Have you ever had one of those days (weeks, months, years) where it is hard to get motivated? You can't seem to tap into the reserves of energy, determination or courage that you have inside. It is difficult to tap into those reserves if you do not have a mission that is clear or goals that are not compelling. If your focus in not laser-like, you will never be able to tap into your true potential. The power of purpose helps you focus your efforts on what matters most. It compels you to get your ass up, take risks and drive forward regardless of the obstacles.
If you are like the rest of the human race, you crave more from life than mere survival. If you have no purpose why do you want to survive? If you can't answer that you will quickly fall into disillusionment, distraction and a quiet sense of despair. The US has an alarming increase in rates of drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide, along with the growing reliance on antidepressant medications. This would seem to indicate many have not found their why.
‘He who has a why can endure any how.’
- Frederick Nietzsche - German philosopher
Knowing your 'why' is an important first step in figuring out how to discover and achieve the goals that excite you. Creating a life you enjoy living rather than just fighting to stay alive. It is the power of discovering your 'why’ that will give you the courage to take risks, stay motivated and give your life a reason for more than survival. You begin taking control and loving life.
There is no single way or path to walk, to discover your life’s purpose. There is as many paths to walk as there are people. However, each step takes us closer or further from who we feel we should be. You must walk to the intersection of your talents, skills, passion and deepest values to find your life's work.
Ask yourself and reflect on the corresponding four questions below to help find the ‘sweet spot’ that sits in the intersection between what you care about, what you can contribute, and what will be valued most. Your purpose is there just waiting for you to find it. It belongs to you, no one can take it. It has your name on it.
1. What makes you come alive?
In other words what inspires you? What makes you come alive? What breaths life into you and gives you purpose? It's bigger than a dream vacation or meeting someone of importance. It is not about you. It is bigger than you. It connects with your passion, aligns your focus and puts a fire in your belly.
If you are not standing up right now with flag in hand and a battle cry in your throat, that's OK. This is about discovery. Take time to discover what you connect to that is bigger than you and is congruent with who you are, what you care about.
2. What are your innate strengths?
Don't be modest. Once you discover what your talents and skills are, you then connect them to your passion. At that point, world watch out, you are in your element! When people are in their element they are not only more productive, but they add more value and enjoy more personal and professional fulfilment.
What are the things you’ve always been good at? This should not be easy! If it is you are not looking hard enough. Are you able to see patterns and opportunities amidst complexity? Are you creative, naturally adept at coming up with ‘outside the box’ solutions? Are you a natural born rebel with an innate ability to identify where the status quo is in need of a change? Are you brilliant in the details, naturally good at executing projects with a precision that some find tedious? Or are you a naturally gifted communicator, technocrat, diplomat, networker, leader, problem solver or change agent?
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
- Howard Thurmon
3. Where do you add the greatest value?
Be careful. Just because you are good at something doesn't mean that you actually like doing it. If you hate doing what you are doing but you are good at, this won't lead you to fulfillment. So find out what strengths you have that can add the most value to your passion, then focus on the opportunities, roles and career paths where you are most likely to succeed and helping you achieve the greatest sense of accomplishment and contribution.
Too many times we overlook strengths because we undervalue them. Ask yourself what you’re well suited and equipped to help solve in your workplace, career, organization or industry. You can also ask yourself what problems you really enjoy solving, and what problems you feel passionate about trying to solve. You’ll then be more successful at focusing on your natural strengths and those things you’re innately good at than trying to bolster or eliminate your weaknesses.
4. How will you measure your life?
This is the the question that has destroyed many people. How do you measure life? Most measure life against the Jones'. Be very careful with this question. Take your time in pondering. Making sure the answer comes from you and you only. That it is pure and untouched from outside influences. People who don’t stand for something, easily fall for anything. Deciding how you want to measure your life means making a stand for something and then living your life in alignment with it.
This answer is the breath to your new life. Once you discover the ruler that measures your life, you are in the position to trade the security of a regular salary in order to pursue a passion. Many are to afraid, at least not in the short term, to trade their current security for their passions. No matter what path you are walking now, you can draw meaning from it, and find greater purpose through answering these four questions. Once you discover the answers, other paths begin to open up and you find that you are not on a single path heading nowhere, but you are on a freeway of choices!
Knowing your purpose can compel you to take on challenges that will stretch you as much as they inspire you. Go out and get it!