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Do you feel like you’re drifting through life without any higher purpose or direction? How do you find meaning and purpose in a Universe that’s meaningless by design?
Finding your purpose is crucial to living a fulfilled and meaningful life. If you have no purpose in life, you’ll feel empty, confused, and directionless, which can give rise to a host of psychological problems such as depression, addiction, and sensation-seeking, to name a few.
Here’s why you need a sense of purpose and how you can find yours.
The Importance of Purpose
If you have no purpose in life, you’re wasting your potential and settling for mediocrity. Mediocrity is the norm because most people—95%—don’t succeed. They settle for the life they have and live with regret, without realizing they have the ability to be who they want to be, do what they want to do, and have whatever they want. To break this cycle, you must reject mediocrity and commit to developing into the person capable of creating the life of your dreams.
To escape mediocrity, you need to have a purpose. A life purpose can be anything that’s meaningful to you, that inspires you and directs your daily actions and priorities. It isn’t something you “discover”—you decide what your purpose will be.
TITLE: The Miracle Morning
AUTHOR: Hal Elrod
The 3 Elements of Purpose
Now that you understand the importance of having purpose for your life, let’s discuss what defining your purpose entails in practice. In his book Find Your Why, Simon Sinek offers a helpful framework for conceptualizing your purpose, which he calls the “Golden Circle.” Sinek’s Golden Circle consists of three elements:
1. The inner circle is the Why: the purpose that orients everything you do. It’s the core belief that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. For example, your Why might be to create spaces for learning.
2. The middle circle is the How: the methods and practices that characterize you and which other people consider your strengths. Individuals can have multiple “Hows” because they are practical, operational knowledge that brings the Why to life. For example, your How might be to forge meaningful connections.
3. The outer circle is the What: the outputs you generate. It’s the tangible part of your life and the easiest to identify. For example, your What might be your family, job, and projects.
TITLE: Find Your Why
AUTHOR: Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker
How to Identify and Fulfill Your Purpose
In his book Unbeatable Mind, Mark Divine explains what to do if you feel like you have no purpose in life: Ask yourself how you can pursue your passions, how you can embody the traits you feel are important to your character, and what you exist to do.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can focus on the steps you need to take to fulfill your purpose: building emotional strength, building mental strength, and establishing and following through on goals.
If you build emotional strength, you can weather the emotional storms that come with every challenge you face, keeping strong in the face of adversity and using challenges to help you grow and fulfill your purpose. Use your purpose to guide your actions and motivate you during difficult times.
To build emotional strength, Divine writes that you must:
- Cultivate high self-esteem so you feel respected by others. High self-esteem will help you bounce back from negative experiences and avoid internalizing them.
- Build up your self-control so you don’t react emotionally in the moment and inadvertently make the situation worse.
- Take on a positive mindset so you can view setbacks as opportunities.
- Orient yourself toward helping others. Tending to others will help you find meaning in your struggles.
Divine also writes that the biggest roadblock to achieving emotional strength is the negative emotions that result from hardships you face. However, when you encounter one of these negative emotions, you can build emotional strength by processing them effectively.
When a negative emotion strikes, acknowledge the emotion without letting it convince you that there’s something wrong with you. Then dig deeper: Find what is underlying that emotion, and then change that emotion into its corresponding positive emotion (such as turning envy into compassion, or turning anxiety into self-assuredness).
Mental strength gives you the ability to power through obstacles that stand in the way of fulfilling your purpose. Divine’s advice on building mental strength focuses on managing stress. Mental strength can help you process stress in a productive way to keep you moving on your path to your purpose.
Divine offers a method for managing stress productively, similar to the process for managing negative emotions. First, acknowledge the stressor and the effect it’s having on you, and remember that experiencing this stress doesn’t make you a worse person. Then, intercept the effects of the stressor, reframing it to have a positive impact on your mind and body. Through this process, you’re training your mind to overcome the brain’s stress response and act in the moment to work through your crisis calmly.
Proper goal-setting is another important step in finding and fulfilling your purpose. Divine recommends the following techniques to guide you in setting proper goals:
The first tip he gives is the acronym KISS, which you may recognize as “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Set a goal that’s small, or that can be broken down into smaller steps to increase your chances of success.
Set Appropriate Goals
Divine recommends that you choose goals that are appropriate for you. Set goals for yourself that are in line with your purpose, highly motivating, and within your means to complete. If you don’t have all the skills or resources needed to achieve your goal, figure out what you would need to gain to achieve it.
Once you’ve established your goal and stated it clearly, visualize yourself achieving the goal in order to see it become a reality. This can involve either imagining a future where your goal has been achieved or mentally walking through the process of achieving your goal.
|The Purpose of Your Purpose
Many authors have written about the importance of finding your purpose in life and using it to guide your actions and thoughts.
For example, in The Success Principles, Jack Canfield echoes Divine’s sentiment that your purpose is essential to your success and happiness. To find your purpose, he recommends reflecting on what makes you happy, noticing your interests and skills, and envisioning what you want the world to be like. He also recommends meditation and a few questionnaires to help you pinpoint your goals.
Likewise, in Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi agrees that your purpose is vital in achieving happiness, and he suggests that finding your purpose requires you to alternate your focus between yourself and your community. He also distinguishes between different kinds of purposes, including purposes that you take on willingly and feel internally motivated to pursue versus purposes that you follow because others expect you to do so.
Similarly, in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma adds to the idea that your purpose will guide you through life and says that your purpose should involve helping others in some way.
If you have no purpose in life, you’ll end up drifting aimlessly without feeling as though you’re achieving anything worthwhile or meaningful. But when you know your life’s purpose and direction, you can tailor your actions to support that purpose. When your actions align with your purpose, you feel satisfied.
If you enjoyed our article about finding your purpose, check out the following suggestions for further reading:
Elizabeth Gilbert’s life imploded after she filed for divorce from her husband when she was 30 years old. She was still reeling from their contentious separation when she fell in love with someone else. But when this love ended, she fell into a deep depression. She felt as though she had no purpose in life, so she decided to embark on a year-long journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia to find pleasure, a higher purpose, and harmony in her soul. Eat Pray Love depicts Gilbert’s journey of survival and transformation. It is the story of her learning to move out of the darkness and into the light.
The Seat of the Soul is Gary Zukav’s best-selling exploration into the soul’s purpose and how to align your life with it by developing your intuition and tapping into your heart’s knowledge.
Zukav argues that humans are primarily spiritual beings living in the material world. Our souls have incarnated in order to learn lessons and fulfill a mission, and ultimately to evolve. Therefore, Zukav says, our true life’s purpose is to become fully aligned with our souls in order to help them evolve. However, many people feel as though they have no purpose in life, which causes them much sorrow, confusion, and unnecessary suffering. Zukav says we need to tune into our souls and to messages from the universe and our spirit guides, so we can fulfill our soul’s purpose and aid in its evolution.
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