As a coach, mother, and mentor, I’ve been asked this question several times and I’ve lived enough years now to know that the best answer is, “It Depends.” I have a daughter who drew houses from the time she could hold paper and pen and is fulfilling her purpose by being an architect. Another daughter, as a child, loved to play, “Let’s Go Shopping,” where she set up a cardboard box to ‘sell’ select goods to her customer (her sister). This daughter has spent many years in retail stores, from managing stores to managing their accounting books. In that way, they found purpose at work which was not far from their playtimes. As a child, I often played “School” with the kids in the neighborhood where we took turns playing teacher and students. My purpose became a lifelong fascination with learning as well as teaching. Yet, these were not the only things in our lives that gave us purpose. I have also seen that our definitions of purpose can also change and give way to new dreams as we move through the stages of our lives.
My experience with ‘purpose’ is that it can become a guiding light in times of difficulty, in times of change, and in times of feeling lost or of no value to others. I have had to visit it more than once in my life and yet there have been some strong themes that run central to my definition of purpose. For me, those themes are family, service to others, and lifelong learning. Those themes to my purpose have never changed, yet what I do in work or life has varied. That’s the “It Depends” part of purpose in life.
What Gives You Purpose?
How do you explore your purpose and what contributes to a purposeful, soulful life for you? Below are thought-provoking questions to ponder if you are eager to put on your explorer persona to dig a little deeper into your purpose in work and life. How will you answer these? If you feel a little daunted, I follow the questions with a few activities that can help you with your journey of exploration.
- If I could, I’d like to make the world a better place by…?
- I’d jump right out of bed every morning with excitement if I knew I could get up and …?
- My fondest memories in childhood involved…?
- What would I regret not fully doing, being or having in my life?
- When I am active and lose all sense of time, what am I usually doing?
- Autobiography: Write a short story about your life. Play with the past, present, and future.
- Interview those who knew you at different stages in your life and ask what gifts of yours seemed most apparent to them.
- Build a collage of images that represent what you’d like in your life.
I’m hoping you’ll have fun using a few of these as you take a journey to deepen your understanding of yourself and how to live a memorable and meaningful life. Nothing is set in stone in your life, so make choices according to what you feel you are meant to do. The Universe is quick to show you when a path is closed or if you need to navigate around what seem to be obstacles. And lastly, believe in yourself and in what is possible.
Feel free to reach out to me with your comments or a quick question. Enjoy your journey!
“Whenever you become anxious or stressed, outer purpose has taken over, and you lost sight of your inner purpose. You have forgotten that your state of consciousness is primary, all else secondary.”