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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person

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’re not really sure how to find purpose in life.

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 when you start asking how to find my purpose.

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.

Successful people know that the fastest way to learn how to find your purpose is through the art of introspection: diving into the deeper essence 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.

Here are some of the simple steps you’ll need to take if you want to learn how to find purpose in life.

Why Do You Want This?

Ultimately, you’re trying to improve your life and live with meaning by finding your purpose. 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.

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Your purpose can be the driving force behind this. If you feel lost, your sense of purpose can be your connection to something larger, something that will allow you to truly make a difference[1].

Finding Purpose – Student Health & Counseling Center

    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, hold it close.

    What You’ll Need to Find Your Purpose

    Before any great quest (physical or mental), 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.

    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 quest.

    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 big (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 set sail. Your tools are sharpened, and your mind is prepped as you’re thinking how to find my purpose.

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    If you’re someone who procrastinates, just getting started may be difficult. If that’s the case, check out Lifehack’s free guide: End Distraction And Find Your Focus. It will help you focus your attention on the next steps, which will ultimately lead you to your purpose.

    1. Facing Your Inner Dialogue

    When you first begin to dive into your thoughts and desires, there will be an initial resistance, a pervading fear of the unknown[2].

    The first inner 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.”

    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 spiraling, they lose their power. They get their power by operating below the surface, 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’ll have to take action to correct your inner dialogue if you really want to learn how to find purpose in life.

    Try this on for size: When you’ve come across a belief that is threatening to stop your journey, take a breath, look it square in the eye, and then act anyway.

    This will teach you to develop your courage muscle, and this heart-centered courage will give you something to lean on throughout your uncertain quest. This will ultimately improve your mental health overall.

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    2. 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 challenges you’ll inevitably face. Your preparation is done, so now it’s time to look at what your soul is trying to tell you.

    You can check out this TED Talk by Noeline Kirabo to learn about some questions that will help you discover your passion and purpose:

    Now, get ready to dive deep. Keep in mind that we’re going to analyze common threads in your life and the deep desires you currently have to give you a one-two punch when learning how to find purpose in life.

    Step 1: 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?

    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 and learn how to find purpose in life.

    When you’re a child, your life experience is more freeing, playful, and alive. Your whims direct your life, and you’re more plugged in to a deeper current. At this stage in your life, the outside world hasn’t shaped your dreams yet, and you have direct access to your passions and purpose.

    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.

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    Step 2: 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 when finding your purpose. 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.

    3. Weaving Your Golden Thread

    Now that you’ve pulled yourself away from social media long enough to brave the depths of your thoughts, you’re ready to do the hard work of learning how to find purpose in life and defining yours. The last stretch of the journey is to string all the bits of randomness together and find the common themes.

    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 to 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, 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 as you’re working on finding your purpose, 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. Learning the proper way to set goals also helps tremendously.

    You can also check out this Lifehack Fast Track Class for a little extra push as you work on learning how to find your purpose:

    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.

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    The Bottom Line

    Learning how to find purpose in life is a lifelong journey, but once your purpose has been discovered, you’ll find that your life opens itself up in ways you never thought possible. You will experience new depths of opportunity, and your eyes will be opened to all the possibilities around you. First, you must simply turn toward your thoughts and jump in.

    More on How to Find Your Purpose

    Featured photo credit: Katerina Kerdi via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Western Oregon University: Finding Purpose
    [2] Journal of Anxiety Disorders: Fear of the unknown: One fear to rule them all?

    More by this author

    Kevin Wood

    Kevin Wood is a passionate writer who shares mental and spiritual advice on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

    Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of motivation that lists five categories of human needs that dictate individual behavior. These five categories refer to physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.[1]

    Motivation plays a big part in athletic coaching. I spent 44 years coaching basketball and each day at practice, I was trying to motivate our athletes to give their best effort. In this article, I will examine Maslow’s hierarchy and five areas of needs from an athletic perspective.

    1. Physiological Needs

    These needs represent the most basic human survival needs. They include food, water, rest, and breathing, and all four have importance in athletics.

    Food has had an evolution in the world of athletics. I cannot recall my coaches in the 1950s and ‘60s mentioning anything about food. As time went on, the pre-game meal became important. Steak seemed to be the meal of choice early in the evolution. Research then indicated pasta would be the better choice.[2]

    Today, I think most coaches prefer pasta. However, if the players are ordering from menus, some coaches believe the players should stick with their regular diets and order accordingly.

    The next step in this evolution was that the pre-game meal, although important, is not nearly as critical as the athletes’ overall nutrition. At our University of St. Francis athletic seminars, we invited nutritionists to speak and to educate our players on their nutritional habits.

    The ultimate change in food intake may be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady. He adheres to a specific, disciplined diet that has allowed him to play superb football at age 43.

    Water also has had an evolution in sports. It went from not being allowed in practices to coaches scheduling water breaks during the practices.

