What is Life Purpose ?
It seems all the buzz today is about people seeking and/or living their life purpose. Just take a look at the non-fiction bestselling books - The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren has sold over 25 million copies in the past five years alone! Life purpose is about knowing what you're here to do. It is also often called "primary aim," "main intention," "highest calling," etc.
We all have a life purpose. Some people are fortunate to know their life purpose at a very young age, pursue it fervently, and achieve it. Most of us however, grapple with this, and either have difficulty knowing what it is, or find themselves constantly changing it throughout their lives, or worse, never knowing it at all. Knowing your life purpose is probably the most important determiner of success, as your path will be much straighter, easier and quicker. Most coaches would agree that coaching is about helping clients achieve their goals. Finding your best possible goals is the key to attaining them. However, before you can even set goals, you need to know your purpose in attaining them. Therefore, one of the most important skills of a life coach is to assist people in finding their life purpose.
Deepak Chopra once said "The majority of people on earth are unfulfilled or unhappy because they do not have a purpose or a mission. As a part of the human species, we seek purpose and meaning; we laugh, and we are aware of our mortality. This is what distinguishes us from other creatures. Laughter, mortality and purpose become three important, crucial questions. We search for meaning - a deep significance to life."
There are many methods coaches use to assist people in finding their life purpose. One of the most common ways is through strategic use of questions, i.e., what is the most meaningful thing you've ever done? Why was that important? What do you think are your true gifts? What do you enjoy most? What are you best at? What activities cause you to be so completely absorbed that you tune out the rest of the world?
When you know your life purpose your life automatically flows much easier. You will be living life with more passion and enthusiasm. You will smile more, laugh more, and have more fun. You will move forward with unstoppable drive.
Here are some examples of life purpose:
Walt Disney's purpose: "To make children happy."
Andrew Carnegie's purpose: "To manufacture, market and sell steel."
Oprah Winfrey's mission: "To continually seek to be better, to challenge myself and pursue excellence on every level."
Mother Teresa's purpose: "To care for and comfort the poor, sick and needy all over the world."
How Do I Find My Life Purpose ?
What is your life purpose? No one can answer this question but you. You must find it deep within yourself. And do you have more than one life purpose? The answer is "yes!" As you will read below, a person may have one main life purpose and/or many sub-purposes.
How do you find your life purpose? There are a variety of ways. A method used by Life Purpose Coach, Tim Kelley, is a more indirect method, through the use of trusted sources. With this method a coach can use a variety of techniques to help you set up communication with a trusted source. Trusted sources can be whomever or whatever you choose. Some of the trusted sources others use are friends, family, God, soul, higher self, spiritual teachers, angels, passed relatives, spirit guides, etc.
Another very helpful method is the use of meditation or just sitting quietly, going within, and asking for answers. Think of all the things you enjoy doing and that give your life the most meaning and satisfaction. Ask, "If I knew my life purpose(s) what would it/they be?" Think about what your gifts are. Oprah says "Your gifts are those things you would do even if you didn't get paid for them." Meditate on this every day, but don't be surprised if your answers come while you are out running, driving, watching a movie, dreaming, or during any other activity.
Another strategy is journaling. After meditating, write down what came to you. Write about your values, things that are most important to you, things you are most grateful for, what gives you the most joy, satisfaction and fulfillment, things you want to do, love to do, feel called to do, etc.
How Your Purpose Relates to Your Values
Finding your purpose is a journey into finding your true self. It originates from our soul, or core, or the deepest part of our being. It starts with what is important to us, our values, then becomes vision, then desire, then passion, then goals, then actions. So let's start with your values. Values can be defined in a variety of ways. The dictionary gives the all-inclusive definition, "something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable." Values involve personal choice, and when assessing your values it is important to be honest with yourself. Values reflect human qualities and life-style qualities that are important to you.
Common Societal Values
Think about which of these values (and what others) are important to you:
Children, religion, ethics, good physical health, good mental health, family stability, close friends, autonomy, saving for the future, honesty, equality, justice, education, knowledge, maturity, loyalty, obedience, safety, peace, beauty, originality, tradition, love, wealth, power, success, fame, attractiveness, fun, financial security, respect for authority, freedom of choice, community service…
Add your own here…..
Can I Have More Than One Life Purpose ?
You may have one main life purpose, and many sub-purposes. There are many areas of your life for which you may have a purpose. The main seven areas are listed below. As a beginning exercise, get seven pieces of paper and write one of the following categories at the top of each page. Then relax and brainstorm. Write down everything you can think of that is important to you in each category. Draw pictures if you like. Ask yourself three main questions as you go through this list: 1) What do I want to give to the world? 2) What do I want to receive from the world? 3) What would make me the happiest?
1. Physical/Emotional Health
After you have written your thoughts on each page, check and see if these are in alignment with your values. Once you know your life purpose(s) you will be on your path to achieving your dreams. Your life will have a more clear focus. The "small stuff" won't get in your way as much. Just know, however, that it will often take a lot of hard work. You will not enjoy every aspect of your purpose. You will meet stumbling blocks and obstacles along the way. Achieving goals has been compared to climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa - you walk up a few steps, then down a step or two, then back up, and so on. And as much as you plan and dream and pursue and move forward, you are always acting in conjunction with the flow and energy of the Universe. Your best life was not meant to be a struggle. Allow the natural flow and order of life to occur.
Can My Life Purpose Change Over Time ?
Of course! You are never bound by one life purpose, and you always have free choice to modify it any time you wish. At different times throughout your life you may feel you have completed one or more of your purposes. You may decide that purpose doesn't fit for you anymore. You may want to become more specific or more general about your purpose. You may add a new purpose.
The caution here is that if you change your mind too often it may become difficult to complete any one purpose. You may just be overcome with fear. You may feel it is not worth the effort involved. You may become discouraged when things are not happening as quickly as you would like. Persistence and determination may be what you need to stay on your path. You may need extra coaching during difficult times, or times of fear and/or indecision. A good coach will partner with you in your life purpose. He/she can assist you by giving you the structure, road map, support, validation, encouragement and accountability that you need. Your coach will focus on you and your mission. Allow your coach to play the role of cheerleader -- your number one fan!
Remember, when the going gets rough, the tough get going. Your life purpose is worth the effort, for without it what do you really have? Enjoy your journey!
Every man has a religion; has something in heaven or earth which he will give up everything else for - something which absorbs him - which may be regarded by others as being useless - yet it is hi dream, it is his lodestar, it is his master. That, whatever it is, seized upon me, made me its servant, slave - induced me to set aside the other ambitions - a trail of glory in the heavens, which I followed, followed with a full heart…When once I am convinced, I never let go….
Borysenko, J. (2001) Fire in the soul.
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Kelley, Lyn. (2017) Self-Coaching in 12 Easy Steps. GROW Publications. San Diego, CA.
Millman, Dan. (2001) Living on purpose. New World Library: Novato, CA.
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Scott, Steven K. (1998) Simple steps to impossible dreams. New York: Simon and Schuster.
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-----. (2001) It's never too late unless you don't start now.
Steven, E. (2004) Wake up…live the life you love: living on purpose. Little Seed Publishing, LLC. Laguna Beach, CA
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