Finding Your Purpose? Try These 3 Questions.
You’re on your way home after a hard day at work in a bus packed with people and smelling of sweaty school children. As you reflect on the day and wish for fresh air, you think about getting home to your favourite couch, and wonder if “there’s more to life than this?”
More than the daily grind, and the cycle of waiting for weekends and off-days. Deep inside you feel there’s a hidden you with a different dream waiting for his or her time in the world. It can leave you with a “something is missing” kind of feeling. So what’s missing?
Let’s try “purpose.”
By purpose, I don’t mean tasks - the checklists of things to be done or the profound meaning of becoming enlightened spiritual beings. Although, that would be wonderful!
But the purpose of what makes you wake up everyday and you feel as you get ready, that yeah this is what I'm supposed to do. And this feeling can very much carry on throughout your life, because you can have more than one purpose as you develop and grow.
To some seeking answers, it comes to them through spiritual experiences high in the mountains. but let’s face it. Not all of us can do that. Especially if you have altitude sickness, and your bum turns to buns of steel in the cold.
We everyday people however, still very much can find our purpose. To be honest, you don’t need to find your purpose. It will find you. Your purpose exists in your hidden depths of your heart – yes, very clichéd. But it basically means that somewhere within you, your instinct knows. As Paolo Coelho has said in The Alchemist when Santiago asks:
"Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked.
“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.”
It’s possible that it whispers or has whispered to you, but your logical mind tells it to shush. And the more you shush it, the more you wonder about “what’s missing?” So, instead of running in circles pondering, try these 3 questions and see if they help.
1) What would you want to do, even if you didn’t get paid for it?
This question will have 2 groups of people - those with generic ideas and some with more specific. For example, if someone desired to change peoples’ lives for the better, think about what you mean by “better” – better in terms of skills, in terms of charity, health or something else.
The other group will have less ambiguous responses like music, safeguarding and defending the country, or health and fitness, etc. Quick note here, don’t overthink this by adding practical elements and stressors of how is that possible, that won’t pay the bills, i have a family to feed, and so on. This is just to brainstorm some initial ideas, and not to make a plan.
If there was no monetary reward, what would you want to do anyway because the passion would pay more than the currency ever would?
2) What moves you – from the core of your being?
By this, I don’t mean move you for a few days or a week when you see something on TV. I mean they stay with you and occupy your mind even for weeks and months after. Think of humanitarian issues - while that would move a majority of the human race due to the way we’re wired and the emotional intensity of it, there will only be some who will continue to reflect and feel this urge to want to resolve those issues in the long-run.
Even after the initial intensity of the emotions has settled, these group of people will feel the tug in that direction. For others it can be the natural world - you can lose yourself in admiring and learning about its engineering and beauty? Perhaps it’s history, because you are fascinated with the past and connect with it more than the present. Or it could be travelling – not just for the thrill or for a vacation, name-dropping, but because you feel renewed, and are taken in by the cultural depth of this planet.
So think about what makes you itch in a good way, and you like it.
3) Who are the people you look at and want to emulate?
Is there someone you look at and think, “Wow…I so badly would want to do something like that,” or “I would love to have those skills and achieve what she/he has.”
Wanting to be paired opposite your favourite actor so you can stare at them like a creep up-close, doesn’t count. But wanting to act and be cast for their roles for the love of the art, does.
For some this could be taking inspiration from Malala Yousafzai because of the desire to bring education to girls in specific communities. Or the Late Steve Irwin because you want to combine conservation with entertainment. Celebrities and famous people aside, this could be your grandfather whom you admire for specific qualities or a skill-set which you want to learn for yourself and share with the world.
Those are the 3 questions. It’s possible that you may have answers to all of these questions, just one… or none. But regardless, don’t be disheartened because purpose has an ability to find its own question in order to reveal itself as the answer. It will find you and when it does, you need to recognise it and be brave enough to listen to your heart to take the leap of faith. Don’t be intimidated because that leap doesn’t need to be a big one. It can start small and fit into your current life.
You don’t need to quit your job and scream freedom once you discover it. Building on that purpose doesn’t mean you replace your 9-5 with it immediately. We live in a world where survival is important, so do what you need to for that, but consider creating the foundation for this purpose on the side, on the weekends, or weekday nights. Maybe get your friends, spouse or family involved.
And remember wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.