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    Rest is extremely important in all sports, and statistics validate its importance. NBA research found that during the course of the season teams win 6 of 10 games at home but only 4 of 10 on the road. In the NBA playoffs, the statistics change to 6.5 at home and 3.5 on the road. Many coaches believe rest is the key factor to these statistics because the players are sleeping in their own beds for home games.[3]

    Our St. Francis basketball team found the importance of breathing on a trip to play in a tournament in Colorado. In our first game, we were playing great and winning by 12 points early in the game. Then the altitude kicked in, adversely affected our breathing, and we lost the lead and eventually the game.

    In our second game, having learned our lesson, we substituted more frequently! Maslow’s idea of physiological needs plays a major part in the athletic arena.

    2. Safety Needs

    Safety needs include protection from violence, emotional stability and well-being, health security, and financial security.

    If a fight breaks out during a basketball game, there can be serious injuries. This is the reason a coach steps in immediately when there is any violence or dirty play in practice. The coach must protect the players. You drill your teams to play hard—never dirty.

    The importance of emotional stability has gained more credence in sports in recent years. Many teams hire psychologists to help work with their players. There is a great deal of player failure in sports and it is critical for the players to stay emotionally stable.

    Health security is much more prevalent in sports today than in my playing days. I once got a concussion during a basketball game. We had no trainers. The coach handled it by telling me after the game, “Sullivan, you play better when you don’t know where the hell you are!” He was right, and my medical treatment ended there! Games today have trainers available to protect the health of the athletes.

    Financial security is predominant in professional sports. Most players today use free agency to go where the money is because they consider sport not to be a sport at all. They believe it is a short-term business at their level. I personally appreciate the athletes who have taken less money so the team can retain teammates or use the dollars to bring in new players.

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    3. Love and Belonging Needs

    These needs can be summed up with two words: love and relationships.

    After teams win championships, you will often hear coaches say, “I love these guys” or “I loved coaching this team.” You can tell by their body language and the tone of their voice that they really mean it.

    I think coaches say this because the season can be a tough grind. Practices, scouting, film work, travel, and problems that arise take a toll on coaches. However, when you have teams that give all they have every night in practice, you do come to love them.

    ESPN did a 30-30 segment on the North Carolina State national championship team coached by Jim Valvano. I was especially interested in watching it because I knew a player on the team who used to come to our camps. Terry Gannon played a major role in their championship.

    The program was a reunion of their players. This was 20 plus years from their title, and if you were to take one thing away from the show, it would be how much the players loved each other.

    In the last analysis, sport is all about relationships. You can meet former teammates with whom you played 40 to 50 years earlier and that athletic bond is as strong as it ever was. Although you may have not seen each other in years, your friendship is so cemented it’s like you have been seeing each other weekly.

    David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, validates the relationship between athletics forges. Ted Williams is dying and three of his former Boston Red Sox teammates—Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio—make the trip to Florida to see him. Even though 50 years had passed since they played together, the bond among them never waned.

    Love and belonging epitomize the essence of sports.

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    4. Esteem Needs

    These needs are characterized by self-respect and self-esteem. Self-respect is “the belief that you are valuable and deserve dignity.” Self-esteem is twofold—“it is based on the respect and acknowledgment from others and esteem which is based on your own self-assessment.”[4]

    Often the players on the bench are the ones the coach respects the most because they work so hard in practices yet receive none of the glory. The best coaches never let the starters or stars ever denigrate the players on the bench. Coaches must always acknowledge the value and the dignity of those who play little. They often turn out to be the superstars of their professions.

    Some coaches will never get “it.” They think they can motivate their players by degrading them. They embarrass the athletes during games and they constantly berate their performance in practices.

    Great coaches are just the opposite. They are encouragers. They do push their players and they push them hard, but they always respect them. Great coaches enhance the self-esteem and confidence of their players.

    5. Self-Actualization Needs

    “Self-actualization describes the fulfillment of your full potential as a person.”[5]

    I believe three words are the key to self-actualization: potential, effort, and regrets.

    You often hear in athletics that a player has potential. It also is not uncommon for the person introducing the athlete to rave about his potential. I was fortunate to work with an outstanding man in the Milwaukee Bucks camps, Ron Blomberg. Ron had the best definition of potential that I ever heard: “Potential means he hasn’t done it.” Will he do all the work necessary to fulfill his potential?

    Effort is great, but it’s not enough. If you want to reach your full potential, you must have a consistency of effort in your daily habit. Only consistency of effort can lead to success.

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    John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said that success is becoming all your ability will allow you to be. He agreed with his friend, major league umpire, George Moriarty, even though he used to kid him. Coach told him he never had seen Moriarty spelled with just one “i.” He followed this with, “Of course, the baseball players accused him of having only one ‘eye’ in his head as well.”

    In his poem, The Road Ahead or The Road Behind, Moriarty wrote,

    “. . . for who can ask more of a man
    than giving all within his span, it seems to me, is not so far from – Victory.

    When your life is winding down and you look back if you can say you gave “all in your span”—that you consistently gave it your best effort—you will have reached your full potential and there will be no regrets.

    Final Thoughts

    Now that you’ve learned more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, consider reflecting on the last two needs (esteem needs and self-actualization needs) and ask yourself the following questions:

    • Are you doing all you can to enhance the self-esteem of those around you?
    • Are you doing all you can to self-actualize the potential you have been given?

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

    Reference

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