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Why People Who Have a Life Purpose Have Higher Self-Esteem

Why People Who Have a Life Purpose Have Higher Self-Esteem

Think back to a time when you felt the most lost. More likely than not, you were at a cross-roads, completely unsure of where to turn. Without a sense of direction, you feel stagnant; useless. “What am I even doing here?” You may ask yourself. “And where do I go from here?” No doubt this can be one of the most unsettling sensations that we can hope to experience. This is why those who have an established sense of purpose tend to have higher self-esteem.

As human beings, we desire a sense of purpose.

Some of us are incredibly fortunate in the fact that we discover the purpose of our life’s work very early on. It seems that some people are practically born shredding riffs on a guitar, or deciphering the most complicated of algorithms. But for the rest of us, it’s a bit of a guessing game until we finally find that something that just “clicks.” Until then, we may feel lost or a little bit useless.

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Your purpose does not always have to be your passion.

Sometimes, it’s better off that way. Some lucky people are able to transform their passion into their livelihood,[1] and are able to maintain the aspects that they love about it. But for many that isn’t the case. It can destroy your perception of your passion and make you abandon your pursuit. But you can still build your career on something that you are passionate about, and there is a difference. That difference being that your personal welfare does not hang so vulnerably in the balance.

How to know that you are pursuing your “life’s work”:

  1. It feels more like a hobby than work.
  2. You work is an extension of your beliefs and values.
  3. You are willing to suffer for your work, and use setbacks as motivation.
  4. You lose yourself in the work, often losing sense of time.
  5. You are able to maintain a work/life balance without feeling drained.
  6. The concept of work is never daunting; you look forward to it.
  7. The people closest to you will notice your contentment.
  8. No matter how exhausted you are, you look forward to continuing your work.

Can we exist without a purpose?

Well, technically, yes. But whenever we perform any sort of act, there is an intention behind it. Even if the act is just breathing, the intention is to live. Your purpose does not have to be a lucrative facet. In fact, it could be just the opposite of that. Some people make it a point to be as disconnected and off of the grid as humanly possibly, living a life that is 100% self-sustainable. The end game is not fortune or recognition, it’s complete independence. Now some people have franchised this way of life, generating income based off of their “off the grid blogs” (do I sense a major paradox here?). Just in that one instance, you have two completely different intentions, stemmed from similar life’s-work.

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The point that I’m trying to make here is that…

We all have a purpose. Whether or not that purpose is highly recognized by others is completely irrelevant.

In one of my previous articles, I explored the ideology Stoicism; which is the ancient Greek foundation for a kick-ass work ethic. They believed that no human was complete without their sense of purpose; and once that purpose is discovered; solace is only achieved when you sacrifice yourself to it entirely.

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Finding your sense of purpose.

Many of you may still be thinking that you have no idea what your sense of purpose is. And that’s not your fault. There are many outside influences that have hindered your passions and sense of self. Not to worry. I have a few suggestions that can set you on the path to find yourself:

Take a sabbatical.

Get off of the track that you’ve been on. It’s taking you nowhere and never will until you see the broader picture. Step outside of your comfort zone to really get a sense of who you are. By following the guidelines set forth for you, you are living out someone else’s ideals.

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You need to completely separate yourself from that to discover who you really are. Going on a solo trip might sound terrifying, but it is the best thing anyone could possibly do for themselves. If that is financially out of the picture, then force yourself to do something you would “never” do. Like going out one night on your own; to the movies or a bar or a restaurant. Doing things on your own is empowering in itself.

Revisit your childhood ambitions.

What did you want to be when you “grew up?” (When does that actually happen? I’m still waiting.) Do any of those dreams still resonate with you? Maybe you wanted to be a vet, but the idea of operating on any sort of body is terrifying and nauseating. But you love animals! Check out a local animal sanctuary and volunteer your time. You could just find your calling. And if not, you are that much closer!

Take note as you are trying new things.

Does the idea of taking the plunge to fully pursue this new outlet inspiring? Or is it draining? If you feel yourself withdrawing early on, you need to ask yourself a few things. Are you withdrawing because it is not important enough to you to sacrifice your time and efforts? Are you withdrawing because you are afraid of failure? Or are you afraid of success, because if it works out then you have to make the choice of complete devotion?

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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