Last week during a mentoring session, my friend asked me a question, how does one figure out their life purpose?. She recently left a managerial corporate job which she held for over a decade. She is wondering how to be a SAHM, make use of her skills and contribute to the family income.
In his book The Art of Work, Jeff Goins observed that,
A life purpose is the thing that you never thought would be; the twist in the plot that makes everything else come together and somehow it is the end you cannot imagine otherwise.
Below I share some of the insights that came out of our discussion as well as what those who have written on this subject have to say.
1. Embark on the Journey
Discovery your life purpose is a journey. For some people their journeys are short while others have longer ones. What is common however is everyone who embarks on this journey reaches their destination. This is because each of us has a calling. God is waiting for us to answer that call and when you show that you are ready he will provide the answers.
This journey begins by you answering the question who am I? Your past is full of experiences that will help you to find the necessary answers. Perhaps that is why the late Steve Jobs cautioned us thus “you cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”. You need to figure out what thread has spun through your life over the years that is synonymous with your passion as well as the skills and abilities you possess.
It is also imperative that you maintain an open mind on this journey. In most cases we have an idea of what our life purpose is. However, when we put this on the scale of what people will say or think about what we want to do; we often find the scale tipping over.
It may thus be argued that the first step to discovering your life purpose is to free yourself from the bondage of other people’s expectations of you. What should matter is that you are fulfilled and are doing something that is making the world a better place.
2. Listen to Your Instincts
In his book quoted above, Jeff Goins uses the words calling, purpose and vocation interchangeably. To him, “you do not just know what your calling is, you must listen for clues along the way”.
The scriptures say, it is in being still that we know God is God. Perhaps that is why people who practice meditation and deep prayer attest to the fact that God speaks to them. In order to hear what your gut is telling you, you need to block out the noise and be still. Find what works for you. Whether it is prayer or meditation or communing with nature or anything else that offers you stillness.
In my case, I used prayer and my journals can attest to this. There were days when I thought it was clear but when I focused in the natural realm it made no sense. Upon sharing with my extended family what I was going to do, my mother wondered how this would bring in money.
It is almost a year since I started blogging and I am yet to earn my first pay. However, like my husband can tell you, this blog has consumed me and brought out the best of me. In spite of all the work involved I do this with passion and delight. Everything just feels right. There are days I feel tired but I am never drained. I had slacked on my habit of reading but blogging is getting me back to this passion.
Oprah Winfrey while speaking to Stanford students about finding their purpose told them “your life is your greatest teacher”. She cautioned them thus “align your personality with your purpose and no one will touch you”. In the same way you pay attention to teachers in class, allow your live to teach you what you need to know about yourself.
3. Use the Elimination Method
Another way to discover your purpose is to begin by eliminating what you know you do not want. Perhaps you are in a job that is draining and all you look forward to is the paycheck. I like the advise Oprah gave “knowing what you do not want to do is the best possible place to be if you do not know what to do. This is because knowing what you do not want to do often leads you to figure out what it is that you really want”
In my friend’s case, she is very clear that she does not want to do what she was doing at her corporate job. Her worry however is the expedition she has to take to build a small business from scratch. I advised her to remember that we serve a God who gives growth and I am praying that this will encourage her to take those baby steps. Maybe you are in the same place and feel the mountain before you is huge. Remember though that a journey of a thousand steps begins with one step. You need to take that first step and trust the all mighty God to lead you to your purpose.
In conclusion, it is paramount to remember the work to finding your life purpose has to be done by you. Although you may enlist the help of experts; the answers are revealed to you because you have the calling. I hasten to add that discovering your life purpose is the best gift you can give yourself if only to experience the fulfillment that it brings.
I close by again quoting Oprah who said, “Your real work is to figure out where your power base is and to work on that alignment of your personality, your gifts, what you have to give with the real reason why you are here”.