Hello again, and welcome to day five of the virtual self-development conference. If this is the first article you read in this series, I recommend to go back to the introduction and to day 1 where I kick off the conference and establish some ground rules.
Imagine a Venn diagram with three parts. We already have looked at two parts, namely your strengths and your passion(s). Today, we will take a look at the final piece, and the one element that has the power to provide us with almost unlimited amounts of energy and motivation: Purpose.
What is a purpose?
I looked up some definitions and I very much like the one I found from dictionary.com. They define purpose as:
- the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
- an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
- determination; resoluteness.
Those are powerful words and the indicate the importance of having a purpose in our life. They also use the word “design” at some point. Maybe I am misinterpreting it, but I think that you can design your life in a way to find/have purpose. This means that it is in our own hands again. What a beautiful but also terrifying thought. Beautiful, because it means, when found, that we contribute to something bigger than ourselves (and what we consider as being bigger than ourselves is also up to us =)). Terrifying, because it can be a difficult and dark time when you are looking for a purpose, knowing that it’s you who has to create it for yourself, but not finding it. And that is also something I experienced, and still experiencing it to this day. That is why it is also for me very interesting to write this article =).
A purposeful life is great. You know why you get up in the morning, and it is a great source of energy, confidence, and strength. Already Friedrich Nietzsche stated that “he who knows why can endure any how”.
But before we start with today’s exercise, I want to add something. Maybe you already know it, then please bear with me. A purpose can be “small” or “big”. You decide what is meaningful to you. Not somebody else. If raising children is your purpose, that is great. If writing poems, drawing pictures, or acting is your purpose, awesome. If cleaning hotel rooms, serving as a waiter/waitress, or serving others in any other way is your purpose, thank you very much! =) This also means that, we have no right to criticize or ridicule somebody else’s purpose in life.
And now, to today’s exercise…
Materials needed: pen, blank paper or your notebook, and enough rest and foot that make you feel good =)
As I said earlier, the only one who can define and determine your purpose is you. That is why it doesn’t make too much sense to ask your friends and family. However, if you struggle with the task, maybe they see something that you are overlooking.
Today we start with your “River of Live”. In your life story, where can you find hints that point toward your purpose? Especially, what does the second part of the exercise reveal? If you envision your perfect life, bets are good that you have at least touched on something that is your purpose.
I invite you really imagine this future live again. What can you see, feel, smell? Who are you with? Where are you? If something makes you feel especially well, dig a little deeper, why it makes you feel so good. Maybe it is related to your purpose.
Afterwards, you can answer one or all of the following questions:
- what matters (most) to me?
- what gives me the sense of doing exactly the right thing, doing exactly what I am meant to be doing?
- in which things do I see meaning?
- what do I often think about?
You can look at your different areas of life, like family, love, work, hobbies etc.
You can also have a look at your values, strengths, and passions again. Together you might be able to define your purpose. This is also the last part of the exercise. Write down a few sentences that define your purpose. If you are still unsure and all you write down is vague, that is fine. At least you started to go in the right direction =).
You can check if that what you have written down is meaningful to you, by reading it out loud or imagining it in all its facets. If you feel good, congratulation =). If you don’t feel any different, check whether you ate, drank, and slept enough today, or if something else is interfering with your emotional state and maybe repeat the exercise tomorrow.
I hope this exercise will bring you closer to your purpose. In any case, let me know in the comments, or write me a mail. I am always curious how those exercises are for other people.
Have a wonderful day and take care, Stephan