It is the New Year, a time of reflection and resolution. A time where you may be asking yourself, “What is my purpose in life?” If this sounds familiar, please honor me in helping you find your purpose.
Explore the Things You Love
Let us begin to explore your passion and purpose by outlining what you love doing and what comes easy to you.
I love to coach, advise, consult, facilitate and develop transformational workshops. Most of all, I love bringing teams together for discussions and co-creating new approaches to our work. I invested many years in learning to master Executive Coaching skills. It was not easy, but I loved every second of it. We know it takes work to develop your talents – even the most gifted athletes must practice before their sport feels natural to them.
I spent the first 20 years of my career attempting to master technical skills before finally admitting to myself that I would never enjoy Technology for the sake of Technology. However, at the same time, I experienced the ultimate joy of helping businesses apply the technology and leading Technologists in finding their path to success.
If you are constantly struggling, you are most likely not living your purpose. In other words – hard work may be required, but suffering is not! A mentor once said to me, “If you keep butting your head on the wall and it hurts, you may want to stop and find a way around the border.” You get my point.
What Is Most Meaningful?
First, ask yourself: “What are the two or three qualities I most enjoy expressing in the world?”
In the past, I focused on love and joy. Today I have expanded love to “grace.” To me, grace is going out of our way to gift love, compassion, and kindness to others, even when they might not appreciate it or return the favor. Grace must start with me.
Second, ask yourself: “In what ways do I most enjoy expressing these qualities?”
Mine are by inspiring and empowering people. I love my job as a Coach.
Create a Life Purpose Statement
Everybody lives their highest vision of doing, being, and having everything they want in my perfect world. Create a life purpose statement by taking 30 minutes to write or draw out your description of what the world would look like if it were perfect in your vision. This vision will provide you with a clear idea of your purpose.
My life purpose statement is “Inspiring and empowering people to live their vision in a context of joy and grace for themselves and others.”
I inspire people with my stories in articles and posts and share them in coaching sessions. I empower others by helping them to discover powerful success strategies that they can apply in their own lives and on the job.
Listen to Your Heart
What if I told you that you already have it within you to find your path forward?
It can be thought of as your inner GPS. Your internal GPS is similar to the GPS used in your car or on your phone. It tells you how to get from point A to point B.
When you get in your car and head to a specific destination, what is the first thing you input into your GPS? Your intended destination. The navigation system figures out and plots a perfect course for you. First, it finds your current location and once it determines where you are, it gives you directions to where you are heading.
Okay, it might not always be perfect or the most scenic route, but it always gets you there. All it needs to know to work is your beginning location and your end destination. From that point on, all you must do is follow the instructions to reach your intended goal.
It is the same in life. To start, you need to determine your goals – where you want to go, where you want to be. You decide where you want to go by clarifying your vision, then you lock in your destination through goal setting, affirmations, and visualization. At that point, start taking the actions that will move you in the right direction.
Every time you express a preference for something, you define an intention. What is it that you want – a promotion, a home in the country, a loving relationship?
You “input” the destination you want to get to with every picture you visualize. All these images and thoughts are creating the foundation for a positive mindset. If you stay out of its way – meaning you do not interrupt the process with a stream of negative thoughts, doubts, and fears, your inner GPS will keep relaying the next steps in your route as you continue to move forward.
As you clarify and remain focused on your vision (you can even do this with a vision board.), the exact steps will keep appearing along the way in the form of internal guidance – helping to create ideas and new opportunities.
Be Clear About Your Life Purpose
Once you are clear about what you want and stay focused on it, how will you keep showing up? Sometimes or just when you need to and not a moment earlier?
You were born with an inner guidance that tells you when you are on or off course by the amount of joy you are experiencing. The things that bring you the greatest joy will align with your purpose and get you to where you want to go.
As an exercise, take some time to think honestly and openly about where you currently are in your life and what you want to do with your life.
Now think about where you would like to be. If your life were perfect right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like? What would be different? What kind of job would you have, and where would you live?
By continually doing this exercise, you’ll send powerful triggers to your subconscious mind to help you get there.
