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Last Updated on January 28, 2021

How to Find a Sense of Purpose to Live a Full Life

How to Find a Sense of Purpose to Live a Full Life

A satisfactory life is a “full” life. To achieve a full life, you need to have the right sense of purpose. There’s no “one purpose fits all.” You have to first understand the true meaning of having a sense of purpose, its importance, and the way to find it.

What Is a Sense of Purpose?

A sense of purpose is whatever you believe in. It is your driving force, your motivation, and your guiding light to work towards a life that you think will satisfy you.

Your life’s purpose is very closely linked to your sense of purpose. The only difference is that you only have one purpose in your life. But a sense of purpose is different for all aspects of life. Although, they are all aligned.

Your sense of purpose is what pushes you to achieve your goals. It is completely personal to your lifestyle and preferences. It is what keeps you on the right track in all aspects of life. So, a clear purpose will help you plan your career goals effectively. Similarly, a different sense of purpose for your relationships will encourage you to maintain your relationships accordingly.

While keeping things coherent, different purposes in different aspects of life also maintain a clear distinction among them. If you have completely different work ethics than how you plan to be with your family, your defined purposes will help you maintain the line.

Your beliefs and values play a huge role in determining your sense of purpose as well.[1] If you have clear values in the early stages of your life, you might have a clear sense of purpose at a young age. There is no age limit to when you find a purpose. Some people only get to it after most of their life has passed.

How to Find a Sense of Purpose?

To get the most out of your life and increase your potential, you need to start by finding a sense of purpose. It’s a process that is worth every minute you spend looking for it.

You need to start with a general purpose at first. This is a broader sense of direction for your life in general. A life purpose is what you need to define foremost. This will allow you to keep everything else aligned with this broad purpose for coherence in your life.

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For example, if your general life purpose is to be more at peace, you’ll work in each aspect of life to find a calm outcome. You’ll want to have good relations with your family. Career-wise, you’ll want something that promotes your mental health instead of deteriorating it. A steady source of wealth will also be a vital part of your goals and hence, it will translate to your purpose as well.

After that, you tackle all life aspects one by one. Here are the life aspects that you should go through:

  • Physical Health
  • Relationships, Family, and Social Life
  • Work and Career
  • Wealth and Money
  • Spiritual Wellness
  • Mental Strength

In each of these aspects, you need to look beyond what’s apparent. To find the true purpose in each regard, you have to look for the hidden opportunities so that you can identify your true driving force.

After that, you should invest your time and energy in this direction to reap good results. To do so, you can implement the following methods that will ease the whole journey for you.

1. Incorporate the 5 Whys

The 5 whys are a self-interrogatory technique. They play a very effective role when it comes to discovering your sense of purpose. The 5 whys ensure that whatever you end up finalizing is coherent with your intent.

With the help of the 5 whys, you can find all the answers that you’re looking for. The best part is that you’re the only one involved in the process so everything you end up finding out it 100% true to you. This is why it is a great method to use if you want to find a sense of purpose that will stick with you for life.

This technique will get you on track towards the direction where you’ll find your purpose. In fact, this is the step where you’ll do most of the work. The rest of the steps are just ways to strengthen what you’ve got in mind.

2. Listen to Yourself

Your mind is very likely to tell you your purpose on its own. All you’ve got to do is listen to yourself. One easy way to do so is to consciously shift your focus to what’s on your mind.

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Every morning when you wake up, what are the things that you think of first? Similarly, what are the thoughts that go through your mind before you go to sleep? Or when you randomly drift into a thinking spree during work?

All these thoughts are your mind’s way to communicate with you. Find what’s common in them to give yourself a direction to work in.

3. Meditate

Meditation is not only a great way to organize your thoughts, but it is also a source of encouragement for your mind to define a sense of purpose.[2]

Even a 5-minute session squeezed in your morning or evening routine is enough. It gives your mind the space it needs to get your mental processes in order. Once that is done, you’ll find it way easier to understand them. Extracting meaning out of what seemed senseless previously will be a piece of cake with the help of meditation. However, you’ll have to be consistent.

4. Distinguish the Do’s From Don’ts

Sit down and make a list of what you want to do in life versus what you would never want to do. Be as broad or narrow as you want. Pinpoint all the details of everything you want to steer clear from. These are the things your purpose will be far in nature from. On the contrary, your sense of purpose will be closely related to the things that you are naturally inclined towards.

