Finding purpose in life can be a daunting process, nevertheless it’s a process that will reap substantial benefits. I was recently discussing this very topic with one of my life design coaching clients who is in her late 40s. She was feeling frustrated and discouraged because after all her years of adulthood, she still didn’t feel like her life purpose was clear and yet, at the same time, she expressed desire and hope around gaining clarity and establishing a new path. In my book The Midlife Self-discovery Workbook, I walk readers through layers upon layers of inner evaluation and clarifying to get to what their life purpose is. It’s a journey worth taking.
And today, I’m decidedly going to walk through a specific process I use with my life design coaching clients every week! Coaching clients benefit from these exercises in the beginning of their life design journey before we dive deeper in our work together. I decided to share this on my blog so that you can, in the same way, get started on your own journey, if you like!
You see, your purpose is unquestionably your mission in life and, accordingly, it is what drives you toward honoring your core values and beliefs. If you’ve ever felt lost or aimless, you certainly know how important it is to feel connected to WHY you are here and what your life is about. Knowing you are a significant part of the world and, therefore, your presence and contributions matter is indeed what having purpose is all about.
Benefits of finding your life purpose:
- Your priorities will reflect what really matters to you.
- The quality of your relationships are enriched.
- Decisions will be easily guided by your life purpose.
- You’ll feel CLEAR as to what you are doing and where you are going and why,
- When challenges appear, your life purpose will provide resilience to sustain your mission.
- Daily life will have more FOCUS.
- You’ll have a sense of belonging in the world.
- Less anxiety.
- More HOPE in daily life.
Finding your life purpose boils down to 7 steps:
- Practicing the principle of CHOICE
- Reversing resistance
- Choose how you want to FEEL and what brings you JOY
- Identifying where you are now and where you want to be
- Who and how would you like to help or support?
- Creating your life purpose statement
- Setting up your daily life to align with your life purpose
Let’s dig in!
Practicing the principle of CHOICE
Firstly, you will begin this process of finding your life purpose with some powerful quotes from a few well-known experts and authors about the power of CHOICE:
“The greatest power we have is the power of choice. . . The whole trend and the quality of anyone’s life is determined by the choices that are made”. – Norman Vincent Peale
“In every single thing you do, you are choosing a direction. Your life is a product of choices.” – Dr. Kathleen Hall
“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.” -William James
You may not be able to choose the circumstances you find yourself in that are beyond your control but you always have choice as to how you navigate every situation and scenario. And when you feel powerless and discouraged, you can certainly ask yourself, “What CAN I choose in this moment to shift the way this experience feels and affects me?” With enough practice, eventually you will begin to see and feel the power you have in choosing.
Your mind’s most important activity is that of choosing. When you make a choice, you are DECLARING your intentions and, consequently, your subconscious mind is receiving that declaration. If your subconscious receives this declaration of choice you are making, it will go on a mission seeking opportunities for that choice to show up as reality in your life. Your life goals must be rooted in CHOICES, instead of wishes. As a matter of fact, daily practice of declaring these choices again and again with dedication will pave the way to achieving what you are choosing.
It’s natural to have resistant thoughts and beliefs that may be blocking you, getting in the way of declaring choices in a way that manifests an aligned reality, but at the same time it IS possible to face these blocks and make some active changes.
So what might get in the way of this principle working for you?
- Lack of clarity. Feeling wishy-washy. Being indecisive.
- Beliefs lurking in your subconscious about lack, inability to achieve, or barriers you perceive.
First, let’s identify what old feelings, thoughts and beliefs you carry around that might cause confusion for the subconscious mind about what you are choosing. The choices you make must come from the truth and wisdom of your heart of hearts regardless of how you may be influenced by other people, media or societal norms. Certainly, what is right for someone else may not be right for you. The way to know this is listening to the wise whispers of your heart, especially when you are feeling pulled by the opinions and wants of others. Time in meditation is an excellent place to listen to that inner wisdom and, additionally, I’ll provide a very special free guided meditation to help you get there in the following section of this article.
Here is an exercise for spotting resistance and reversing it:
1.Identify resistant thoughts.
These are some examples that may be floating around in your mind, and altogether getting in your way. Identify them and then write them down on the left hand side of a fresh page of paper. Let it rip! This is the time to bring all your limiting beliefs to the surface rather than allow them to continue lurking in the shadowy corners of your mind.
- I don’t have what it takes.
- My family will disapprove.
- I’d be foolish to start over at this point.
- This interest is just a pipe dream.
- I don’t have the energy.
2. Reverse the resistant thoughts and beliefs.
On the right hand of your paper, across from each thought or belief, write the REVERSE. This exercise will significantly shift those blocking thoughts into your conscious mind so that you can bring about more intentional thinking and believing.
Here is a sample using the above examples:
- I don’t have what it takes. If I need a new skill or resource, I’ll find it!
- My family will disapprove. I have people in my life who love and support me and they will encourage me.
- I’d be foolish to start over at this point. It’s never too late to begin something new! No better time than NOW.
- This interest is just a pipe dream. I can certainly make dreams into reality.
- I don’t have the energy. Generating all the energy I need to follow my heart’s desires comes easily.
This may be an ongoing process, indeed, because as resistant thoughts surely will continue to arise into your awareness, you will need to turn them around and choose the thought you WANT to think rather than those defeating limiting thoughts and beliefs.
