There is this heavy question we tend to ask ourselves over and over throughout our lives, whether we’re 10, 25 or 60: What should I be when I grow up? This question bears an immense weight on our souls and more often than not, it creates quite a lot of stress, heartache and confusion. It is such a big passion topic of mine, one which I can talk on and on about for ages. You see, not long ago, I myself was plagued with the same recurring nightmare questions: Why am I here? How can I achieve my fullest potential? What is my purpose in life?
A purpose or a purposeful life is living with passion, doing what you love and making an impact in the world that in turn gives you a sense of fulfillment. Now, I want to say that you don’t have to be living your purpose 24/7 until you die to be fulfilled. Part of the problem with the concept of a “life purpose” or why it carries so much weight to it, is because us humans believe that once we find it, all our problems will magically be solved. The idea that we were each born for some higher purpose and it’s our cosmic mission to find it at all costs can also be very stressful and confusing.
Questions to Find Your Purpose
I think to avoid feeling the weight of the question “what is my life purpose”, you should instead be asking, “What can I do with my time on Earth that is important and I’ll enjoy doing?” This question eliminates the baggage of a “life purpose” being the end all, be all. Plus, it changes your mindset so you can actually find it.
1. What Were You Passionate About As a Child?
When I was a kid, I really liked writing. I loved it. I didn’t keep a diary of my life, rather I wrote short stories here and there and even started a novel. I never showed anyone, I just did it out of pure joy. It wasn’t until I started blogging that I remembered how much I loved it. We all have this tendency to lose touch of our childhood dreams, of what we loved to do when we were innocent and worry-free. Something about social pressures and adulting makes us forget about our passions. What is that something in your life right now that would make the kid in you beam with pride? What would leave 8 year old you in complete awe?
2. What Makes You Forget About the World Around You?
Have you ever done something where you loose track of time? Maybe you were painting, writing, talking to a friend and suddenly it’s 5 in the afternoon and you forgot to eat so you skipped breakfast AND lunch. Oh! Also you we’re so transfixed by what you were doing that you took no bathroom breaks and it didn’t even bother you? That, my friend, is called being in ~flow state~. Whatever keeps you up all night (in a good way) can start pointing you in the direction of your purpose.
3. If You Had Financial Freedom, What Would You Do With Your Time? Where Would You Go?
Imagine you’re a billionaire! You never have to worry about money ever again. You have a couple of houses, cars, everything you ever wanted, you even set up your family to be comfortable till the end of time. What’s next? What are you so passionate about that you still want to do when money isn’t an issue? Take Kylie Jenner for example, she was already pretty well off, famous, technically didn’t need to work a single day in her life… Yet she built a million dollar business based on her passion for make-up. Where would you invest your time?
4. What Issues or Topics Could You Talk About For Hours?
What do you have infinite information on? Something that sparks so much passion in you that your friends tend to get tired of hearing you go on and on about… Maybe it’s something as simple as coffee, or as complicated as a new programing language. No matter what, you know that when you hear a certain topic, your heart starts beating a bit faster and you almost instinctively want to raise your hand to add in your two cents, old-school style.
5. What’s Your Favorite Flavor of Shit Sandwich?
Everything sucks some of the time and nothing in life is totally perfect. I heard this really cool interview with Marie Forleo and Elizabeth Gilbert about eating the Shit Sandwich and it rang so true with me. The gist of it is this: What struggles are you willing to put up with some of the time in order to do what you love? What determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the shitty days that come with it. What’s your flavor of shit sandwich?
6. How Are You Going to Save the World?
The world is full of heart wrenching problems. I’m not saying you have to drop everything, squeeze into a super suit and go out to save every living soul. Just find a problem you care about and start solving it. It can be as easy as starting a new line of socks where 5% of sales go to a cause you care about deeply, or it can be something like offering design services to help other humans start their dream businesses. Obviously, you’re not going to fix the world’s problems by yourself, but you can contribute and make a difference even if its only in one persons life. That feeling of making a difference is ultimately what’s most important for your own happiness and fulfillment. So what problems can you solve well? What are some ways you can help others and bring value to their lives?
7. If You Knew You Were Going to Die A Year From Today, What Would You Do? How Do You Want to Be Remembered?
Thinking about our own mortality makes us put our life into perspective. What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? Do you want to be the person that spent all their time on the couch binge-watching Netflix? What is your obituary going to say? What would you like it to say? How can you start working towards that today?
Discovering your purpose in life essentially boils down to finding one or two things that are bigger than yourself. It’s about living a life of joy and love while spending your time on this Earth with intention. You don’t have to save the world to have a deeper purpose, you just have to live your life well.
What question helped you most in giving you clarity? Share your story with me in the comments!