With a picture in mind of the dos and don’ts clarified, it will be easier for your mind to establish an idea that suits your life choices.

Case Study: A Mom Who Has Lost Her Meaning Of Life After Her Sons Have Gone To the College

Melanie is a mom of two. She loves her family. In fact she loves it so much that she actually quit her full time job and dedicated her whole life to her family. She has two lovely sons. Everything seemed to go well until her sons went to the college. She suddenly felt empty as if something was missing in life. Doubting her meaning of life, she started to feel very upset. Her husband couldn’t really understand why she became so emotional, so they argued more often and their relationship suffered. Melanie has thought about picking up her painting hobby and doing something about it. But she also felt that she was too old to do so.

Seeking for help to get unstuck, she took our Life Assessment and this was her result at that time:

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    After taking the Life Assessment, she realized that she had very low score for “Work & Career Prosperity.” It seemed that after her sons going to college, she experienced an Empty Nest Syndrome. To get unstuck from where she was, she had to rediscover her meaning for life.

    She was really eager to change her life, so after taking the Life Assessment, she took a leap of faith and enrolled for Lifehack’s Full Life Framework Course to see what she could do to live a fulffiling life.

    Through the first few sessions, Melanie realized that raising his sons was her only motivation for life over the past 20 years. This was why she doubted her meaning of life when her sons no longer needed her to take care of. She was encouraged to take up painting again to add back spark in her life. So she started to paint at home again. She even joined interest groups to meet more people who shared the same hobby as she did. Of course she still struggled when she just started to take up painting again — everything just didn’t look well on her paintaings. But with the new mindset she developed and the skillsets she learned throughout the Full Life Framework Course (and the support from her new friends), she got over the obstacles one by one.

    I’ve learned that recently, Melanie has even started to teach the kids in her neighborhood to paint! With a more energetic life and a more positive attitude, her relationship with her husband has never been this good as well.

    If you want to find out how well you’re doing with your life too, you can take our Life Assessment for free now!

    How to Strengthen Your Sense of Purpose

    If you follow these steps to find your sense of purpose, it will be strong enough to stay consistent for life. However, there is a chance that while your purpose was clear at first, you’ve been feeling lost now.

    This isn’t something to fret over. The ups and downs in life can shake your circumstances and your purpose too. You can easily re-focus your perspective on your well-defined purpose. You can also find a new purpose that suits your new circumstances.

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    If it happens to be so, don’t feel like you’ve failed in life. It is alright if you lose your emphasis during challenging times.

    Re-Evaluate Your Life

    Start with reminding yourself of the sense of purpose you were following previously. Think about it. Think of how it affected your life and decisions. This isn’t an easy thought process. It will take you days or even weeks to come to a conclusion.

    You’ll have to go through your desired achievements, short-term and long-term goals, and most importantly, your past. Evaluate all these facts of your life.

    Then, question yourself to find out if the same purpose still aligns with your life choices or not.

    If Yes

    If the answer to the question is yes, your sense of purpose is perfectly fine. All that you need is some motivation to put it into practical implementation. You need to remind yourself of all the benefits of having a clear sense of purpose.

    Everything that you achieved because of your sense of purpose, everything that you wish to achieve will serve as your source of motivation. You can also try some other motivation boosting tips to refocus your perspective.

    If No

    If you think your sense of purpose has done you no good or will no longer be of any use, you require a new sense of purpose. This is possible in case you went through major changes in life. Your sense of purpose can also get hazy if you failed to define a strong one initially.

    Final Thoughts

    Having a sense of purpose is a fool-proof way to a fully satisfactory life. It leads to ease in prioritization, strengthens morals and values, aligns all your life goals, and helps you stay focused. The clarity in life is only possible if you have your sense of purpose sorted.

    So, get on with the process right away. You’ll have a sorted life in no time once you’re done with defining your purposes in all aspects of life!

    More About Finding Your Sense of Purpose

    Featured photo credit: Ilya Shishikhin via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Beyond Blue: Sense of Purpose
    [2] Intentional Insights: Meditating on Purpose

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2021

    How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

    How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

    Self-esteem is a driving force behind our confidence and how we see and feel about ourselves. It encompasses our sense of value, significance, and self-worth. That’s why learning how to build self-esteem is essential to personal growth and happiness.

