How To Find Your Life's Purpose
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition & Job Search Coach
Have you struggled with the idea of finding your life's purpose? Finding one's purpose is pretty daunting. That's especially true if you put a lot of pressure on yourself to find it "fast." Let's face it. Figuring out your calling or your purpose isn't a trivial matter.
Where should you start?
Start by thinking about what’s important to you. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering. You are not required to change the world. On the other hand, if you were to impact the world in a positive way, wouldn't that be wonderful?
Before tackling the world, however, how about starting with something small? Find a particular cause you feel drawn to and do whatever you can to support it. Volunteer your time. Contribute to it financially if you can. Learn as much as you can about it. And share what you learn with other people.
Tune in to the "soft" voice In your head (or the tug of your heart or your gut instinct).
Listen to your intuition. Pay attention to that soft little voice in your head that tells you what you "should" be doing. Listening to this little voice can be a bit of a challenge in today’s busy and noisy world. But it is critical to your ultimate success.
Perhaps your world is so busy you don't have time to listen for that little voice in the back of your head. Your message may come in the form of a tug at the heart--a sense that you should be doing some specific thing. Or it may come as a gut check. A visceral feeling that tells you something is off and you need to make a change.
Regardless of whether you are tuned into your head, your heart, or your gut, It will be a valuable use of your time to contemplate and evaluate your core values. Spending time in meditation or prayer may help in this area. To the extent that you can, clear all the noise going on around you so you can "hear" the message trying to come through. Tune in to your heart space. Listen. Then start taking action on what you hear. That is the process I used when trying to determine my next steps after leaving my education career.
Take one step at a time.
Rome wasn't built in a day. You haven't gotten this far in your life by skipping any steps or avoiding any experiences. If you start to feel overwhelmed with this process, slow down. Chunk down what you want to do. You can only do one thing at a time and do it well anyway. So, don't try to change everything at once. If you do, this process overwhelms you, and you will want to give up.
In the first flush of your excitement about your new endeavor, you may be tempted to tackle a massive project. Don't set out to change the world all at once. As an ambition, that's okay. I would encourage you to step outside your comfort zone.
BUT, I would also caution you to try to change one thing at a time. Like creating a new habit, you need to concentrate on it until it becomes a matter of routine. No matter how small an action it may be, every little effort makes a difference in the long run. Stick with it and let it become part of you.
Your purpose doesn't have to be about changing the world--just your corner of It.
When thinking about finding one's life’s purpose, it’s easy to get caught up in some pretty grandiose visions. You may feel that you want to be the next Martin Luther King, Jr., or the next Mother Theresa. People who become recognized for their purpose, however, are not solely focused on the world. They are focused on living their purpose. If it changes the world for the better, so much the better!
Thinking that your purpose has to be this all-encompassing lifelong effort is daunting. If you feel overwhelmed from the get-go, you'll never get started.
You don’t have to dedicate your entire life to your calling.
You can make a real difference on a small scale. You can help people around you.
As I said, your purpose doesn't have to be grandiose. It doesn't have to involve changing the world. But it should change YOUR world. You should start to feel like you are living in alignment with your values.
We don't talk about integrity enough these days. But integrity is something I value in my personal life. It is a core value for me.
Part of the reason I left my career as an educator was that I had lost trust and faith in the education system. I don't believe that the standards that we use to measure kids are anything but arbitrary. I don't think they're being used for the purpose that they were initially intended. And I resent the way we test kids to death and care more about their test scores and grades than what they learn.
My disappointment in the system led to my career crossroads. I had to make a hard decision. I could leave my career prematurely or push myself to engage in activities I didn't believe in. At the end of the day, it wasn't a hard decision at all. I need to be able to sleep at night and look myself in the mirror in the morning.
There was a time when I felt in alignment with my work as an educator. When that stopped being the case, it was time for me to move on. During my search for a new career path, what I realized I was searching for was my NEXT purpose. And thankfully, I found it.
My purpose is about helping other people find their purpose.
That is why I do what I do now. I help burnt-out, stressed and unhappy teachers who are ready to leave the classroom to explore what they can do instead.
If you feel you have fallen out of alignment with your purpose, perhaps we should talk. I may be able to help direct you to some resources that would assist you in figuring it out.
It won't cost anything but 20-minutes of your time. Who knows? It may help you find the clarity that you need about what your purpose in life is.
Until next time.