In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it's easy to get caught up in routine, often losing sight of the bigger picture. Many of us find ourselves in a constant search for meaning and fulfilment, seeking a deeper sense of purpose in our lives.
Since the late 1940’s there has been significant recognition that finding meaning in life is essential to the human experience. Of particular note, Viktor Frankl pointed out that those who have a ‘why to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’1 Further, it has also been recognised that a direct correlation exists between purpose and the impact on people’s overall well-being.2
Post-pandemic, now more than ever, finding purpose is something we all ought to be prioritising as it offers the potential to assist us in our recovery efforts. With all the chaos and tragedy occurring in the world at the moment, so many people are struggling with their mental health. Reconnecting with yourself and looking internally may offer some relief and assist you in regaining your happiness, direction and some sense of peace.
Put simply, ‘purpose’ is important because it is the driving force behind our actions, decisions, and goals. It's the reason we get out of bed in the morning and the compass that guides our life's journey. Purpose gives our lives meaning and direction. It helps us to connect with something greater than ourselves and offers us an enormous opportunity to share our unique gifts and talents with the world. Research has also demonstrated there is an immediate connection between mortality and purpose.3
While it may seem elusive at times, discovering your purpose is a deeply personal and introspective process that seems daunting at first but is relatively easy with the right tools and guidance. Here are just a few reasons to undertake some self-inquiry and start figuring out how you can align with your purpose:
Motivation and passion
Having a clear sense of purpose infuses your actions with motivation and passion. When you know why you're doing something, you're more likely to stay committed and enthusiastic about your endeavours. This drive can be the difference between giving up on your dreams and persistently pursuing them.
Life is filled with challenges and setbacks. However, when you have a strong sense of purpose, you're better equipped to weather these storms. Purpose provides the resilience needed to bounce back from adversity, as it reminds you of your larger mission and the value of your efforts.
Direction and focus
Purpose acts as a guiding star, helping you make decisions that align with your core values and goals. It provides clarity and focus, reducing the distractions and indecision that can hinder progress. With purpose as your compass, you can chart a course toward a more fulfilling life.
Numerous studies have shown that individuals who live with a sense of purpose tend to enjoy greater overall well-being. Purpose has been linked to improved mental health, increased life satisfaction, and even a longer lifespan. It offers a sense of fulfilment that goes beyond material success.
One of the most compelling aspects of purpose is its potential to create positive change in the world. When you find your purpose, you often discover ways to contribute to the greater good, whether through your career, volunteer work, or personal relationships. Your sense of purpose can inspire others and ripple through society, fostering a more compassionate and purpose-driven world.
So, how exactly can you discover your purpose?
There are structured programs based on different philosophies that you can use to tease out your life purpose. In my view, the best thing to do is engage in some simple self-inquiry. Here are four ways to get started:
- Self-Reflection: Take the time to reflect on your values, interests, and strengths. What activities make you feel most alive? What causes or issues are you deeply passionate about?
- Explore New Experiences: Sometimes, purpose is found through trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone. Open yourself to new experiences and opportunities that indulge and reveal your passions.
- Seek Inspiration: Read books, listen to podcasts, and engage with people who inspire you. Learning from the experiences and wisdom of others can help you uncover your sense of purpose.
- Set Meaningful Goals: Align your goals with your sense of purpose. When you pursue objectives that resonate with your "why," you're more likely to stay committed and achieve them.
In a world often characterized by busyness and distraction, discovering and embracing your purpose is a transformative and essential journey. It provides the motivation, resilience, and direction needed to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. If you have been feeling out of sorts post-COVID or reading the news lately and are lacking clarity or struggling to regain some sense of normality and balance, take some time to reflect on your values, explore your passions, and evaluate your unique skills and gifts. Combined, these things will provide some insight into your purpose and lead you towards more fulfilment.
1 Viktor E. Frankl 1946 ‘Mans search for meaning’.
2 Dymecka J, Gerymski R, Machnik-Czerwik A, Derbis R, Bidzan M. Fear of COVID-19 and Life Satisfaction: The Role of the Health-Related Hardiness and Sense of Coherence. Front Psychiatry. 2021 Nov 1;12:712103.
3 Alimujiang A, Wiensch A, Boss J, et al. Association Between Life Purpose and Mortality Among US Adults Older Than 50 Years. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e194270. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4270