Have you ever wondered what your purpose is in life? When my friend Natasha, an academic and professional life coach excitedly told me — in one sentence — what her life purpose was, I became very curious to discover my own. She just seemed so lit up and driven, and I was intrigued. While the idea of uncovering your purpose might seem intimidating, with Natasha’s guidance through the exercise below you’ll see that it’s really not.
What defines “purpose”?
You may be wondering if your purpose is the same thing as what you’re passionate about in life. While your purpose may involve your passions, it doesn’t solely come down to passion. Taking action on your purpose is what makes you feel fulfilled in your day-to-day, and as Natasha explains, “when you’re living on purpose your soul lights up with joy, you’re more consistently happy and have confidence in yourself and what you’re doing in life.” Purpose as a concept is very simple — it’s in the actualization of your purpose that it gets complicated.
Why should I uncover my purpose?
Uncovering your purpose is not just for yourself but for the world. What are you meant to contribute to others that you might not already be contributing? Having said that, the main benefit for yourself is having more direction in life and second guessing yourself less.
It’s possible that your subconscious or “higher self” (also known as one’s real self) could be guiding you in the direction of your purpose without your awareness. However, Natasha explains that after uncovering her purpose her higher self is fully engaged and at the forefront when doing something that’s in line with her purpose.
In case you’re wondering, Natasha has defined her purpose as “being the light that guides people to a peaceful inner world” — with the driving principle that what we put out into the world is a reflection of what’s going on inside of us.
Uncovering your purpose may feel scary because you may believe that once you’ve narrowed it down, you have to live up to it and everything you do has to follow suit. The truth is that opportunities will arise for you that are in line with your purpose, and each time you get to choose whether or not to take them. Your purpose can simply be the primary guiding light for your goals and actions.
At the same time, it’s important to not hold back from contributing your greatness to the world out of fear of judgement. As Marianne Williamson puts it, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Don’t hold yourself back from being powerful and maximizing your potential!
While your new found awareness of your purpose likely won’t make you fearless, it will “give your heart and soul a boost of courage to do the things you were afraid to do before.”
How do I uncover my purpose?
The simple exercise provided by Natasha below is a good way of uncovering your purpose, or at the very least moving you in the direction of uncovering it. This diagram is Natasha’s spin on a popular style of diagram that guides you toward your “Ikigai,” a Japanese term which means the balance “at the intersection where your passions and talents converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for” (Forbes). Another translation of Ikigai is one’s purpose.
It’s important in this exercise to not dismiss your ideas and passions. Be fully honest with yourself in what you write down — nothing is off limits!
- Fill in the mind map.
- Draw connecting lines in another colour to connect similar ideas and themes.
- Highlight the major themes.
- Ask yourself, in relation to the themes you highlighted, what you see the world needs that you can contribute.
- Reflect on who and what in your life contribute to your purpose and who or what do not, keeping in mind that there’s nothing wrong with relationships, jobs, or activities that do not directly contribute to it. This is simply for your awareness and to see if there are any areas that aren’t working.
- Brainstorm some actions you can take in the direction of what you’ve discovered. The key here is to take action instead of second guessing yourself and have faith that something will come up. You may even be surprised when a new opportunity arises to fulfill on your purpose that wasn’t there before.
Note: The wording or specificity of your life purpose may change over time as you move through life.
The really interesting thing about this exercise is that you may have known or discovered your purpose organically as a child. This was the case for both Natasha and her fiancé Andrew, whose purpose is "inspiring a world where people live in harmony with themselves and the planet" — a topic which he is very enthusiastic and passionate about through his own connection to the environment.
What may come as surprising is that Andrew’s full-time job isn’t directly related to the environment, though it has helped him make crucial connections to other people who have helped him take actions on his purpose. This is an example of how your job doesn’t have to be in line with your purpose, as it may be contributing to it in ways that you’re unaware of.
See Andrew’s filled in diagram below as an example of how to complete your own.
I'm happy to report that that, through this exercise, what I've narrowed down to my life purpose is giving others the tools to heal themselves naturally through simple diet and lifestyle changes in a way that is straightforward, affordable and FUN!
Looking back now, I realized that I was in tune with my purpose a few years ago when I completed my University thesis, in which I created a lunchbox kit full of tools for families so that healthy eating could be accessible and fun without breaking the bank. How cool is that?
Click the button below to download your own blank diagram:
About Natasha Nesrine
Natasha Nesrine is a life coach and enthusiastic educator. She's committed to designing a life of passion, excitement, love and gratitude. Her love for personal and professional development has grown through her teaching position at Ryerson over the last 5 years and in founding the Better Life Project.
Header image via unsplash.com