    Research has shown that over 80% of people struggle with varying levels of low self-esteem. Yet, having a solid sense of self-esteem has the chance to positively impact and powerfully transform every area of your life – from your relationships to your career, from your health and well-being, to your fulfillment and levels of success.

    A deep feeling of self-esteem is something that needs to grow and be nurtured over time. In this article I will show you the things you can do right now to learn how to improve self-esteem. Then, you will realize your hidden potential and your self-worth.

    What Is Self-Esteem?

    While the dictionary defines it as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect,” put simply, self-esteem is the overall sense or feeling you have about your own self-worth or self-value.

    Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more about how you feel about your abilities and will vary from situation to situation. You can have great self-esteem (feeling good about yourself overall) but low self-confidence about a particular situation or event (e.g. public speaking). Or, maybe you’ve got great self-confidence in an area (e.g. a sport that you play) but low self-esteem overall.

    A strong and solid sense of self-esteem comes from deep within, from a belief in your importance, your value, and your worthiness. The good news is that there are many ways to improve self-esteem, which we will look at below.

    Causes of Low Self-Esteem

    Low self-esteem can stem from many areas. It is largely influenced by how other people see and treat us, and our relationships, which is why the influence of our parents has the most significant impact on our self-esteem. Here are some of the most common causes of low self-esteem:

    An Unhappy Childhood

    Those who grew up with critical, abusive, or neglectful parents are more likely to face challenges with their own self-worth, while those who experienced acceptance, approval, and affection are more likely to have a higher sense of self-value.

    Traumatic Experiences

    Lower levels of self-esteem can also stem from bad experiences or traumatic events, such as being bullied or being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Essentially, it can stem from anything that has brought up feelings of shame, guilt, or worthlessness.

    Experiences of Failure

    For some, lower self-esteem is connected to their success and accomplishments, or lack thereof, including experiences of failure, or not achieving goals or expectations.

    Negative Self-Talk

    Many cases of low self-esteem are perpetuated by negative self-talk. This could be a story that you have created yourself or that someone else created for you long ago that you continue to believe, and it gets in the way of learning how to build self-esteem.

    Maybe for you, like for many others, low self-esteem is rooted in your feelings about your appearance or body image. It’s not just about how you look; it’s about how you feel about how you look. We are bombarded with messages from an early age about being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, or too much of anything, or not enough of something else.

    What Happens When You Lack Self-Esteem?

    Low self-esteem can lead to significant physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and addiction. In fact, research shows that adolescents who suffered from low self-esteem grew up to have more physical and mental problems, higher rates of criminal convictions, lower earnings, and challenges with long-term unemployment[1].

    On the flipside, a strong sense of self-esteem will help you experience greater health and well-being, better relationships, and higher levels of happiness, fulfillment, and success. One study even correlated higher levels of self-esteem with higher earning potential[2].

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    Assess Your Own Self-Esteem

    Individuals with low or compromised self-esteem can see themselves as inadequate, incompetent, and even unlovable. While they often know at a “conscious” level that these things aren’t true, they still feel that way deep within. That’s what makes challenges with self-esteem so tricky; it’s often not about the reality of what is, but the perception of what someone feels.

    Those with low self-esteem may appear socially withdrawn or quiet, negative, insecure, indecisive, unhappy, or even angry. They are more likely to find themselves in unhealthy relationships, have a fear of failure, and worry about what others think.

    On the flipside, those with high self-esteem, more often than not, feel a strong sense of self-worth and value, feelings of confidence and acceptance. They tend to find themselves in healthy relationships (and ditch the bad ones), take care of themselves, and are more resilient when faced with setbacks, obstacles, and failures. In general, they tend to stand up more for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

    Self-esteem can be measured on a scale of high to low: while too little has its obvious downsides, you can also have too much of a good thing. Those with an overly strong sense of self-esteem may appear cocky, narcissistic, and self-important.

    Finding the balance of a strong sense self of self-worth and humility is important as we go through life, which is why it’s so important to learn how to build self-esteem the right way.

    How to Build Self-Esteem (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    Self-esteem issues are generally found in the gap between who you are and who you think you should be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you, yet the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.

    Learning how to increase self-esteem is not an easy task. While I wish I could wave a magic wand for you, what I’ve learned is that building and nurturing your self-esteem takes time. However, it is a worthwhile investment. Once you’ve done the work, you’ll reap the many rewards and benefits for a lifetime.

