Lifestyle Enhancement #7:
[LIFE PURPOSE/LIFE'S WORK/MISSION] I have discovered my life's purpose or personal mission and have created a lifestyle that supports my pursuit of my purpose through volunteer work or financially-rewarding work.
At some point, most of us start seeking a deeper meaning and significance to our lives. Some people begin this journey early in life and others are prompted by the natural process of aging or the abrupt process of an unexpected life circumstance.
No matter how or when you begin on the path to self-discovery, you will likely spend a great deal of time trying to get in touch with what is most meaningful to you.
Those who embark on this journey early often do not have the maturity or life experience to formulate a complete understanding of what life is all about and how they fit in as individuals.
More mature seekers have the perspective and experience to understand life but are often very removed from their own likes, dislikes, desires, and beliefs after decades of serving the likes and desires of others. They may need to spend a little more time digging to get back in touch with their Core Self versus their Social Self that has been groomed by society.
The challenges we face might range from being out of touch with our true selves to understanding what’s important but being afraid to manifest it to knowing what we’re meant to do with our lives but being unwilling to risk what we have in order to do it.
Getting in touch with your own personal significance can be a lengthy process if done alone. Oftentimes, it’s so difficult to see ourselves from the outside, it’s nearly impossible to figure out exactly what our own mission or life purpose is.
Consulting someone else such as a life coach, counselor, religious leader or introspective and honest friend over a period of time can open up doors faster than pursuing your journey alone with the guidance of books, magazines, web sites and tape programs.
Although many of us pride ourselves on being introspective and in-touch with our inner selves, outsiders can frequently see those things we overlook in ourselves. Our natural attractions and strengths seem normal to us, so we are neither impressed nor enlightened by them. Others can see them for how special and unique they make us.
Getting in touch with your personal significance and, subsequently, identifying your life’s purpose or mission can simplify your life. Once you’ve outlined your path, it is easier to see what new activities, people, and things will keep you on your path and which will only serve as diversions.
It also becomes abundantly clear which elements of your current life are in alignment with your life’s purpose and which are not. In most cases, the transition from living your life on a more surface level to living it with a more directed personal mission in mind can be stressful.
You have to release things that no longer fit into your life and the process of doing so can feel uncomfortable as your forfeit the familiarity of the known in exchange for the discomfort of redesigning your life to include your newly revealed desires.
Again, it takes a lot of courage to re-design your life, especially if everything is relatively good as is. In this case, you would probably describe your life as “fine” but feel like something is missing. Yet, the unknown reward for pursuing that something missing has to compete with the perceived risk of putting your current life up for renegotiation.
This is why most people make changes in response to tragedy, loss, or major life transitions. It’s easier to risk what we have when we’re not so attached to our current life. It’s in these times – when our status quo has already been shaken to the core – that we are most receptive to making life changes. In some cases, we may feel that we have nothing else to lose.
But, you don’t have to dislike your current life to make changes to it. And those changes don’t have to rock your world. Feeling some level of dissatisfaction or “something missing” is enough of an indication that your soul is searching for something more out of life – despite the appearance that your have everything you “should” want to be happy.
Having a decent job, good health, close relationships, and sufficient income just provides the foundation for a functional life. These things don’t provide everything you need to find meaning and significance to your existence.
Discovering your personal mission or life’s purpose takes you to a level above mere survival and enjoyment of life. It gives you a sense that you matter – that the world will be different because you were here. That any actions you take along the lines of your personal mission will make an impact that lasts far beyond your years on Earth.
Many of us experience this in our children. By creating and raising healthy and happy children, we continue mankind’s existence which in itself makes an impact on the world that lasts longer than our physical life. But, in addition to this contribution, you might have an inkling that you have a greater calling and purpose – especially after your children have grown up and have moved on to adulthood.
To discover your own personal significance, you’ve got to figure out what you truly believe in and care about. Each of us has inner passions that live inside of us – many times they go unnoticed. They might have shown themselves throughout our lives when we reacted strongly to certain situations, people, and circumstances, however, it can be easy to overlook these patterns in the midst of our day-to-day lives.
So, start by sitting down and creating a list of things you believe in and care about. Don’t edit as you go along. They don’t have to make sense or be in any particular order. Just jot down the things, people, and situations that you’ve noticed elicit a strong response within you – whether good or bad.
Think about words that you like, news stories that excite or disturb you, situations that pull your heart strings, people you admire or respect, jealousies you have (these can provide strong messages for what you want for yourself), or topics on which you have a strong opinion. Include all of these things on your list.
Then, look back over your list and see if you can detect any patterns. Are there certain themes that repeat themselves within your list? For example, are there a lot of things that involve children, underdogs, creativity, wellness, emotional support, adolescents, education, etc.
Again, it might help to do this exercise with a friend, coach, counselor, or other insightful person who can help you to see what you are too close to see.
Once you’ve identified the common threads that are meaningful to you, find a way to get involved with the particular group of people or activity that you’ve discovered. This might be on a volunteer, part-time, or one-time basis. Give yourself a way to learn more about what really makes you passionate.
Continue to get involved with various groups, causes, or projects until you have come to a greater understanding of your life’s unique purpose. At that point, you might find that this might be the end in itself. Or, depending on your life’s circumstances, you might choose to devote your full-time efforts to furthering a specific cause or mission.
You’re mission doesn’t have to be “world peace” in order to have meaning. As long as it has personal significance to you, it could be opening a bead jewelry-making shop that brings the community together and allows others to express their creativity. Or it could be starting a non-profit to benefit children with a genetic disorder.
No mission is more worthy than another. You’ll know you are giving the world your best and making a lasting impact when you have created a life that has you jumping out of bed every morning excited to start another day.