Purpose is an incredibly strong tool. In its presence, you can create the life of your dreams, but in its absence, you might find yourself struggling to ever achieve anything of value to you. I’ve pondered a lot on this topic so I decided to write a post about it. I’ll guide you through 3 ways of finding purpose in life!
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The difference between purpose and meaning
Purpose and meaning are easy to get confused about and for good reason. These concepts are closely linked, as you’ll soon find out, making it difficult to always see what’s what.
So, what’s the difference?
Meaning is described as being humanistic and psychological. This means that there is meaning attached to events in your life, whether in the past, in the moment, or in the future. This also means that you’re able to change the meaning that is attached to something and that you’re able to interpret those meanings in various ways.
In short, meaning is the intention, value or benefit you ascribe to something.
Purpose in life is more so focused on action and is about what you do to give something meaning. In other words, purpose is how you bring value to something. This means that they are connected and shows that meaning precedes purpose.
Some people might argue that there can be purpose without meaning, which I agree with to some extent. However, that’d make this post more difficult than it already might be. I’m here to give you straight-up, actionable advice, so I’m keeping it relatively simple.
You can also look at meaning as your ‘why’ and purpose as your ‘how’.
Here’s an example to illustrate the difference and how they are connected to each other:
My meaning in life might be to ‘’help people live a life that they’re happy to live every single day.’’
The value here is helping people live a happy life and it’s also my ‘why’.
A purpose that’s connected could be to ‘’be a coach to everyone who’s seeking to live a happier life.’’
The action here is coaching people who are looking to live a happy life and in doing so, you bring the value of your meaning into practice. This also shows the ‘how’ to your ‘why’.
These examples aren’t perfect, but do allow you to see how these concepts play together.
Why do you struggle to find purpose in life?
This can be a very difficult question but often comes down to relatively simple things.
I personally think that one of the big reasons we struggle with finding purpose in life is because we have lost touch with ourselves. Think about it, we used to live without all these technologies and ‘advancements’ like social media, television, and name all the other things that heavily influence our lives nowadays.
Whether you like it or not. They have a HUGE impact on our day-to-day lives and, in general, not in a positive way. All these distractions have led us to become blind to our senses and our innermost being.
We barely spend any time with our thoughts nowadays. So the only logical thing that would happen is that we don’t know what to do with them anymore, resulting in less and less time with our thoughts.
These things, in and of itself, make the journey to finding purpose in life WAY harder.
Another thing that might make you struggle with finding purpose is that you’re simply trying too hard.
You see these images and stories of successful people with an extremely clear purpose. It might leave you thinking ‘’why don’t I have one, is there something wrong with me?’’. Possibly making you try too hard to find one. Wanting something very badly is never a good thing. It will only make you desperate, pushing away that which you’re trying to attract.
Some early advice: detach yourself from the outcome. Not just with finding purpose, but with anything in life. Try new things and don’t worry if it works out alright. You’ll eventually get to where you’re supposed to be. Trust the process!
Absolute no-go’s for finding purpose in life
Before I present ways for you to find your purpose, you should know what you should absolutely not consider to be your purpose. Some of these things might sound obvious to you, but it’s not as common as you might think.
So, topics to avoid:
- Being popular/having status for the sake of feeling good about yourself
- Acquiring material things (unless you’re something like a mechanic and you need those to practice/work)
- Becoming wealthy for the sake of being wealthy (financial independence is a different story depending on the underlying goal/intrinsic motivation attached)
- Getting laid all the time
Just make sure you avoid, shallow, surface level bullshit. These things won’t make you happy and are not a true purpose to pursue.
That being said, let’s get to how you can go about finding purpose in life!
3 ways for finding purpose in life
1. Use your meaning
As we saw at the beginning of this post, your meaning can provide you with a purpose. So now the question is ‘’how do I find my meaning?’’. Well, it’s not as difficult as you might think. As I like to say with a lot of things ‘’it’s simple, but not easy.’’
Values are largely what give meaning to your life. So you’ll have to discover your core values and out of those you can write down your meaning.
Here are some questions that can help you to identify your core values. Ask yourself ‘why’ after every one:
- What experience in my life has left the most vivid and emotional memory?
- What is your favorite saying or motto?
- Who do you identify with most?
