In this article, you’ll discover why finding your purpose matters and how you can start now. You’ll find more details about this topic in the book “Master the Art of Life“.
Whose standard is your life based on?
Is your schedule filled with activities that take up your time and leave you feeling unfulfilled and exhausted? Do you go through the motions of heading for work and going back home every day, without really believing in what you do or knowing the reason why?
You’re not alone. Many people experience these, so much so that it has been accepted as the status quo.
Since you were young, you went to school and were told what was important to learn and how to score the marks. Maybe, you did work that you struggle to understand, that didn’t seem meaningful to you, and were ranked according to academic standards.
You followed the conventional way of living – joining the rat race so that you don’t ‘lose out’, comparing yourself with peers to assess how you are doing.
In living a life based on others’ standards, you let go of the ability to make decisions for your needs deep within you. You take a backseat and relinquish the responsibility to be the driver for your own life.
What matters to you?
I remember a conversation with an acquaintance who had gripes about her job and how it was utterly boring. I asked her, “So what do you like to do?” and was greeted with an incredulous stare.
Her response made me realise that so many people see their work as mutually exclusive with what matters to them. Are you not doing yourself an injustice and condemning your life to misery if you choose to do work you don’t believe in?
Work makes up about 80% of our waking hours. Why invest such a huge part of your life doing something you find meaningless, or that saps your energy?
Maybe you don’t know what matters to you. You don’t know what your dream is, what your purpose in life is or what your passions are. You don’t know what you want.
And that is perfectly understandable if you have been living your whole life simply fulfilling the expectations of others.
You are capable of more than you know, and you have the choice to decide to improve your life.
You can make decisions or take actions to find meaning in the things you do.
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.”
Your passion and your purpose
You may have heard people talking about ‘finding your passion’ and ‘knowing your purpose in life’. What does it mean and how do you do it?
First, you have to dig deep into yourself. Look within and mute the demands and expectations of people around you for a moment. Imagine stepping out of your socially acceptable, comfortable, and conforming professional identity. Think about your passions, your values, and your strengths.
As mentioned in Master the Art of Life, a passion is something you enjoy doing and you can do forever.
Discovering your passions and allowing them to flourish unlocks a flow of energy and enthusiasm within that gives you a huge sense of satisfaction. Setbacks do not deter you because you possess vast amounts of intrinsic motivation to persist and find solutions in doing what you love.
Step out and experience
Knowing what you dislike is as important as knowing what you like. Perhaps the perfectionist in you struggles with the possibility that you are making a mistake in taking the plunge to discover yourself.
- I’ve spent my whole life building up a career in this area. If I choose a different path, I’d have wasted all these time.
- What if I find out that this new passion of mine is not something I really enjoy? It isn’t worth the effort to try.
- What will people think of me? This isn’t what people tend to do.
These thoughts are normal; you may experience them because you’re considering letting go of an identity you’ve held for years, a safe place from which you’ve existed day by day.
The fact of the matter is, you’ll never know what you want until you decide to step out and experience as many different things as possible. Take time to try different activities and connect with people. Be patient with yourself.
Accept that you may not like some things you try. The time you took to make that realization is well-invested because then you would have come to a newer stage of self-awareness. You now have a better idea of what you enjoy and what you don’t, so you don’t have to waste time doing what you don’t enjoy. Isn’t that awesome?
So, what is your purpose in life?
Ask yourself these questions to uncover your passions and your purpose in life. Take time to think through them, and be truthful to yourself. Answer in terms of what makes YOU tick, not what you think others will approve of you doing:
- When have you felt the most alive?
- What do you enjoy doing? What makes you excited?
- What gets you so absorbed that you lose track of time when doing it?
- What intrigued you as a child?
- What issues are you most agitated about?
- If you could do anything in the world without worrying about money or success, what would it be?
It is the experimenting of different pursuits, seeing what works for you and ignites a fire within you.
Don’t worry about finding the ‘wrong’ passion – there is no right or wrong path, there are only options.
“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.”
– Hardy D. Jackson