By Mary Jaksch
What’s your mission in life? Do you feel that your life has a special purpose?
I think every life has a meaning. But it’s hidden. If we never find it, we may feel that we’ve missed our life.
Luckily, there is a pointer that can reveal our purpose in life. This pointer is passion. Passion is a central power of the soul. Finding our passion means connecting all the parts of our being and feeling the special energy that can transform our life.
Steve Pavlina – who is arguably the most successful personal development blogger on the Internet with more than 2 million visitors to his site each month – has written some fascinating articles about finding the purpose of life. He said in a post named Passion vs Self-discipline:
Passion is simply an emotional state, and a temporary and unstable one at that. The reason passion gets so much credit is that it helps motivate action. And action is what generates results.
I don’t agree with Steve Pavlina on this point. And he himself wrote in another article:
Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about.
True passion is a wellspring of energy that drives our life, and aligns it with our ultimate purpose.
There is a lovely ancient word for ‘life purpose’. It is the word ‘calling’. A calling is an inner urge to pursue an activity or perform a service. We are called to develop to our highest human potential.
One my readers wrote to me recently and asked:
“Does my mission have to be huge? Does it have to change the world?”
“No,” I answered. “It just has to change your future, and your life.”
The purpose of life can be found in unexpected ways, as the following story of Yarra Amoroso shows.
Yarra – a talented artist who was struck down with Multiple Sclerosis at age thirty-two – found her purpose of life as she was lying helpless in hospital after a severe attack related to MS. At that time she spoke the following into a dictaphone:
“The strongest thing that kept coming was, “What a blessed life!” I was just dissolved into gratitude. I would never have guessed in my thoughts or visualisation, ‘Aha, this is why I came. This is it: I came for gratitude!’”
Yarra discovered that gratitude was her purpose in life! And she focussed on that purpose until she finally died eleven years later. She had a profound effect on all who knew her. A family member wrote after her death:
Yarra gave me the opportunity to see life in the raw and it its splendor, and to be a vital part of it. I am grateful for the gift of life, hers and mine.
You can see by this example that finding our true purpose transforms not only our own life, but the lives of those around us.
How can you find the purpose of your life?
Steve Pavlina asks in his interesting article The Meaning of Life: Discover Your Purpose:
How exactly are you supposed to define your purpose? Are you simply supposed to know it and squeeze it out of your brain like a sponge? What if you can imagine several different missions that might fit you, but you have no idea which is better? What if you can’t think of anything at all that seems meaningful to you? What then?
He came up with an interesting method. In his article How to Discover Your life Purpose in About 20 Minutes he suggests the following:
- Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster).
- Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
- Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
- Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.
Yarra gave me that opportunity. The opportunity to see life in the raw and it its splendor and to be a vital part of it. I am grateful for the gift of life, hers and mine.”
I’m not so sure that we can just sit down and come up with our life purpose in twenty minutes. However, I think Steve’s step 4 is important. When we finally find our true purpose, it touches us deeply.
In my own search, the following fifteen questions led me to find the purpose of my life. You may find that they work for you too.
It’s best to work your way through the questions one at a time, coming back to the task again and again, until you have completed all fifteen questions. Make sure you have a notebook at hand to record your answers.
1.What is your greatest barrier to following your dream? What is it that holds you back? Fear of failure? Fear of ridicule? There seems to be no opportunity? Do you think you lack talent?
2. How do you label yourself and how does that restrict you? This question reveals another barrier to finding your life purpose. What kind of labels do you stick on to yourself? Check out in which way these labels hinder your development. Are gender, age, talent or other issues a limiting concern for you?
3. What drives you? When you’re relaxing with friends, what do you love talking about? Is there a theme that makes you feel animated?
4. What interest or passion are you most afraid of admitting? Maybe it’s something you think other people might scoff at. Or maybe you fear that your passion sounds too grandiose?
5. What hidden clues does your home reveal? Walk around your home as if you were a detective. What clues to your passions do you find? What do the photos or pictures on the wall reveal? What about books or mementos on the shelves? If you did not know this person, what would you guess about his or her passion in life?
6. What did you want to become as a child? What childhood dreams did you have about your life?
7. What are your strengths? What are you particularly good at? Some psychologists take of signature strengths that make us who we are. Check them out here and then write down your top three strengths.
8. What do you want to be when you grow up? Forget for a moment that you’re an adult. Close your eyes and ask yourself what you want to be when you grow up. Immediately write down the answer – without analysing. Most likely the answer will surprise you.
9. What do you secretly love about yourself? Sometimes what we like about ourselves isn’t what we are particularly proud of. Be honest and write down what you like about yourself.
10. What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Fear of failure stunts our dreams and actions. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
11. How would you like to make the world a better place for yourself and others? This question teases out your aspirations. Aspirations are the stars by which we walk our path in life. What are your aspirations?
12. What would you do if money was no barrier? Dream big for a moment! What would you love to do if you had all the money you needed? Would you travel the world? Or build an eco-house? Or help people in need? Or start a business? Or build an empire? Or study?
13. What would you regret on your deathbed if you hadn’t done it? Imagine that you are dying. What would you feel you’ve missed out on? What would you regret not having done?
14. What would be the smallest step towards your folloing your passion? If we look at the whole mountain we want to climb it just seems too difficult. The secret is to start walking. Action is the key to success. And it is also the key to good fortune. See if you can chunk down your passion into just one small step. What would that be? How could you take this first step today?
15. Who will be your support person? It can be hard to make big changes on your own. Maybe you have a trusted friend you could talk to? Or maybe you would like me to support you?
Once you have completed all the fifteen questions. Take some quite time on your own and slowly read through the answers. Notice which answers leap out at you. Highlight the ones that give you a sense of energy. Then compare the answers that you highlighted. Now underline those that ring true for you. You can follow this process of elimination until your just have a few answers left. Is there one amongst them that brings you to tears?
When I completed this exercise I was left with this:
My life purpose is:
- to continually grow and develop as a human being,
- to cultivate kindness,
- to help others reach their full potential.
What is your life purpose? Please share with us what you have discovered.