After food, shelter, and community, one of the most basic human needs is meaning. To feel truly fulfilled as human beings, we need to feel like we contribute to the world in a valuable way. While many people just go through the motions of life, most of us need a sense of purpose to truly be happy. But how do we create purpose in our lives, especially amidst the busyness of our modern world?
Follow Your Bliss
This sage advice from mythologist Joseph Campbell still rings true. If you are not exactly sure what you should be doing with your life, pay attention to what makes you happy. Pay attention to what makes you feel the most alive and gives you the feeling that you are exactly in the right place. These are clues to your bliss, to your true purpose.
Make Joy a Priority
Living a life of purpose can get pushed to the wayside if we are always preoccupied with jobs, entertainment, and mundane responsibilities. When we first invite more purpose into our lives, we have to guard our time fiercely. We need to make the pursuit of personal fulfillment and joy priorities our primary priorities. We need to carve out every precious moment possible to focus on what really matters.
Pay Attention to When Its Easy
If you have not yet clearly defined your purpose, you may need to follow clues like a treasure map until you understand why you are here. One way to develop a greater understanding of your purpose is to notice when you feel in the flow. Notice when whatever you are doing feels natural and effortless for you. When you are really connected to your purpose you may be engaged in a challenging task, but it will not feel arduous because it is aligned with your reason for being alive.
Notice Where Your Excellence Lies
Along similar lines, think about your strengths, gifts, and talents. The things you might take for granted about yourself because they are such a part of you. The things that you excel at without really thinking about it. Then explore how you can do those things with more intention.
Discover What Is Important to You And Do It
Sometimes asking about your purpose can be crazy-making because it is such a nebulous idea. But ask yourself what matters to you. What do you most want to do with your precious life? Now go and do it. Being purposeful means actually doing the things that are important to you.
Listen to Your Friends
Sometimes we cannot see ourselves fully. But a true friend can reflect your light even when you have no clue. Instead of just dismissing compliments from your friends, notice what they notice. Pay attention to how your friends introduce and describe you to other people. They may be providing clues to your strengths, talents, and purpose.
Consider What You Want People to Remember About You
At the end of your life, will you want people to talk about how many hours you worked at your job? What contributions do you want to stick in peoples memories? How do you want to be eulogized? While a bit morbid, thinking about how we want to be remembered can inspire us to actually make the contributions we want to offer to the world.
Ask What Is Important to the World
Very rarely are our true purpose is just about ourselves. If you are uncertain what to do with your time, think about what is needed in your community, your town, and the world. Keep it simple; you dont need to (nor could you) do everything. Choose one area of impact that feels important to you and fills a clear need in the world, and make a meaningful contribution in that arena.
Remember Your Nine Year Old Self
As adults our sense of purpose can get clouded by the day-to-day drudgery of life. But most children know exactly what they want to be when they grow up. Think back to your childhood. What were you most excited to do, to become, to share with the world? How can you reconnect with those ideas, and make your 9-year-old self proud of the adult you have become?
Let Go of Everything Inessential
Sometimes connecting to our deepest Yes requires saying No to everything else. It might mean fewer nights watching television or playing on social media. You might have to look long and hard at your priorities, and cut some activities out of your life, to make space for what truly matters.
Humans are creatures of purpose. However distracted we might get by the details of life, we are meant to do what brings us joy and contributes to the world. Developing purpose in your life means paying attention to what really matters to you, making it a priority, discovering your bliss, and following it.