We’ve seen how knowing our purpose helps us to succeed in a changing world.
So how do we find out what our purpose is?
Some people just seem to know the answer. But for the rest of us, the best way I know to uncover a life’s purpose that we can start to follow and then refine and improve as we go is to follow the following four steps.
Begin by answering these three questions:
- What are your two best qualities?
What are the two best qualities you bring to the world? Not skills or knowledge but qualities.
(If you find it difficult to pick just two, ask some trusted friends. Listen to their answers, keep what you like, ignore what you don’t. And then pick the two qualities you think best describe you: qualities you love to express and which summarise the essence of who you are.)
- How do you love expressing these qualities?
Next, describe how you most love putting these qualities into practice.
(You might do this in terms of the way that you like applying your best qualities or the outcomes you love to create. Describe this in whatever way works for you.)
How do you most love to express your two best qualities?
- Describe your ideal world
Finally, what would the world be like if it were perfect, according to you?
What would you see, hear, feel, taste, or smell?
What kind of a world is that?
What does a perfect world look like to you?
You don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming. You actually have to do the exercises and gradually get better.
So if you want to find your life’s purpose stop now.
Don’t read any further until you’ve answered these three questions.
Once you know your answers, finding your life’s purpose becomes easy.
The purpose of your life is to express your best qualities, in the ways you most love doing, in a way that creates what an ideal world looks like to you.
So take your three answers to the questions and put them in that order:
The purpose of my life is to express [your best qualities], by [doing whatever it is you most love doing], in order to create [what an ideal world looks like to you].
How does that feel?
You might like change the order and say:
“My purpose is to create [my ideal world], by using my [best qualities], [in the way I most love using them].”
The three questions provide the basic building blocks of purpose, the core essence, so take your three answers and arrange them in whatever way works for you.
Play with the wording until you find a way to express this in a way that feels right to you now. (You can always improve it later as you learn more.)
The purpose of your life is to most fully express the unique person you are, in ways that create the kind of world you want to live in.
Once you know your purpose you’ll discover that there might be a thousand ways you could put it into practice. And as the world changes, this makes you more flexible to adapt and grow. You might be doing different things but they could all be working to achieve the same purpose.
Which parts of your life today are you living most in line with your purpose? Which parts are you living least in line with your purpose? Which do you enjoy most? Which bring you most energy? What small changes could you easily make to shift the balance — giving you extra focus, energy, and enthusiasm (and changing your genes so that you become healthier and live longer)?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
(The book contains more tools that will bring you deeper insights into your purpose, but this post is a simple starting point.)
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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)