It is a sure way to lasting happiness.
One of the keys to a life of meaning is understanding your purpose. Your purpose is that action in your life that really brings you alive when you perform it.
For most people, your purpose is most often expressed in your career. Or maybe
you may have volunteer or recreational activities that express your purpose.
Once you understand your purpose, you can focus your attention, time and efforts in that direction.
One of my clients is a talented executive coach who also does significant work in preparing and presenting trainings. Over time, she came to realize that the part of her work that is the most meaningful to her – and uses her greatest skills – is developing the training classes. They are always clear, concise and make an impact on each student.
Recognizing her passion for curriculum development allowed her to focus her work choices more in that direction and increased the meaning that she finds in her work.’
Self-Awareness and Contemplation
In order to really know your purpose, you need to be continuously monitoring yourself. Self-awareness and contemplation are critical to the process so that you actually notice and understand your own reactions to different activities.
You need to know your motives, interests and talents.
What do you honestly do better than most people?
You also need to know yourself well enough to understand how you measure success.
What are the criteria that let you know you have succeeded?
It’s a mistake to think you can just do some work once and find your purpose. Although there are some people who knew in childhood what they most wanted, for most people, it’s a process of experimentation over time that leads you down the path to your purpose(s).
Your Purpose Can Change
You will also want to realize that your purpose can change over time.
For example, I have known many women whose purpose was related to their career until they had a child and then the new purpose became stay-at-home parenting.
My own history gives examples of other changes in purpose – understand that as I was living through this, I had repeated instances of my “dream job”, and all were very different.
Upon leaving college, I became an environmental scientist. After a decade of that work, I returned to graduate school and became a counselor. First I worked with teenagers in school settings, later with groups of women with substance abuse problems and most recently with couples in conflict. Finally, I added coaching and help people live lives and run businesses with more adventure. There were five or six purposes along the way!
There is no one “right answer” to your purpose.
The idea of increasing your happiness through your purpose requires you to find activities that make you feel like you can’t wait to be able to do them. Look for what makes your heart sing. You can’t help but impact your happiness if you do that.
What makes you come alive? Leave your comments and ideas of your purpose in the comments below.