He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how – Friedrich Nietzsche
Is not knowing your life’s purpose a huge weight on your shoulders? Does thinking about your purpose make you cringe? Would you rather avoid the question completely?
If you answered yes to any of those questions then I feel you. I’ve been there.
I’ve laid awake countless nights desperately trying to piece together what I’m meant to do with my life. I’ve regularly gone to work with a miserable attitude because my life wasn’t a slight resemblance of what I wanted it to be.
I’ve chased money and success to discover that it left me with nothing but emptiness.
I’ve felt what it was like to desperately crave a clear picture of who I was and what I wanted out of life.
For what felt like an eternity, all I knew about my “purpose” was that I wanted to be passionate in my work and feel proud of what I did every day. I knew I wanted to feel creative, help others, study life, have fun, and bring good to the world in some way.
This ceaseless ‘purpose craving’ left me with nothing but a distaste for where I was in the moment and anxiety because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
In this post, you’ll receive four steps to help you stop worrying about your life’s purpose.
But first, I want to discuss why the motivational advice ‘find your purpose and do that’ has the potential to cause more harm than good.
Where the advice to ‘find your purpose’ falls flat:
Where the advice to ‘find your purpose’ falls flat is failing to talk about the hard truth that your ‘life’s purpose’ may not hit you until your 45. What needs to be highlighted is the fact that each person has their own timetable, and it’s okay if you haven’t yet figured out a hobby you enjoy outside of partying.
It’s also okay if you’re someone who has many passions and purposes. You might not end up like Tony Robbins, an example of someone who committed to a single purpose and put massive effort toward it for a long period of time.
Those are the recognized achievers.
You might be a floater with many purposes, or you might be a person with a humble purpose.
Either way, all that matters is that you’re doing what lights you up.
In doing more of what lights you up, you inevitably share that light and inspire others to do the same.
Below are four steps to help you STOP worrying about your life’s purpose, and create the self-confidence to know you will get there.
1. Stop overwhelming yourself with questions that you’re not able to answer yet
It happens all too frequently- you see your dream vacation home, maybe you’re lucky enough to stay in it for a weekend or two. You admire the people who own it and wish to be like them someday. You then look at your own life and become instantly discouraged by the distance between you and your goals.
What you tend to forget is that the owners of your dream home didn’t get there overnight. They consciously made tiny decisions in each moment to lead them to their end goal.
If you shift your focus from asking huge questions to improving your life in each moment, you’ll notice that there are plenty of questions you can answer now that will place you in the right direction.
Also, an important fact about anxiety is that it’s generally caused by either living in the future or worrying about the past. Being prepared for the future helps relieve stress, but when you start feeling anxious about the future, it means you’ve spent too much time there and it’s time to shift your focus to the present moment.
Look at your life at this moment.
What are some small ways you can improve it?
Now, what is ONE small thing you can start doing now to improve your life?
Do that one small thing consistently, until you are ready to add another.
If you can’t think of a small improvement, consider how you can introduce more happiness and presence into small daily moments.
The act of simply bringing your unique presence to a moment is all that is needed to make a tiny moment more beautiful.
2. Make long-term AND short-term goals
The sheer power of goal setting is incredible. But, the key to optimizing your ability to achieve your long-term goal is the practice of setting and re-working short-term goals.
Create long-term goals that are crafted around who you dream to be and a life that will fulfill you.
Create short-term goals that surround your current state and what you can do to improve it.
Assure that your short-term goals are taking you a step closer to your long-term goals.
When you choose your goals, make sure to choose in favor of your passions or interests.
Food for thought: I use goals and intentions interchangeably. If you prefer, replace this section with “set big intentions and small intentions”.
3. Create your personal mission statement to help keep you on course
Companies create a mission statement to be the framework for each and every decision.
The businesses that flourish are those that effectively create a mission statement and apply significant efforts to relay the message to the public and to each new-hire.
Their mission statement is their guiding light through a storm and the framework of their business.
In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey puts a spin on the mission statement and suggests that we should all create personal mission statements.
Think about it, why wouldn’t our individual lives flourish while being guided by a deeply crafted personal mission statement?
It’s a powerful tool to help assure you haven’t lost sight of who you aspire to be and the life you’re working to have.
Plus, it’s a solid foundation for all of your goal setting.
If you haven’t heard of a personal mission statement before, you can read this article for guidance on creating a personal mission statement.
4. Do more of what intrigues you
Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives and are filled with a burning desire to do nothing but accomplish it.
For the rest of us, it takes more time.
Sometimes looking at people who are confident in their vocation can be overwhelming because it reminds us of the fact that we have no idea what we’re meant to do.
If you have no idea of where to start then simply lean into the things that intrigue you.
What do you spend time researching?
What interests you?
Lean further into it. Learn more about it.
Doing more of what lights you up will open doors that were once brick walls. (I think that’s a Joseph Campbell quote? Can anyone help me there?)
What I wish was communicated to the people who gave up on searching for what they love to do, is that incorporating the SMALL action of doing more of what you like will assuredly lead you to find something you love.
The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove. – Samuel Johnson
I hope this helps. If you enjoyed, then scroll down to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss a post.