- What did you love to do as a child?
- What makes you angry, maybe even furious?
- Why do I envision my future the way I do?
If you’re not sure as to what exactly constitutes as a value and what not, Google a list of values. You’ll get enough suggestions there.
Simply write down whatever comes to mind and don’t think too much about it. You can always scrap things that don’t really seem to resonate with you.
When you wrote everything down, try to narrow it down to 5 core values. Out of these, write down a meaning that you deeply resonate with. Then translate it to a purpose as we covered in the beginning!
2. What makes you happy?
What do you deeply and intrinsically enjoy doing? You might also add ‘that others don’t enjoy doing’. This question doesn’t only get you closer to finding your purpose in life. It also allows you to find a lucrative path to follow!
Try to think of activities that make you forget time. Activities that get you in a flow state. Also, think of how you can offer true value to other people’s lives and make a difference in the world through these activities.
Write this stuff down!
As you might have already guessed, finding purpose in life isn’t always as easy as following a step-by-step process. It requires reflection and introspection.
That’s why these questions are not meant to be answered immediately. Let them sink in, let your mind do some work, write down whatever comes to mind, and reflect on that.
Trust me, you WILL get closer each time you put some time and effort into this!
3. Start doing
Again, it’s simple but not easy. Anyone can find excuses for not taking action and that’s exactly what most people do. They often don’t even notice that that’s what’s holding them back. But not you. Don’t let yourself be taken down by inaction upon your dreams and simply start doing!
‘’If you throw enough shit against the wall, some if it has got to stick.’’
And that’s why you should start trying different things in order to find your purpose in life. Don’t let failure knock you down. Having failed is knowing you’ve tried and that’s what truly matters here. With every failure, you’ll get closer to your life’s purpose.
In the end, how will you truly know if something’s right for you when you haven’t tried it?
That’s why this might just be the most important part of finding purpose in life. Get okay with struggling sometimes and allow yourself to fail. I really can’t emphasize this enough.
It’s a tough mindset to internalize, but it might just be the most influential one you could ever adopt.
If you don’t try, you’ll never find your true purpose.
Some things to take note of
Finding purpose is never about reaching an end goal. It’s about finding things you love doing while you’re doing them, not for what you’ll eventually get out of it.
‘’Enjoy the journey, not the destination.’’
It’s a cliché, but it couldn’t be more true.
Another thing is that finding your purpose isn’t really possible. I can hear you thinking ‘couldn’t you have told me this before, now I wasted all this time reading your post’. Hold up, let me explain.
Just as is the case with your meaning, it can change and develop over time, which is perfectly fine. It might not, but it likely will. The same goes for your goals, vision, habits, and possibly even values as well. It’s all okay. Simply readjust and keep moving forward.
The most important thing is that you’re looking for the things that give meaning to your life and provide you with a sense of purpose. Whether they are changing or not.
Also, when you’ve ‘found’ your purpose, you will know. Everything that has to do with that subject will simply feel incredibly right to you. You’ll think about it every day and it’s most likely the reason you wake up in the morning.
Do you really need to be finding purpose in life?
The short answer is no. But that will leave you second-guessing everything I just said (again). The truth is, you don’t need to. Because if you’re too set on finding a purpose in life, you might just forget about everything else important that’s happening around you.
Your family, friends, career, etc. When you get sucked into a desperate state of thinking that you need to find a purpose, you’ll only push it further away. Detach yourself from the outcome. Allow yourself to do everything at your own pace and, again, trust the process!
So, you might benefit greatly from your search for a life’s purpose, but you also might not. This is something you need to decide for yourself as well. Do you want to live intentionally and guide yourself by finding a purpose? Or do you prefer discovering where the river of life will take you?
There’s no right or wrong, you do you!
If you need some more guidance with this topic, I’ve got a free e-book for you!
The Path To Power will help you do exactly what it says; break free from mediocrity and design a life of purpose. It’s actionable, it’s clear, quick, and easy to understand. You’ll be learning more about how to get your body, mind, and bank account in check.
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Anyhow, thanks a lot for sticking with me to the end. I hope you enjoyed this post and if you did, be sure to follow me on Twitter as that’s where I’m most active.
If you have any questions or comments, send them my way. I’d love to connect!
Have an amazing day, until next time!