After reading Dr. Marcia Reynold‘s article on PsychologyToday, I decided to rewrite this post to give it the clarity and justification it deserved.
Her post title Living a Good Life Without Purpose caught me off guard initially. I have to admit I am quick to judge as I was having thoughts that she is encouraging people to live aimlessly. (I need to get rid of my bad habit of making premature judgments. Read my article on breaking bad habits here) Is she not going to address those who have acquired wealthy but still feel a certain emptiness in their life? What about teenagers these days who seek purpose in everything they do, including life itself?
As I read further, I understand that some people are exactly happy with the way they are, and the ongoing hype of “Having A Purpose” becomes a burden to them. In this case, I truly agree that they should not be reading articles such as this.
And I agree with her well-delivered point that sometimes over-anxiousness in finding our purpose could be counterproductive instead.
As such, what I’m going to write below is only for those who felt they need a life purpose for them to be fulfilled. So what I’m writing here is for those who can’t answer this:
It is never too late to question your purpose in life. If you are in your 20s or 30s and start wondering what’s life all about, rest assured, you are not alone. It seems that this is such a common issue that so many books related to life purpose are created out of it. A quick check on Amazon shows almost 100K hits on books related to life purpose.
If you are on Facebook, just check out the occasional laments by young people questioning their life purpose or the lack of them. If you pay attention to their posts and comments, you would see how uninspired and aimless many of them are. (And that’s only for those who are vocal on social media)
Call it a quarter-life crisis or mid-life crisis. The fact is, I’m hearing people lost motivation in their jobs. I’ve seen people getting into depression. Existential Depression to be exact if you want to go by the technical term. According to Dr. John M Grohol’s post at PsychCentral, existential depression could happen when people come face to face on issues regarding life, death, freedom and the meaning of their existence.
Well, I guess if you are still clueless (as I was back then) about what your life purpose is, then let me tell you this.
Well, with the exception of few, your job is normally not your purpose in life. Remember when you were enrolled in your college. Some thought they want to be a programmer and they went for an IT course. Some end up in the banking industry. Some made big money and live comfortably. But 80% never felt truly happy what they do.
Do not confuse your ROLE and your PURPOSE. Your job is your role to play in society. It is your means of making a living. Whether it is your life purpose or not is secondary. But getting bills paid is definitely good enough purpose for survival.
Finding your life purpose is not about quitting your job. It is about finding the balance that keeps you fulfilled in life. Sometimes the responsibility of feeding the table clashes with those of living your purpose. If that’s your case, this article from ThePerfectJob has a very good article about People Expressing Their Purpose Through Their Job.
There is about 7.4 billion world population as I am writing this. Each and every individual is unique. So are their purpose in life. Therefore, I believe the way to unearthing life purpose is unique for each individual. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa.
So let’s take a look at what Adam Leipzig, a movie producer has to say about discovering life purpose in this TEDxMalibu talk.
I was checking out the comment on the Youtube and I found contrasting views on his talks and methods. But for me, that NOT really the point. The point is when you answer to question like “What do you love to do? and “How they change as a result?” without really putting much thought into it, you are actually answering from your heart. And it normally knows the best for you.
Here’s another post from StevePavlina that uses a similar method to clear your head of social conditioning to get your truest answer on your life purpose.
Your purpose in life is already within you. All these methods are just a way to make you aware of it.
I wish I did a Google search on methods of finding life purpose two years back when I’m really searching for an answer to this big question. If I did, then I probably would have found some guidance that could help me. Well, for some reason, I didn’t do so and I have to find my purpose on my own.
When I began my own quest to discover my life purpose. I didn’t really know I was in the discovering process back then.(Well, realizing you are living without a purpose is pretty disorientating) But looking back, there was a few processes that I’ve undergone that helped me to discover my purpose in life.
You go to work, get your paycheque, pay bills, and probably watch some movies. And you repeat this day in day out. If it is not done with any solid purpose behind, soon it becomes nothing but a blur of noise.
When your daily routine becomes noise to you, then you need to stop creating the noise. You need to take a break from everything. Perhaps you do not realize the power of solitude, but that’s where all the important realization happens. If you have doubt on the benefits of spending time alone, then check this very good post on the power of solitude.
Some people go for a meditation retreat. Some just go for a solo travel trip. Either way, when you spend time away from the familiar routine, your priorities become clearer. Knowing what’s more important in life is a good start in discovering your purpose in life.
You are what your belief defines. That’s who you are today. And if you feel you lack a life purpose, then look into your belief system. Are you told that you need to be a doctor, an engineer or that life is about doing what others are doing?
This advice is often given as guidance and they serve you well in the early part of our life. But it is your responsibility to move on and grow from there. It is your responsibility to discover yourself and see what you believe you hold true to. Don’t take others belief as your own. Find yours.
Your existing belief limits your view and your potential to grow. For you to realize your true purpose in life, you need to move beyond your existing belief. This article on ZenHabits talks about getting out of your personal bubble. To me, that’s about getting out of your existing belief system.
These false beliefs had to go. I did an extensive energy healing program to clear these beliefs off my subconscious mind. And guess what, because some beliefs have been there for decades, it takes months to be totally rid of them.
This is the one thing that gave me the ‘aha‘ moment that I really know what I must do to have a purposeful life. I was working on a couple of community projects back then(if you must know, I’ve been busy chasing the money trail back then)
One such group that is big on community projects is Dance For Love Malaysia (which I have the privilege to join and give back to society) where they gather dance enthusiast and gave back to the society.
If you experience joy in your service to others, then maybe your life purpose is about making a difference to others.
Can you incorporate this into your job and live your purpose through it? Definitely. When you start shifting your mindset that your job is ONLY about paying the bills, then your purpose shines through.
Or you can always start an initiative running your own community projects to help those in need. After all, I’ve been told that “Life is a service to humanity“(I can’t see how it could be true back then)
Some people thought that after you’ve found your life purpose, your life would be easier. But that’s the totally wrong idea. Finding your purpose in life has nothing to do with making your life easier. Sometimes it means taking the tougher path. But you get stronger from serving your purpose. That makes the journey easier.
What do you think about finding your life purpose? Have you found yours? Do you need one? Share with me in the comments below.
I am an engineer-turned-writer who once struggle with social anxiety. After overcoming problems inflicted by low self-esteem and the fear of interaction, I realize the need for taking a holistic approach in developing our mind. I'm sharing my experience, remedies, and techniques that interest me in my quest to be a better self.
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