The Path to Finding Your Life’s Purpose
Imagine embarking on a journey without knowing your ultimate destination. There’s a good chance you’d fail to get anywhere useful any time soon. Plus, you wouldn’t be using your gas very efficiently!
This is how many of us live our lives–just kind of drifting through it without having any real sense of purpose or destiny. However, if you can find your life’s purpose, then you’ll be able to take more control and set a course that will result in a better life for you and your family.
But how do you go about finding your life’s purpose? Your passion? Something that will make you leap out of bed each morning with enthusiasm and vigor?
Keep reading for some tips and advice that could help…
In my last post, I talked about why getting in tune with your life’s purpose can be so important, particularly for creating your own profitable knowledge business, which we promote here at Think Beyond Boundaries. A knowledge business is driven by the hard-won know how you’ve gained from the totality of your life experience and skills, driven by a passion to help others.
How is it possible to create a business from scratch in this way? Because your life has given you a unique perspective and prepared you to help people in a certain way.
It all starts with a real self-inventory
When I’m talking about purpose, on one hand, I’m talking about looking back at your life and owning your experiences, accomplishments, training, and skills. When you look over your life, what do you know so well that you could explain everything you know about it to someone else over a cup of coffee?
Whether it’s a software you know how to use or the ability to code, a way to lose weight or build muscle, a process for resolving conflicts, how you repaired a relationship, got into grad school, became a leader in your industry, how you manage to take your family on vacation every year, how to master a sport or hobby, and so forth.
In each area of life, you’ve accomplished something that someone else has yet to do, or has an interest in and no idea how to begin.
But…I’m no expert!
If you’re feeling some resistance around the idea of teaching others because of this word we use, called “expert”, don’t worry. It’s natural to feel what professionals call “imposter syndrome.” Even those of us with the credentials to teach in a university suffer from it (the awful feeling of being exposed or “found out”)! The feeling is internal and often tied to self-confidence or self-esteem, and that’s why starting with the self-inventory and recognizing the vast breadth and depth of your experience is key to this process.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
So, if the idea of recognizing your expertise and monetizing it doesn’t make you break a sweat, that’s wonderful! Maybe skip this paragraph and keep reading the section after this one.
But for those of you who struggle with owning our power and authority, let’s talk about some things to consider to help you get over the feeling of dread:
- Remember that expertise is not about credentials, it’s about results and outcomes–the value of what you’ve done.
You can have diplomas and certificates and degrees, but if you can’t help people get the outcomes they are looking for, you won’t be an expert for long. The credential can sometimes get you in the door with a client, or sometimes get you the interview for a job (or increase the likelihood), but you’ve still got to demonstrate you know your stuff more than the next woman.
- There is something much more powerful than credentials that you can tap into to demonstrate mastery and expertise, but that’s a topic (client attraction) for another day.
- Lastly, keep in mind is that expertise to a beginner is just someone who knows more than them about something they want to learn.
- Expertise to someone more advanced could be an area (that you happen to specialize in) that they do not yet know and want to learn.
Here’s a simple 3-step process to finding your purpose
So the first step is to just inventory all that you’ve done. We describe the self-inventory blueprint you can use in our free road map on using your passions and skills to create abundant cash flow.
The next step is to review your self-inventory and identify the areas and experiences you know so well that you could talk about it nonstop, for a while. In fact, maybe you already do and your family and friends, are like, “There she goes again,” whenever you bring up the topic. (Actually, that’s a hint that you’re on to something).
It can be good to ask your partner, older children, other family or friends how you’ve helped them or how they’ve seen you help others, and what they think are your strengths. In the road map to cash flow (which you can pick up for free for a limited time), I talk about a cool way you can crowdsource a list of your expert skills from your social network using LinkedIn.
So you know what you’ve done and what you’re good at, where do you from there?
There’s another side to this, which is what moves and inspires you to get out of bed in the morning.
Some of your training and skills may be in areas you are not especially passionate about. For example, you could be a whiz at using Excel, programming macros to make tasks easier, but the idea of building a business around teaching people how to use Excel (and there are many!) might make you ill, because you don’t have a passion for it even though you are great at it.
So, part 3 of this when looking over your life is thinking about which experiences and accomplishments and skills you are most proud of. What do you equate with joy? What has made you the happiest? Often when doing this exercise, in my training, you recall wonderful moments from your past that have been all but buried. And remember, we are not just talking about your work life. Work, school, home, play, etc, from as far back as you can remember.
What if you have more than one purpose in life?
Of course you do! That’s perfectly fine and expected. We are mult-faceted, complex beings with many motivations and drivers. In fact, your sense of purpose can change over time.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that their life’s purpose needs to be just one thing. You may, for instance, think it means you need to pick a career you want, or a hobby you’re passionate about.
Most of us have more sides to us than that however. What you should aim to do instead is to find common themes in your self-inventory. Find what it is about the things you love that makes them so important to you. If you can find these common themes, then you can often uncover a deeper, underlying motivation.
Other clarifying questions you should ask yourself include:
- Who are your heroes? What do your heroes have in common?
- What things do you enjoy doing? When was the last time you felt a real sense of purpose and of joy?
- What accomplishment or recognition most fills you with a sense of pride or satisfaction?
- What is it about your approach to life and your passions set you apart from others with the same or similar experiences or interests?
Using this information, you can now begin to create yourself a guideline or core ethics. This is the seed of your mission statement–a statement of intent and a way of branding yourself so that people better understand what you’re all about. It should be no more than two sentences long.
Writing your two-sentence mission statement
Here’s a template you could try on if you find it useful (replace the words in brackets with ones that are relevant to your life):
“I help [people or businesses you serve] overcome/accomplish [utlimate outcome]. I do this by given my clients/customers a proven solution/process/resource to make the transition from/to [core transformation that is needed].”
Be completely honest here and know that there are no wrong answers. Don’t force yourself into a mold or try and choose a mission that you think is appropriate. Instead, write a mission statement that is an honest and natural reflection of who you are.
Oh, and one more thing: don’t be afraid to change that mission statement over time. We are changing people and our goals and interests evolve with time. Loyalty to an older version of yourself that you’ve outgrown will only hold you back.
If you want more detail on how to link your self-inventory and mission statement to a proven business model, check out the free road map below.