Living Well: What to Do When You Don't Yet Know Your Purpose
When people bring up the subject of life purpose, there tends to be three types of people: the I totally know what my purpose is and I’m loving it people, the I don’t really think or care much about purpose or all that hoo-ha people, and the I really, really want to know what my purpose is but I haven’t the foggiest clue people.
If you fall into the third category, there is no need to fear! Finding your purpose does not require much effort on your part. More often than not, purpose is revealed to people who are open, willing, and able. So rather than be seeking, stressing, and wishing for that wonderful "a-ha moment," just relax and give yourself some credit for getting this far. Many people never even stop to consider that they might have a purpose, or they lack the guts to go after it even if they do know what they are meant to do.
Now that we’ve put the worries on hold, I am happy to say that there are three things that you can do right this very moment to help you start to discover your own unique purpose in life.
1. Read books.
One of the best places to start when it comes to purpose is reading good, helpful books. Two of my personal favorites are The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (it’s pretty dense, so feel free to focus on the second habit most of all) and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (a much simpler, poetic depiction of purpose).
Or, if you have an industry in mind that might be linked to your purpose, reading biographies of successful people in that field could give you a glimpse into what that world is like. Their challenges and triumphs will also help you keep in mind that even if you know your purpose, all will not be rosy on the journey. Even purpose-filled lives and careers are filled with unexpected hardships, twists, turns, highs, and lows.
Overall, the books you read right now can help you reflect on your life and create a vision for what you truly want. More often than not by taking time to reflect on your life vision, your purpose could be found lurking beneath those same intentions and goals.
2. Happily help other people.
When it comes to life purposes, there seems to be a common theme. The one thing that almost all purposes share is the desire to help other people. So, why not think about what you genuinely love to do that also helps other people? It doesn’t have to be your exact purpose, but by taking the focus off of yourself and investing it in service, you might just find that those actions lead you to your specific purpose in some unforeseen way.
Consider volunteering, doing free consulting, or writing a blog to help other people with something that you love. After all, if something you try ends up hitting a chord within yourself and others, you might just find people asking to hire you. Or maybe you make that one great connection that lands you a position somewhere that you find deeply fulfilling.
3. Discover your strengths.
If you’d like to get a bit more specific to what your unique contribution to the world could be, consider asking your friends and family about your unique talents. It’s very easy for us to discredit our own gifts because we don’t value what comes easiest to us. But the people we know and love can often clearly see what we do effortlessly which could be of value for others.
Also, feel free to take surveys and introspection assessments that help probe into your strengths. My favorite tool for comes with the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths by Malcolm Gladwell. With every book comes a unique key code that allows you to take a truly in-depth Strengths Assessment that can bring very interesting talents and traits to light. For example, once I recognized my talents are helping others figure out what they are good at (they call this Individualization), Positivity, Connectedness, and more, it was easy for me to see why I was uniquely made to help people design lives with intention.
By studying your own strengths, you can first learn how to hone them in your current life roles, and even transition into a career or purpose that strikes to the core of what you are meant to do. Because more often than not, what we discover be our purpose often is not "jewelry making" or "teaching second grade math" or even "being a nurse." Usually the core of any purpose has to do with sharing love and helping other people improve their lives in some meaningful method that we are uniquely capable of through our talents and practice.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This post was contributed by Jess Constable, an accessories designer in Chicago and owner of Jess LC. When she's not designing, you can find her blogging about designing a life with intention at Makeunder My Life.