Choose how you want to FEEL and what brings you JOY
The next step in this blueprint process is for you to emphatically identify what and how you want to FEEL when you are living your ideal life in line with your life purpose. Here, we are not only talking about feelings but additionally, sensations. Think about how you feel in your body when you are feeling JOY and consequently, you notice you feel light, exuberant, relaxed, energized. Consider how you feel in your body when you are feeling PEACEFUL and, markedly, you will feel relaxed, soft, at ease.
First, take 10 minutes to listen to this short guided meditation to connect in to your inner, truest self and then, come back here and start these exercises.
Get out your favorite pen and a notebook or a journal and begin asking yourself the following questions. Allow your hand to be guided to write down whatever floats up into your awareness.
- Which words describe how you want to feel in your heart, your body and your mind when you are living your life purpose? (e.g. organized, free-flowing, invigorated, quiet, relaxed, at ease, connected, energized, inspired, calm, appreciated, creative, focused).
- What experiences have you had in your life that bring you JOY? It can be anything! Write them down! (e.g. riding my bike downhill, jumping on the trampoline, singing songs with my family while riding in the car, playing softball, cuddling with my puppy, holding hands with my love on the beach, sitting under a shady oak tree feeling the summer breeze, giving a speech at a wedding reception, organizing my pantry)
- Observe some free-flow-journaling about those memories and what about those experiences were so joyful for you. Remember how it felt in your body.
Identifying where you are now and where you want to be
Given that you’re experiencing life regardless of intention, in this exercise you will take an inventory as to the current status of the various areas of your life and then to make a conscious choice as to how you WANT these areas to feel and be. They may remain just as they are by your choice or, on the contrary, you may determine you want and need to make some changes. Write down the following life-areas on the far left side of your page with a couple of lines between each one. Then, create two columns to the right.
Your column headings
- Areas of Life
- Where I am NOW
- Where I want to be
By each life area jot down a few words that describe the current status, and then, in the next column a few words that describes how you’d prefer that area to be and feel for you.
- Family Relationships
- Social Life
Who and how would you like to help or support?
Whatever you may determine is your purpose, chances are your life purpose lived out will touch other people in ways that are helpful and supportive. It’s just natural. For example, if your life purpose is to discover a cure for the common cold, you’ll be helping billions of humans all around the planet with their health. Let’s say that your life purpose is to perform on Broadway, you’ll be supporting people who need to joy and up-lifting. And, what if your life purpose is to be an elementary school teacher? Maybe you’ll be touching the lives of hundreds of children. Identifying who will be positively impacted when you align with and live your life purpose is fuel to motivate and keep you going.
What people, groups, organizations, areas of life would you like to contribute to? (just a few examples)
Children Young adults Food Insecure Gardening/Agriculture
The elderly Adolescents Housing needs The Arts/Creativity
Animals Adults in mid-life. Clean water supply Travel
Plant-life Infants and caregivers Government Journalism/News
Health industry Environmental needs Community planning Science
Corporate People of all ages Clothing/fashion History/Social issues
Identify the gifts you would LOVE to bring into the world (here are some examples to get you started)
generosity patience inspiration encouragement action uplifting compassion
peace creativity entertainment laughter joy connection comfort
Now, what are your talents you might use to deliver your gifts? (these are just examples)
writing speaking teaching drawing painting sculpting listening organizing singing dancing creating directing
comforting nurturing sharing designing empowering leading performing facilitating providing advising counseling
Write in your journal about how you’d like to serve, support, contribute to the group of people or cause you have identified.
Creating your life purpose statement
This step might be one you work with for a while until you get it just right OR it might come together right away.
- choose 2 (or 3) of your gifts you feel most strongly about bringing into the world
- pick 1 or 2 of your talents as your form of delivery for your gifts that you feel most excited for.
- identify 1 or 2 groups of people or animals or other areas of life you want to most serve.
- plug them into the following formula
My life purpose is to bring ________________________ to _____________________ through _______________.
- My life purpose is…
- to bring compassion and comfort to the elderly through counseling and listening.
- (or) to bring inspiration and connection to children through teaching and advising.
HINT: This is a process with endless possibilities! Don’t get bogged down into having to fit into the formula. It’s just a guideline to get you started!
Setting up your daily life to align with your life purpose
The final step in this life purpose discovery journey is to map out your daily path to begin implementing changes and actions. By making these little changes in your daily life, you will subsequently be able to begin living your purpose out each and every day. It might take time, but by becoming substantially more aware and intentional, you will undoubtedly begin to feel the difference about life as a whole. Start to look for opportunities in your community. Look into new avenues, training, chances to network. Use the following prompts in your journal to map out your choices:
- To enact my life purpose, I can make these changes today:________________________.
- I can take these actions this week to begin living my life purpose:__________________________.
- The people who can help and support me make these changes are:__________________________.
- I will adopt these practices to ensure I stay in alignment with my life purpose statement:___________________________.
- The resources I need to support me in living out my life purpose are:_______________________________.
Reflect daily to reinforce
Each morning before you get out of bed, take a few minutes to reflect on your purpose, your joy, your mission and your choices for the day. Additionally, every evening do some journaling before you go to sleep about how the day aligned with your life purpose and if it went off track, what might have gotten in the way? What choices can you make now to adjust for the next day? How might you release, forgive and move forward from?
Want support in working through this process?
If you’d like some some personalized support working through this process, I would LOVE to help you. I offer life design coaching services (distinct and differentiated from counseling services) and I would be so happy to help you discover your life purpose and align with actions to create a life of greater meaning for yourself.
Contact me and let’s meet to have a brief talk about how together we can map out your life purpose and design a life well worth living.