I’m a firm believer in the idea that each and every one of us has a reason for being here. Whether that reason manifests itself in creative, professional, or academic ventures — that’s to be discovered. But I truly support the idea that you are capable of finding and pursuing your purpose. Sometimes it just takes a little time (and hard work) to get there.
What does purpose look like?
Purpose, in my opinion, looks like waking up in the morning with a smile on your face because you have the opportunity to do something you love. It’s being able to surround yourself with like-minded people and have conversations about things that matter. It’s being excited—and encouraged by the things that fill your days. And above all else, it’s learning who you and what you have to offer the world matters.
Finding my unique purpose wasn’t something that happened overnight. And I think we all need to remember that. We will spend months—years, even—trying to figure out who we are and why we’re here. Sometimes that in itself is part of the process. You have to try (and fail) in order to really hone in on what you’re meant to do.
Being a writer and a teacher were dreams of mine since I was younger. But even with those initial feelings, I wandered. I spent a lot of time trying to find something financially lucrative before I ever followed my heart. (Which is actually why I advocate for heart-following as much as possible—sometimes we inherently know what we’re meant to do!) But it wasn’t an easy road. It isn’t for anyone.
But I believe finding your purpose comes from letting life speak to you, rather than trying to write the script.
Steps for Finding & Pursuing Your Purpose:
There isn’t an easy process or three-step model. There’s no single road that you take to discover who you are and are meant to be. I think the sooner you embrace this, the happier and more content you’ll be.
There are also moments in life where you’ll have to take the smartest option over the passion for a little while. And that’s okay — it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
But if, and when, the opportunities to chase what matters arise, here’s what you can do:
1. Listen to yourself (your mind + body) for feedback.
Maybe it sounds cliche to say ‘your conscience knows,’ but it’s actually true. When you’re doing something, pay attention to what emotions you experience. Do you feel positive and aligned, or exhausted and drained? Are you encouraged and motivated, or dragging your feet? When you pay attention to these feelings, you can understand, more accurately, what’s aligned. This can help you start to identify your purpose.
2. Try new things with an open mind.
Part of finding your purpose is recognizing that you have to experience different things to know what’s right (or not). Different jobs, positions, avenues — even if they end up being things you hate — aren’t wasted experiences. Each up and down, each lesson helps you to find clarity.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others.
You are not anyone else. So please, stop comparing. It doesn’t matter what someone else is or isn’t doing — what matters is that you’re learning who you are and what you can offer. Although it may be tempting to play the comparison game, stop focusing on other people and focus on what you can do to improve each day.
4. Embrace one (or a few) things and run with them.
As you try to find and pursue your purpose, you don’t want to be stuck or pigeon-holed into one thing. But don’t be afraid to embrace that as it happens, either. Sometimes trying to be too many things, or trying to diversify too much, will end up stressing you out. Channel your energy and focus on the few things that really feel right and start to build them.
5. Don’t be afraid to start over / start new.
You won’t find your purpose if you’re too afraid to fail. Part of discovering yourself is embracing mistakes, pain, wrong turns, and the natural confusion of life. Don’t settle for something mediocre because you’re scared to start over. Don’t stay static because you’re intimidated by starting new. Remember that some of the most successful people didn’t find their passions until they were older — you have time!
6. Be flexible and committed to yourself — even if it feels hard.
Your process isn’t going to be easy, but promise to stay committed to yourself. Even when you mess up, even when you fail, even when things don’t turn out how you imagined — stay focused on yourself and your goals. You have to be flexible as you pursue your passions. You have to be willing to be vulnerable, too. Commit to growing yourself (no matter how difficult the process is).
7. Focus on what you can give.
Sometimes we find our true identity when we stop focusing so much on ourselves and personal desires. Don’t see your passion as a means for money or success — see it as an opportunity to spread your gifts to the people who need them. Don’t think so much about what you want to do that you neglect what you can truly offer.
The world is hurting and we need, more than ever, to know that we’re connected. As you discover what makes your soul come alive, don’t be afraid to give that energy to others. When you focus on a mindset of gratitude, you’ll find purpose in what you can give.
And that, above all else, is fulfilling.
Featured Image Credit: Andrea Vehige