Mirror mirror on the Wall, What's my Purpose after all...
How do I find my purpose and meaning in life and career?" asked a young lady during a recent workshop. It got me thinking about my purpose and how I have thought about it and searched for it in my life experiences... That became the inspiration for me to write this blog…
For me, purpose need not be greater than life or grand themes like “serve humanity” or Mark Zuckerberg’s charity initiative to “help cure, prevent and manage all diseases in our children’s lifetime” It’s fantastic to come up with a great, grand purpose but it might not be a reality for many of us.
“ A man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is who he is asked” - Viktor Frankl
Here are a few points to consider as you unfold your purpose…
It's not about the tangibles
Before you look in the mirror, I want to clarify something…Your life’s purpose is unique to you and it cannot be tied to the tangibles like making a certain amount of money, achieving a certain job title or level, driving a particular car or living in a certain neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, all these tangibles are great to have and might be valuable to many, but these are purely goals and successes individuals want to achieve. Happiness in these situations is tied to a tangible outcome. Purpose is above that. Purpose tends to transcend the tangibles and is about becoming the greater version of yourself and possibly for the betterment of the society and in service to others.
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” - Michelle Obama
Look in the mirror
We tend to look externally to get ideas and inspirations for our life. While, it is perfectly ok to do so, it's only a piece of the puzzle and we cannot get a full picture with just the external factors. The shift comes when we look in the mirror and look inside us to see what brings us joy and what sets our hearts on fire. Here are some self-reflection questions to ask yourself to identify your purpose (Download the Purpose Self-reflection Exercise in the resources section)
What brings you joy?
List the activities/ tasks that put you in the zone, make you lose track of time?
What are the 3 most difficult life experiences that shaped who you are today?
From your perspective, what are your greatest strengths?
If you asked your close friends, what would they say are your greatest strengths?
What is one thing that matters most to you with regards to giving back to the community?
At this moment in time
In the past, I have considered living by my values and wanting to make an impact as my purpose; I have also realized that our purpose and passion may take new directions over time, depending on the situation. It is important to do the above self-reflection at least every year or after a major life event to identify and align with the purpose at that moment in time. Let me give you an example. For a fresh college graduate, purpose for his life might be to get into a dream job so that he can make his mark and make a difference in the corporate world. For someone suffering from a serious illness, his/her purpose might be to live in the moment, manage the symptoms and focus on the things that can be controlled in the situation. For me, purpose is to continually develop myself and share my journey to inspire others and make an impact through this blog. So, as the famous author Viictor Frankl says, “ the meaning of life is unique to each moment; no situation repeats itself”. Don't be afraid to continue to assess and adjust your purpose.
It’s all about the work
Finally, once you have identified your purpose, it's all about being consistent and putting it into action. Understand that the sweetness of this process is to enjoy the journey as much as the end destination. Use the worksheet to answer the questions below to guide you to take the proper actions to align with your purpose.
What is one action that I can take every day/week to continue to move the needle with your identified purpose?
What am I trying to accomplish with taking a specific identified action?
What does success look like when the actions are completed?
Once you self-reflect and identify the things that “light you up” and put things into action, there is no limit to the impact you can make in this world! So don't shy away from the mirror of self-reflection!