essential part of connecting to the flow of your life and to your purpose.
A way of doing in this world is the action you take in life. For some it might be performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. For another it might be carving a piece of wood until it becomes something different.
You don’t need to see it, but you do need to feel it
A while ago, during a conversation to my husband about his work in this world, I shared with him a vision I had for his life (*Ha, I tend to have these from time to time).
The vision resonated and he felt that, yes, absolutely, if it manifested, that would feel like a dream, it would feel like what is important and true for him.
But it was so grand. So bright. So far away. So impossible. So unachievable.
“I love the idea of it, but I just can’t see it happening.” He said.
I smiled at him and said “You don’t have to see it, but you do have to feel it.”
Our line of sight is limited. It’s hard to for us to envision the fullest potential of something. So you don’t need to be able to see it, and you don’t need to decide if it is possible or not.
It’s not up to you. That’s up to life.
What is up to you is what you do right now. What is up to you is to decide if a particular direction feels good and true to you. and if it does, move courageously in that direction.
The problem I have with ambition
Suppose you have done A, B and C in your life.
D is the natural next step.
If you are an ambitious person, you may aim for E or F, because you can see it requires a jump from where you are to get there.
But what about X, Y and Z? They exist too, but they are so far away, that they don’t even make a blip on your radar.
We cannot even imagine what X Y or Z would look like so how could you ever intentionally aim for it?
It takes more than a jump to get there.
It a leap of faith into the unknown.
So don’t be limited by your ambition.
Because your ambition is based on past events of what you think is possible for you.
What “makes sense”
But your full potential, might not make sense to you right now. And it probably won’t make sense to the people around you.
So if you want to do the impossible, don’t worry about where you are going to end up.
You just have to be ready to jump.
Suggestions for the seeker
And now for you, to the person who asked this question. Here are some of my suggestions for you:
- Immerse yourself in the opportunities your life is presenting you right now, personally, professionally, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. The only way to get more opportunities in life is use the ones you have. And choose to see every single thing that happens to you as an opportunity.
- Self reflect: ask yourself questions to find out what matters to you.
- Reflect on your mortality. Thinking about death brings to the surface the things that are important.
- Dedicate yourself to a meditation/kriya practice to help clear the clutter. The sun will rise from within you. Slowly, everything will get brighter. Your vision will become clearer.
- A simple life is a beautiful life. I already touched on the concept that you can have an equally fulfilling life in a number of different ways in this post. Do the “simple” and “unimportant” things in your day and life beautifully, and welcome grace into your life.
- Thing about your way of being in this world as much as you think of your way of doing.
- You said that your idea of what is fulfilling is fleeting – this means you are able to identify various things you feel is important, but nothing that is sustained for a long period of time. If you want to move in one direction, you have to sustain that action for some period of time, otherwise you will be walking around in wonderful circles. If you don’t mind doing that – then that’s fine! Live your life how you want to live it. But you want to get somewhere, we need to try to move in one direction. Give yourself a challenge and pick 1 thing you want to focus on for the next 6 months.
- Do the things your future self would do. Over time, these actions will change your body and your thoughts.
- Over time your thoughts will change your feelings.
- Over time your feelings will change your energy.
- A sustained meditation practice will also help unify your energies.
- Once everything is aligned and pointed in one direction – you will create tremendous impact.
- Remember that there is no pre-prescribed singular way to live a fulfilling life. There are thousands of ways to live a fulfilling life. It is only what you decide.
Here are some self-discovery tools that were very valuable for me in determining the work I want to do in this world – both self and external.
John Demartini’s Values Determination
A few simple questions to determine what you truly value in your life.
This exercise is useful because it shows you what you actively value versus what you may think you value.
For example you may say you value charity, but have not created any time or space in your life for charity.
If charity is one of your highest values, you won’t wait till you are rich to be charitable. It is ingrained in you, and you will do it even when you are dirt poor. You will find a way to be charitable. With your energy, your time, your resources.
It may also show you what you value that you didn’t realize you actually valued.
Ultimately, it gives you an opportunity to evaluate what you create space for in your life – and you can decide whether you want that to change or not. You are encouraged to repeat this exercise every few months, so you can make changes and design the life around the values you want.
I’m a sucker for a good personality test. This is by far my favourite framework so far.
Blog posts I’ve written on similar topics:
Your life’s work; a discourse on dharma
What is your dharma and why can’t you find it?
I hope this helps. Thank you for your question!
Self Reflection Prompts
- What is your way of being in this world that feels fulfilling?
- What is your way of doing in this world that feels fulfilling?
- What are you values and what are actions you take that implement them into your life?
- What is your enneagram personality type? What are your strengths and what are your limitations?
- What is the next right step?
- List all the opportunities you have in your life right now