Have you ever felt confused about how to find your purpose in life?
No one wants to feel like their life is pointless. We all want to feel like we are having a positive impact on the world and like our lives serve a purpose.
Several years ago, I was watching a video by New York Times bestselling author, Brendon Burchard. He said something that really struck me: “You don’t find your life’s purpose. You decide on your life’s purpose.”
I love that quote and agree with Brendon completely. Too many people waste years of their life going through the motions. They search aimlessly for a seemingly elusive purpose. Here is the good news: the purpose of your life can be whatever you want. In this article, you will learn how to find decide on your life’s purpose.
Don’t Obsess About Finding the “Perfect” Purpose
Many people put unnecessary pressure on themselves to find the “perfect” purpose. They waste a ton of time and energy worrying and waiting to actually start leading a meaningful life. The stronger approach is to simply decide on a purpose(s) and start trying to fulfill it.
If and when you feel like you are ready for a new purpose, no big deal. Simply decide on a new purpose and start fulfilling that one. Or, decide on a new way to fulfill your original purpose.
Your purpose is not a soul-mate. This is not about finding “the one.” Your life can serve more than one purpose- right now and in the future. Your purpose(s) will probably also change and evolve throughout your life. That has definitely been the case for me.
My Journey with Purpose
In 2009, I made a very conscious decision to start investing more time and energy into helping other people. While I had been successful in my career, it felt like something was missing. Maybe you can relate.
The first purpose that I chose for myself was to help students and recent grads create their ideal careers after college. I fulfilled this purpose by writing my first book (titled I Got My Dream Job and So Can You), by speaking at colleges throughout the U.S., and by mentoring young people.
After a few years of focusing on that topic, I was ready for a new challenge and purpose. More recently, I chose a new purpose to help leaders and other ambitious people have more energy and less stress at work. I fulfilled this purpose by launching StrongerHabits.com and writing my second book (titled Work Stronger), by speaking at corporate events, and by mentoring leaders.
Along the way (since 2011), I also decided on a purpose to help disadvantaged people develop more confidence and discipline. One way that I have fulfilled this purpose is through volunteering with Back on My Feet (BOMF), a non-profit that uses fitness and community to help homeless people get their lives back on track.
As my example demonstrates, your life can serve more than one purpose, and your purposes(s) can change and evolve over time. Don’t obsess about finding the “perfect” purpose. Just decide on a way that you will add value to the world, and start taking action to make it happen. You can change directions at any time in the future.
As long as you feel like you are adding value to the world, you will feel like your life matters. There are an endless number of ways to make an impact and to feel like your life has a purpose.
3 Questions for More Purpose in Your Life
If you feel lost or stuck on how to find decide on your purpose, here are three questions to help you get some clarity:
- Who do you admire (and why)? Your answer to this question says a lot about the type of person that you would like to become in the future. Identify some people that you respect, think about why you admire them, and reflect on some ways that you could have a similar impact.
- What do you wish there was more of or less of in the world (and why)? We live in a complex time, and there are many serious problems in our world. Identify a problem(s) that bothers you, think about why this problem matters to you, and reflect on some ways that you could be part of the solution.
- If you could help any group of people, who would you help (and why)? While some people have more difficult lives than others, everyone struggles with something. Identify a group of people that you would like to help, think about why you care about this group, and reflect on some ways that you could help them improve their lives.
After you decide on a “big-picture” purpose for yourself, you then need to decide how you will implement this purpose in your life. Again, this is not about finding “the one.” There are plenty of ways to fulfill any purpose that you choose for yourself.
Summary and Final Thoughts
Scottish Author, William Barclay, once wrote that “There are two great days in a person’s life. The day he is born and the day he discovers why.”
Barclay is close. However, I would offer the following statement instead: “There are two great days in a person’s life. The day he is born and the day he decides why.”
Would you like more purpose and fulfillment in your life? Then, stop trying to find your purpose and simply decide on a purpose(s) for your life.
If and when you feel like you are ready for a new purpose, then decide on a new purpose and start fulfilling that one. Or, decide on a new way to fulfill your original purpose.
Your purpose is not a soulmate. This is not about finding “the one.” Your life can serve more than one purpose- right now and in the future. Your purpose(s) will probably also change and evolve throughout your life. That has definitely been the case for me.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is a consultant, speaker, and author who helps leaders and companies thrive. He is the creator of StrongerHabits.com and he’s the bestselling author of Work Stronger; Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work. Before writing Work Stronger, Pete worked as an executive recruiter at Heidrick & Struggles, a leadership advisory firm who serves the majority of the Fortune 500. In his free time, he teaches one of the largest group exercise classes in the Washington, D.C. area. He has also competed in the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Championships.