    Below are some great strategies to start your journey.

    1. Get to the Root Cause

    Identifying the real, root cause(s) for your low self-esteem is one of the most important things you can do to build it back up.

    We named many reasons above. Maybe one of them, in particular, resonated with you. Perhaps your parents said you were “never good enough” or that you wouldn’t amount to anything. I work with clients all the time who share stories of their parents’ behavior and the significant impact it has had on their self-esteem.

    Whatever experiences you may have had, and whatever the root issue might be for you, I strongly recommend you get someone to support you through the process to identify and deal with it. Find a counselor, therapist, coach or someone who is trained in helping uncover and address these traumas, past experiences, and root issues. These folks have proven tools, tactics and strategies – and best of all, they help you experiment in a safe space.

    While you may be able to do a lot of work on your own, my experience is that if you don’t address the root cause, that feeling will creep back in over time. You can’t run away from the truth, and you can’t band-aid over old wounds. You’ve got to get to the source, which won’t be easy, but if you want to learn how to build self-esteem, it needs to be done.

    For this step, Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment may help. It can show you where you feel fulfilled and where you feel you are lacking. Try it today!

    2. See Yourself How Others See You

    See yourself how others see you, and talk to yourself as others would talk to you. What do I mean by this? Think about the person who loves you the most in this world.

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    Now, take a moment, zoom out, and imagine you are standing in their shoes and watching through their eyes. Look from their perspective and see yourself as they see you.

    What do you notice about you? What would they say to you? What do they love about you? What do they see in you?

    3. Do Your Best

    Simple advice is often the best advice. When you do your best and place your full effort into each and every day, you start to feel better about yourself.

    Now, your best might change from day to day, and some days, your best won’t be as good as it was the day before. It’s important to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with what you have, right now, in that situation, with that time frame, your level of skill or knowledge.

    When you know you’ve done your best, you have no regrets and nothing about which to feel bad or guilty. If you do your best and then someone criticizes you, it’s easier to brush off when you know you did the best you could.

    I ask my clients (and myself) this question all the time, whether they’re ruminating over something they’ve said, thinking about what they could have done better, or just disappointed about an outcome they had hoped to achieve. Did you do your best? If the answer is yes, then there’s nothing more you can do – until next time.

    4. Engage in Activities That Satisfy You

    The key word here is satisfy. Find things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction, a feeling of fullness and purpose.

    Too often we engage in activities or relationships that leave us feeling self-conscious, empty, or terrible about ourselves. It’s time to put more focus, time, and effort to do those things that feel good for your body, mind, and spirit, and to engage in things that make you feel whole and full.

    Identify what satisfies you mentally (e.g. solving a big problem or creating something new), emotionally (e.g. hanging out with friends or volunteering), physically (e.g. exercising, eating right, or taking care of your body), and spiritually (e.g. meditation or going to your place of worship).

    When you engage in something that makes you feel good and, even more importantly, makes you feel worthwhile, you will experience greater self-esteem.

    5. Identify Who You Are and Be True to That

    Self-awareness and a little soul searching are critical to your success in life and key to learning how to build self-esteem. In some cases, lack of self-esteem stems from a lack of knowing the kind of person you truly are, and the value you bring. Many of us have spent so much time trying to fit in and please others that we’ve completely lost our sense of self.Spend time paying attention and getting to know yourself. Take time to identify who you are. Some things to think about include:

    • Identifying your strengths and talents
    • Acknowledging your value and worth, and uncovering your passions
    • Understanding your values and what’s important to you
    • Thinking about how you want to serve or contribute to the world
    • Acknowledging your blind spots

    6. Accept Yourself

    Make the decision to accept the imperfectly perfect you. Know that regardless of what you have been told, what has occurred, what wrong you have done, or what challenges you have faced, you are enough. You are doing the best you can with what you have.

    We all want to be accepted for who we are. But first, we must accept ourselves.

    7. Stop Compromising Yourself

    When you let others push you around, put everyone else’s needs before your own, or cave in to what everyone else wants because you don’t want to rock the boat, it lowers your self-esteem. You are putting their needs ahead of yours, and your mind thinks to itself, “I guess I’m not that important.”

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    I worked with two different clients just last week on this very thing. They were both putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own, and it was having a significant and negative impact on their health and well-being.

    Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t take care of your kids and spouse, meet your work deadlines, or be there for your friends. But you’ve also got to take care of you. We compromise ourselves to fit in, to be loved, and to be acknowledged. However, if you are constantly compromising yourself, you will never truly feel satisfied.

    How often do you let what others think of you or need from you dictate your actions or decisions?

    If you want to learn how to build self-esteem, be strong, and stand up for yourself. It’s time to identify what you need and want for your life.

    Decide what is important to you. Naming these things will give you an inner compass to guide you. Then, identify your boundaries and the non-negotiables in your life. What are you not willing to put up with anymore? 

    Get clear on these things now, so when the time comes to push back, stand up, or politely say no, you have the back-up and inner guidance to do so.

    8. Look for the Good

    We tend to find what we are looking for. Put simply, people tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true.

    The same goes for how you see yourself. If you believe you are worthless or unlovable, you will find data to back that belief up. However, if you believe you are worthwhile and beautiful, or courageous and strong, you will soon find data to back that up instead.

    The challenge with those who suffer from low self-esteem is that they have gotten into a habit of finding what’s wrong. Often, there is a negative message lodged in their subconscious mind. In some cases, they’ve just gotten really good at seeing all their faults and shortcomings.

    The easiest way to change what you see is to change what you’re looking for. Catch yourself doing something right.

    Try this: Grab a journal, and for the next 21 days, write down 3 things you value, appreciate, or like about yourself. This might include acknowledging your wins or successes, things you are proud of, or noticing what you feel good about. While it may feel challenging at first, you’ll soon start to rewire your brain to see more of what’s right and less of what’s wrong.

    9. Stop Negative Self-Talk

    Much of your belief systems come from the negative story you are telling yourself. Your mind believes what you tell it, and if the story you are playing (over and over again) in your mind is one of the horrible mistakes you’ve made, that’s what you will continue to reinforce and strengthen through negative thoughts, which makes building confidence very difficult.

    Tell yourself you are worthless and incapable; your mind will believe that. Tell yourself you are able and awesome; your mind will believe that, too.

    Catch the negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk today if you want to learn how to build self-esteem.

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    10. Find Your Tribe

    Since so much of our self-esteem is influenced by our relationships and how others see and treat us, it’s even more critical that you surround yourself with healthy, uplifting, encouraging, and supportive people.

    Find people who know the real you, people who can speak to the value you bring, your talents and worth. These are people who can be real with you, sharing the positive and the constructive in an uplifting way.

    11. Take Chances

    Many great minds have shared that failure has been key to their success, the stepping stone to their greatness, and the catalyst to their growth. You might have heard the stories about Michael Jordan being cut from his varsity basketball team, Oprah Winfrey being told she wasn’t “meant to be on TV,” and Steven Spielberg being rejected for film school not just once, but three times.

    Taking chances, experiencing failure, and building resilience is key to learning how to build self-esteem. After all, if you never take a chance, you will never know – and you’ll stay stuck in your story.

    12. Find Meaning and Create Goals

    As humans, we all need to learn, develop, grow, and contribute. When you are suffering from low self-esteem, this can create a vicious cycle:

    You don’t feel great about yourself, so you don’t go out there and make stuff happen. Because you’re not being successful, you feel a lack of self-worth.

      It’s time to break the cycle.

      Take steps that allow you to become who you are truly capable of being. Perhaps this is about finding something that gives you meaning, or maybe it’s about the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be. For example, the act of helping others (contributing, volunteering and being kind) have shown to not only increases self-esteem, but also happiness, health, and satisfaction[3].

      Start with something small and work your way up. Each small success will bring about greater confidence and, ultimately, a stronger sense of self-esteem.

      The Bottom Line

      The journey to higher self-esteem will be challenging, but the challenge is what builds depth, strength, character and resilience. If the reward is greater self-esteem, which leads to greater relationships, a better career, increased health and well being, more success, and a greater sense of self-worth, it’s worth it.

      While you live in a society where you are constantly bombarded with messages of not being enough and how you could be better, just remember this:

      You are deserving of love, happiness, and success. You are imperfectly perfect. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time, and even if you feel inadequate, unlovable, or unworthy, know that you are none of those things.

      You may not be able to believe this yet, but some part of you, deep down inside, knows this to be true.

      Now, it’s time to take the steps above and realize it for yourself.

      More on How to Build Self-Esteem

      Featured photo credit: Barbora Polednová via unsplash.com

      Reference

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