I work with and know most people who want a life with meaning and purpose, not just a life of merely getting by… Well lived, meaningful lives. However, this isn’t something we’re taught in school, and many of us aren’t sure how to proceed. …but I’d love to speak with you about how to move in that direction.
You should take the first step toward finding purpose in your life by dedicating yourself to it. Do you think that is important? Is it more important to have comfort and safety right now or are you willing to move into uncertainty for this? Committing requires guts. Decide that you must invest yourself, your time, and your practice in this. Put your commitment in writing. After that, to others.
Secondly, if you don’t already know what your purpose is, you could embark on an adventure to discover it. It’s not as simple as asking, “What would I like to do?” or doing a google search for the answer. The best way to approach it is to bring a sense of adventure to it.
To explore purpose, I usually recommend the following method:
Think about what you might find meaningful – helping children in need, combating stress, travelling to help communities in need. Don’t limit yourself to just possible or interesting items on the list; anything goes. Hint: In my experience, helping others with something you care about is the best way to find real fulfilment.
Ask yourself which 3-5 of these would be most meaningful. If one really stands out — maybe it’s the thing you’ve been wanting to do for years — then that’s where to start. But maybe you’re not sure, so pick 3-5. This is your shortlist.
Pick the one that feels right to you from those choices. When in doubt, ask a friend or choose randomly. Here you are not offering your final response, but just one you intend to begin with.
Make this top option available for two weeks. For example, could you help 1 person via video call and e-mail for two weeks if you wanted to help them with stress? This is a miniature version of your potential purpose. Spend 2 weeks with this, really immersing yourself in it.
I would recommend making a one-month version of it if it resonates with you. Otherwise, choose something else on your shortlist. Try it for two weeks. Continue searching until you find something that you’d like to explore for at least a month.
Using this method you can explore purposes iteratively. During the trial period, a mini-version is tried. Maybe a little longer. Until you come up with something, keep doing this.
Be aware of whether or not you’d rather avoid the process, or if you’d prefer to participate. You are showing your fear as a result of uncertainty. Totally fine, but ask yourself if you would like support with those uncertainties, so you won’t be stopped.
A Well-Lived Life
Life can be lived to the fullest extent possible. It could be a meditation on a mountain or enjoying simple pleasures. Maybe you’ll spend time with family or explore culinary delights. If you want to listen to music or read all day, you can do so. Perhaps you finish your work and feel satisfied with your work.
Making some small difference in another’s life (or a big one) feels truly meaningful. There’s much more to life than simply travelling or enjoying good food or having fun. Although they’re all great, they don’t feel as meaningful to me as they would to you.
A well-lived life becomes simple when you find something like that, which feels meaningful:
- Make time for your loved ones.
- Keep yourself healthy.
- Take time to appreciate life’s joys.
- You can serve others meaningfully by serving yourself.
The solution is simple, but difficult at times. And that makes it even richer.