“The person without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” ― Thomas Carlyle
When these factors interact, we experience personal satisfaction, knowing that we are contributing to something larger than ourselves. As such, purpose is closely linked to a sense of direction and meaning, which produces contentment and fulfillment in our lives.
Why should I have a purpose in life?
- It shifts us from being unmotivated to passionate
Having a purpose gives us clarity. Most of us like knowing the direction that we’re heading towards– in spending time to make clear what we are working for and why we do the things we do, we can better plan our tomorrows and set progressive goals towards a direction we are excited about. This ultimately minimizes feelings of being overwhelmed or disconnected, as we minimize the unknown and are clear of where to start.
Our decisions may also become easier to make, as we evaluate them according to the degree to which they align with our passion, strengths, and societal needs. As we make decisions and commit to our goals in this direction, we begin to find life more fulfilling, and less mundane or meaningless. This sense of knowing and working towards a clear goal is extremely satisfying; it is living according to our calling.
- It keeps us anchored during tough times
It is true that life is not always smooth-sailing and it springs surprises on us from time to time. Having a sense of purpose helps us to persevere and remain resilient because we look beyond our current situations and work towards something compelling to us in the future. Without a purpose, we are focused on the present hurdles and suffering; with a purpose, we are hopeful for a better future, and have the motivation to overcome current challenges.
How can I work towards finding my purpose in life?
“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes
1. Craft a list of the hobbies, tasks, and values that matter to you
- A good fit occurs when our values, passions, and strengths coincide with the needs of society
- Make time for reflection
- What are your core values and how do they guide your decisions in life?
- What brings you the most satisfaction out of the things you are currently doing?
- Try out new things and refine your knowledge of what really matters to you based on what you have experienced
- Seek out volunteer opportunities and try out new experiences.
- Talk to people in these places to see if you are a good fit with the culture and goal of the activity or organisation.
- This will help you develop a social network of people who share your common interests and make your experiences more meaningful.
- Identify areas of your passion that coincide with something you are naturally good at.
What if I don’t have a “big” purpose in life?
Perhaps you’ve looked around and seen how many people have big and noble dreams – and you look within yourself, only to find that you have very different perspectives. Here’s a reminder that that is okay.
It’s okay if our purpose and what we want to live for is different from what others’ purposes are. What matters more is what you think is most important to you and what you think defines success and meaning in life. While we might inevitably compare our purposes to that of others’, we should keep in mind that there is no such thing as a purpose that is right or wrong, better or worse. Just like how everyone is born different, our purposes can be different too.
“Your purpose must be particular to you. This is the road less traveled. Your purpose cannot be someone else’s path, not your family’s path nor your friends’ path.” – Drew Scott Pearlman
Gaines, J. (2021). The Philosophy of Ikigai: 3 Examples About Finding Purpose. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved 9 July 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/ikigai/