Think About the Greatest Joy in Your Life
Another technique you can use to help you identify your purpose is to conduct a “Joy Review.” I pattern the concept of a joy review on this article I found a couple of years ago in Prevention: How to Find Joy in Your Everyday Life (Even When Life Feels Awful)
Set aside about 30 minutes and make a list of the times you’ve felt the greatest joy in your life. Then determine if there is a pattern among these times.
In my case, I realized my “pattern of joy” came from leading large-scale, exciting programs with large teams where I was able to inspire and empower the team members to go for their career dreams. Today I recognize this same joy in every Client’s success and the feedback from their Sponsor.
Since we know that joy is part of your internal guidance system telling you when you are on course, you can determine a lot about your life purpose from completing this joy review.
An Example of Finding Purpose
One of my coaching clients, a successful CIO, struggled to identify her purpose beyond her role as a corporate leader. I suggested another exercise and asked her to look back over her life and answer the question, ” When have I felt most fulfilled?” She shared three periods in which she felt the happiest and most fulfilled.
First, she told me about her grandmother teaching her to bake and sew while a young girl in the Midwest.
The second was her experience of playing with her grandchildren and the delight they bring her.
The third was a two-week camping vacation with her family in the Rocky Mountains when her children were younger.
When I asked her what was common to all three of these experiences, she told me it was the sense of joy she felt and the love for those she experienced it with.
We noticed that none of her three experiences related to her profession in IT. I then asked her to tell me about her most fulfilling experiences as an IT leader.
The stories she recounted were ones of individuals she watched grow under her mentorship and observing teams coming together to deliver results that were considered to be impossible. She learned her true purpose and personal success came from seeing those she had the honor to mentor and lead, flourish.
Take Time for Yourself
As we examined her life further, it became apparent that she took very little time for herself. She was always working late and over-committed. I asked her why she thought that was the case. She paused before answering, “Because it is expected.”
My further questions probed deeper into the true ‘why” which helped the problem to become clearer. Over the years she developed the habit many are cursed with – “Just one more.” Just one more push, just one more meeting… “Just one more” will make a difference until that is all we know, leading us to lose ourselves along the way.
The turning point was when I asked, “At what cost?” She reflected quietly before emotionally responding, “At the cost of my marriage and the relationship with my children.” And then she asked, “Is it too late to make a change?”
I assured her it was not too late and that anyone could change if their “why” was strong enough. We continued our session, penetrating her why and discussing tactics and approaches for gaining control of her time, calendar, and life.
Your Purpose is your North Star
We all know what we’re supposed to be doing, but we must be awake and pay attention to it. Once you know your life purpose, allow it to be your North Star, your guiding light, and organize all your activities around it. Everything you do should be an expression of your intention. If an activity or goal doesn’t fit that formula, don’t work on it!
Aligning your purpose with your actions is most critical when setting professional goals, potentially giving you more flexibility in your personal life. Either way, learn when to say no and when to go for it with gusto!
If you want to learn to play the piano or learn to golf, go ahead and do it! Get help and take lessons where needed. If your goal is to get fit, what stops you from moving forward with confidence? Caring for yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually will make you more energized, resilient, and motivated to live your purpose on the personal and professional front. Only you can take action. Own it.
If you dread Monday mornings and live for the weekends, it may be a sign that it’s time to follow your heart and pursue the work you long to do. Don’t ignore the signs that your job or career is unsuitable for you. Now is the time to seek help in figuring out your alternatives.
Lean into Your Purpose
When you have gained more clarity about your purpose, you don’t need to overhaul your complete life all at once. Instead, lean into it, one small step at a time. Start living a little more purposefully every day and pay attention to the feedback you receive from others, the results you produce, and how you feel. Soon it will feel as natural as riding a bike.
We all have dreams and ambitions. There is no better time to start acting on them than now. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you where you want to be?
- Have you accomplished what you set out to achieve by now?
- Do you enjoy your life?
- Do you look forward to your workweek?
- Are you satisfied with the balance between work and home life?
If not, I challenge you to take stock of your life and reach for the stars. Everyone can cultivate success and discover their life purpose with the right mindset. You deserve it.
Happy New Year,