Some mornings, you may feel that there’s something deeper you could be a part of. You feel the pull towards something but you can’t exactly pin it down—it eludes you and frustrates you.
You might have heard stories from writers or musicians who have felt their calling their entire lives; the Mozarts of the world who have pursued their passions from the moment they were out of the womb. Deep down you wish you had this “knowing” to pull you forward.
Frankly, you do: all it takes is a little digging to uncover the truth. Think of uncovering your passion like the work of a master sculptor, slowly chipping away the stone to reveal the masterpiece underneath. Your life’s purpose is this masterpiece, simply lurking beneath the surface waiting to be released.
The fastest way to uncovering your life’s purpose is through the art of introspection: diving into the deeper essences of who you are to pull out the pieces to assemble the purpose puzzle. Think of your life’s purpose as a golden thread; for some, that thread comes in the form of a certain career or profession, while for others it looks like a way of being or expression.
Let’s use the analogy of an epic quest across the ocean to take you on your journey of uncovering your purpose.
Why you want this in the first place
Ultimately you’re trying to improve your life. You want more zest, more flavor, more fullness. In the strictest sense you want to become a better person. You want to wake up in the morning excited, jumping out of bed with a thirst for life that you haven’t felt since you were a child.
Your purpose can be the driving force of this. Your purpose can be your connection to something larger, something that will allow you to make your mark on the world, to truly make a difference. Still, your WHY might be different. Before we even leave solid ground you need this as your anchor, just in case things get a little foggy. To find it just answer this question:
Why do you want to find your purpose in life?
Write down or remember whatever comes up. It might be some of the above reasons or it might be something entirely different. Whatever it is cherish it, nothing is too far left field.
The tools for your journey
Before any great adventure, you want to make sure your tools and supplies are in working order. For this quest the tools are simple: You’ll need a pen and piece of paper, a working memory, and the drive to uncover what you set out to find. That’s it—you’re ready to set off. Before we go, there are a few things you’ll need to embrace beforehand. Think of these items as the underlying code of conduct for your journey.
1. I welcome the hard work and tiresome effort it will take to unearth my life’s great work.
2. I know my purpose might not be directly obvious, but I will put in the time to find it.
3. I believe finding my purpose is entirely possible.
4. I know that finding my life’s purpose may lead to some drastic (positive) changes.
5. I know that finding my life’s purpose will leave me with the power to shape my own destiny.
Once you’ve let the above affirmations settle, you’re ready to free your ship from the dock and set sail. Your tools are sharpened and your mind is prepped: congratulations! You’ve come farther than most people ever do.
Slaying the inner dragons
When you first set sail into uncharted waters there will be an initial resistance; a pervading fear, a fear of the unknown. If you feel this, great: you’re human.
The first dragon you might face will likely be your internal beliefs. They might try to stop you in your tracks, or tell you you’re crazy for trying to find your purpose in the first place. They might say harsh things like “you don’t deserve to have a purpose”, or “you’ll never find what you’re looking for”. What you have to know is that this inner dialogue isn’t true—it’s more afraid than you are. Its main goal is to keep you comfortable.
To combat your inner dialogue you have to first realize it’s happening. When you start to actually pay attention to the thoughts as they’re spiralling then they lose their power. They get their evil force by operating below the scenes, so when you shine a spotlight of awareness upon them they lose their control over you.
Once you’re familiar with these inner dragons it will be easier to slay them.
Next, you have to swing your sword of action. The best way to stop these beliefs from stopping your journey before it begins is to study them. To know them inside and out, and to act in spite of them when they occur. That way you build power: true soul-baring force. Try this on for size: When you’ve come across a belief that is threatening to stop your journey, take a breath and look it square in the eye, then act anyway. You’ll know what actions to take after the next section, so hold tight. Just know that you’re going to act in spite.
This will teach you to develop your courage muscle, and its heart-centered courage will give you something to lean on throughout your uncertain quest. To re-cap, when a limiting belief comes your way like “I don’t deserve to know my purpose” you’ll first shine your light of awareness on the belief, look it square in the face, then take action right over it.
Questions for the great dig
Now that you know why you’re doing this and how to overcome any hurdle, you’re ready for the turbulent seas. You’re preparation is done, the shore is now out of sight. All that remains is you and the seas of your soul. Get ready to dive deep. Keep in mind that we’re going to analyze common threads in your life and the deep desires you have currently to give you a one two punch to finding your purpose.
Step one, the soul-baring questions:
If you had all the money in the world, how would you spend your time?
What would your perfect day look like? Describe every detail.
What activities set your soul on fire?
What do you love to do?
These should be enough to get you going. Don’t be afraid to dive deep with these questions, and write down whatever comes to mind. Make sure you create some space to ponder these questions. Nothing is too outlandish, so do your best to turn off your mental filter. The best answers will come when you can turn off your self-judgement.
Once you have these answers in hand, we’re going to take a little stroll back into your memory to dig up some more answers. When you’re a child, your life experience is more freeing, playful, and alive. Your whims direct your life and you’re more plugged into a deeper current. At this stage in your life the outside world hasn’t shaped you dreams yet, you have direct access to your passions. We all had things we loved to do as kids but ended up giving them up for the sake of practicality. What we’re going to do here is take a stroll through your memory banks and try to gain some glimpses of this childhood wisdom.
Step two, connect with your inner child:
What brought you immense joy as a kid?
What were you doing when you lost track of time?
What did your parents have to drag you away from?
What did you love deep down before the world told you to get practical?
Once again, keep your mind in an open place. If you’re having trouble, it may help to look at a picture of yourself when you were younger, or grab an old stuffed animal or other item that sends you back into the memory banks. Write to your heart’s content—even use crayons if you have to!
Building your golden thread
Now that you’ve braved the epic seas, the other shoreline is in sight. The last stretch of the journey is to string all the bits of randomness together and find the common themes. The digging is done—great work.
Your job now is to take a hard look at all your answers, and see if you can pull out any common ideas that are in both lists. Maybe you’ve wanted be a writer since you were a child, and committing words to a page every day really sets your soul on fire. There’s a good chance that writing may be involved in your life’s purpose.
Maybe you’ve always been fascinated by the stars and the cosmos, reading textbooks on the subject in your spare time, and you’ve always had a deep connection to spending time outdoors. You could combine this into an excursion where you lead groups of people into the wild to stargaze and contemplate their place in the universe.
Let your creativity reign, and don’t fret if you can’t make a connection right away. Sometimes it helps to sleep on it and let your subconscious work on the solution for you.
If you’ve done the work then you’re on your way to finding your life’s purpose. When it’s there, you’ll feel it deep down in your bones.
It can be easy to run through the maze of life without pausing to think of its meaning: 10 Ways to Live a More Meaningful LifeFeatured photo credit: run to purpose, woman silhouette on the beach via Shutterstock