The following is a guest post from Lachlan Brown from Hackspirit.
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about your purpose in life, coming up empty over and over?
I did too. That’s until I started learning more about what finding a life purpose actually meant.
Part of my problem was that I thought having a life purpose was this one “grand” thing I was supposed to be doing.
And, if I wasn’t doing that, then I was a failure
I quickly learned that life wasn’t all about one amazing purpose. It’s about finding and doing things (even little things) that I enjoy and add value to others.
For me, this included simply calling in on family and friends to see how they were doing or writing a blog post that helped people in a practical way.
For those who are wondering about their purpose, I’m sharing 7 counter-intuitive questions to help you get a clearer picture of what brings purpose and value to your life.
1. What emotions do you want to feel?
Those that talk about wanting to find their life purpose really desire to feel a certain way.
Or, they think that by doing their life purpose, they’ll feel a particular feeling.
Maybe it’s peace they’re after.
Or perhaps it’s a mixture of various positive emotions.
By feeling your desired feeling now, you open yourself up to gaining clarity regarding your life purpose.
Emotions are powerful guidance systems that can help us determine what to do and not do in life. Learn to listen to them.
Once you’ve identified how you want to feel, think about the areas in your life that already give you those feelings.
For example, if you desire joy, think about what brings you joy right now.
Maybe it’s playing with your dog or taking your kids to the playground.
Or perhaps it’s hanging out with friends.
Spend time engaging in the things that help you feel joy right now. As a byproduct, you’ll be living out part of your life purpose.
2. What did you love doing as a child?
Think back to when you were a child. What is it that you were passionate about? What did you spend a great deal of time doing? What made you laugh?
If you were into radios, did you collect them? Try to figure out how they worked? Or were you constantly being creative by painting, drawing and generally creating stuff?
Think about how “in the moment” you were back then.
How free you felt doing whatever it is that made you feel happy at that time.
You may find that back in your childhood lie some clues as to what your life purpose is today.
3. What activities do you get lost in?
Have you ever been doing something where you lost track of time? Maybe you thought 30 minutes had gone by, but hours had actually passed.
Being that absorbed in something is typically an indicator that you truly love the activity.
You’re in the flow and couldn’t care less about time.
In fact, you wish you could do that thing a whole lot more.
Now write some of those activities down and consider how these could play into you feeling purposeful about life.
4. Do you have a cause that you’re passionate about?
What moves you to tears? What inspires you to be better? What issues do you have strong opinions about?
Whether it’s from the news, websites you visit, or chats with friends, the things that you feel strongly about could play a part in your life purpose.
For example, if you feel strong, empathic emotion as you drive by teens playing ball in the city park, explore it further.
Why do you feel for them?
What does it stir in you?
Maybe you’d like to work with teens in some regard. Or perhaps you remember what it was like to try to fit in on the courts.
Take time to explore those issues that make you feel like you want to take a stand or serve others.
5. If you had infinite wealth and didn’t have to work, how would you spend your days?
Plenty of us wishes we had enough wealth to not “have” to work. However, having endless hours to just sit won’t lead to a very fulfilling life.
What would you spend your time doing if you didn’t have to work?
Maybe you’d read more, volunteer, or go back to school.
Visualize what you think your days would be like.
Mix it up and try to really feel the feelings associated with what you choose to do.
This may help you realize where your passions lie.
6. What do you talk about most of the time?
Chances are, whatever you’re talking most of the time has something to do with feeling purposeful.
If you’re not sure what you spend your time talking about, ask those closest to you. They are likely to clue you in on aspects of you that you might overlook.
You can also look at who you’re talking with. Are you hanging out with the sports fans?
The tech crowd?
People that talk more about politics and philosophy than what was on TV last night?
Think about what you talked about and whether you enjoyed the conversation.
Spending time with others oftentimes involves shared beliefs and values.
When you take the time to investigate who you’re with and what you’re discussing, it could be eye-opening.
7. What are your ultimate life goals?
What’s on your bucket list? Things you want to do before it’s going to be too late to do them. If you don’t have one, take the time to make one.
You may find something on that list that you could be doing right now.
By creating a list, you get a different perspective on your personal development goals and maybe a few clues about your life purpose.
Wrapping It Up
Life is full of opportunities to feel purposeful.
Try not to get caught up in seeking that one grand achievement that you think will be your life purpose.
Engage in the things that are already meaningful to you and keep asking yourself counter-intuitive questions to gain more clarity about your future.
Lachlan Brown is the founder of Hack Spirit, a blog on mindfulness and practical psychology. He loves writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. He has a graduate degree in Psychology and he’s spent the last 6 years reading and studying all he can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with Lachlan, you can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.