Are we living an authentic life? Are we excited each day to engage and lose ourselves on the path of life that we are travelling? Are we committed to mastering the path that we are on?
Many people struggle with finding a life purpose that is authentic, personally meaningful and a source of intrinsic value. If you struggle with this, then this article is for you. I’ll set out 8 simple steps that will help us lead our life with purpose.
1. Determine What We Uniquely Value, Who We Really Are
Is the path that we are on authentic? Did we pursue a career because our parents wanted us to pursue it? Does our heart yearn for something else? We cannot live our life on purpose unless we determine what that purpose is. The first step in determining this is to determine what we uniquely value. What is it that makes us come alive? When is it that we are most fulfilled?
I found great clarity in my life when I literally wrote down my unique values, and I made sure that I didn’t get caught by the trap of only valuing what everyone else values: economic security and social acceptance. These are important values, but by fixating on them, we often make decisions (particularly relating to careers) that don’t lead to an authentic purpose.
What else do we value? For me I valued freedom, and contribution, and challenge, and variety. That led me to leave a financially secure career (law) for one that many would consider risky (entrepreneurialism and writing). But once I did I was much happier because my actions were in line with what I uniquely valued as an individual.
2. Think Action, Not Rewards
It is really, really easy to get discouraged when we fixate on the rewards of our actions as the sole motivating force in our life. Here’s why: rewards can sometimes be elusive, despite our best actions. Also, rewards can seem unfair. We see in the media all the time examples of people who become rich and famous. and we wonder why? We wonder what they did to deserve it, and why we don’t get it?
This line of thought is a recipe for discouragement, and it is a sure-fire way to cause us to pull away from our unique purpose. If we don’t see the rewards quickly, it is easy to quit. A better way is to adopt a habit of focusing on our actions, not the rewards of our actions. When we live each day, excited to give our very best in what we can control (our actions and our attitude) we are able to live a life on purpose.
3. If It Scares You, Do It
If it very unlikely (I would argue impossible) to live a life completely on purpose without ever confronting fear. It is often our deepest desires that scare us the most. They scare us because we want them, and we know that we should be pursuing them; we just don’t know how, and we are scared to fail. I have found that by doing what scares me, when it comes to what I believe is my purpose, I grow in complexity. I am happier, and I have a greater sense of personal fulfilment. If it scares me, it is likely that I should do it.
4. Commit To Mastery
Mastery is long term. Mastery is hard. Mastery take hours and hours of mundane repetition and practice. If we don’t truly believe that an activity is part of our unique life purpose, then we won’t put in the time to become a master. Also, if we don’t intrinsically enjoy our pursuit (independent of any rewards), it is likely that we won’t put in the practice to develop our talents and skills in a way that represents mastery. Commit to mastery in the things that are uniquely you. Take the long view. If you do, you will live life on purpose because you won’t become deterred by short term distractions. You will also have much more of an impact on others.
5. Seek Guidance From Mentors
There are always people out there who are willing to help us, and many of them have tread the exact path that we are currently on. Many of them have felt the same anxieties and fears that we feel. All we have to do is reach out to them. Find a way to add value to the mentor you are reaching out to. They will be glad to reciprocate your value by teaching you important things that will help you on your unique path. Sometimes mentoring comes in the form of books, articles, or speeches. Find whatever you can that helps you on your path. Don’t go at it alone.
6. Create Value For Others
A fulfilling life purpose is one that includes the creation of value for other people. Creating value for other people is also something that allows us to get paid for doing what we love. In whatever it is the we value, that we want to make our life’s work, we will be most likely to sustain this action, and make money doing it if it creates value for others. Creating value often arises by an attempt to solve a problem, or provide an insight to another. Outward directed work, that helps others, also helps us because we are rewarded for the efforts of our creation.
7. Make Plans And Take Action
Be deliberate. Be intentional. Once we have determined what it is that we uniquely value, we make it real by making a specific plan of action to take our idea, or wish, and create its tangible counterpart. Once we have a plan of action, simply take action, build our action into a habit, and continue. Make it our life’s work.
8. Be Thankful And Appreciate The Moment
Ungrateful people are difficult to be around. Don’t be one of them. Don’t be one of those people who is always complaining, and is always looking for what is wrong in the world. This is why focusing on actions, not rewards is so important. If we focus only on rewards, and those rewards don’t come, it is easy to “vent.” When we are venting, what we are really doing is just complaining (the word vent makes it seem okay for us). Resist the urge to vent, but rather just be thankful for the fact that we have a chance to do something that is authentic to us. Embrace the moment of where we are. This will go a long way to helping us live life on purpose, and it will also go a long way to ensuring our long term happiness.