The Ins and Outs of Finding Your Life Purpose

Last week we were talking about what it takes to be what you want to be – but what if you don’t know what that is?

We may often read about those who find their calling in life. Those whose vocation is to help the sick, fight against the extinction of the black rhino or to spread the teachings of the bible.

We see people making great strides in technology and making great contributions to science.

We wonder how they got there and whether we will also get to experience the same joy as they do.

We ask ourselves “why am I here?”

“What is my life purpose?”.

Getting Into It

Have you ever heard that phrase “If you can’t get out of it, get into it”?

The first step to getting to know your purpose is to start with the here and now.

Take a look at this tale of when President Kennedy, in 1962, asked a janitor at NASA what his job was. His answer was simple:

“I’m helping put a man on the moon”.

He knew his job was to keep the building clean but he could see that he was part of something much bigger and took pride in that greater purpose. He had his part to play and was getting into that part. (And kudos to the leadership team there for knowing how to get people motivated).

NASA may be a far cry from your own workplace but never the less, start to find out what your purpose is in your role.

After I left university, I started working full time in the job that I had been doing part-time throughout my studying, whilst looking for a job that suited my aims for the future.

At times I felt frustrated after applying for several jobs and being turned down. In the end, I started looking for opportunities within the business I was already working in, such as taking on more responsibility or working in other departments. The idea was to make the most of what was available to me.

You might be thinking that this positive outlook may have been enhanced by my youthfulness. Maybe. Would it help you to know that I also had a mortgage and bills to pay, plus was saving to get married?

Since then, I’ve had times when I have wanted to leave a previous job due to dissatisfaction with, well, numerous things at different times. It helped me to shift my focus onto the good in the job and the skills I could pick up.

And on the way, it gave me an insight into what I was developing a passion for and what aspects of a job really gave me joy.

The first step to finding your life purpose therefore is to get into the job that you are currently doing.

Find out how you can be more involved in the work that your organisation does or any special projects that might be taking place.

If applicable, look at what the outside world sees on the internet about your organisation. Is there anything that hits a nerve, or piques your interest?

Getting Out Of It

Did you have one of those “career” talks at school? You know, where they ask you what you like to do and what you are good at and then give you a list of all the jobs you could do in the future?

I’m guessing that none of them seemed to say “pick me! I’m your dream job”. There are exceptions of course but if you’re reading this then possibly you don’t fall into that category.

However, you may have very well ended up in one of those jobs. That’s no bad thing as clearly the skills you have picked up are suited to that role.

I was in one of those jobs for 16 years. I gained additional skills, qualifications and promotions. It was a decent public sector job, where there was a possibility that my work could have a positive effect on my local community, and a decent wage.

I’m not going to say money isn’t everything. Money is the reason we go out to work after all, so when a job feels like it isn’t making us feel like we have a purpose, it becomes the only reason to do that job.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to get into it, there’s still a hole. You still feel like you want to have a bigger impact. It’s time to get out of it.

Which brings me to the second step of finding your life purpose.

You see, there is something in that list of likes, and skills. It’s just that things change. Priorities change. You change.

Something that once brought you pleasure may no longer provide that. Even when you try to get into it, it isn’t really your passion.

Your future is not necessarily in your past. Just because you once wanted to travel the world with your job doesn’t mean you still want to do that.

You said you liked working with children so you became a teacher but that may no longer feel like the right way to do it.

You had an aptitude for maths at school but as an accountant, it isn’t giving you the same buzz as solving equations. (Okay, maybe that’s just me).

So if you are ready to take the next step and write the next chapter of your life you need to go back to that same method that the career counsellor advised.

Sit down with a pen and paper and write down all the things you love to do. Then write down all the things you could talk about for hours. Don’t look at it from a viewpoint of what you can’t do or are bad at. Look at the positives and what you can do or could build ability in.

Then look at what part of your current job ticks the list. Did “getting into it” tick any of the items on those lists? Are there any associated jobs that would tick the items on the list? Perhaps there is some community or charity work that would give you access to the life you are looking for.

Remember, life isn’t a straight line. As we reach different stages in our life we learn to value different things. Experiences change our perception and opinion and the life we had planned may seem like someone else’s future.

Perhaps it’s time to write a new plan?

Do you feel like you have found your life purpose? How are you going to be getting into it – or will you be getting out of it?
Share your thoughts below.

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Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.

Best wishes,

PS. Have you taken part in the poll yet? Find it in the sidebar or below this post.

I’d love to hear your story, so start a conversation on Facebook, catch up with me on Twitter and Instagram, or drop me an email via the contacts page.

Ear Worm: Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield

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