Do you know why you were born?
Like, why are you here? What did you come here to do?
I recently kicked off a new personal development MeetUp group and our first two meetings – Powering Up Your Purpose (Part 1 and 2) – brought to light a pretty universal theme:
👉 Most people don’t know their purpose, and yet everyone longs for it.
Some people might not even know that purpose is what they’re longing for.
But what they’re longing for is exactly the thing that purpose brings into our lives:
💥 Feeling lit up, and living a life that feels directed, fulfilling, and deeply aligned with who we are.
I was in that same boat up until the last couple years and I’ve previously written about how I ultimately found my purpose in the work I’m doing now after experiencing a nervous breakdown in 2018.
💡It was a process of following a trail of breadcrumbs…a trail of small things that lit me up…that eventually led to bigger and better things that lit me up. You can read that story here: https://soulfireshift.com/how-to-find-your-purpose
In my experience, finding your purpose is an evolutionary process.
You have to figure out who you are…what’s meaningful to you…and what natural gifts you possess that can take those things that are meaningful to you and turn them into actions.
Figuring that out takes time and life experience. You can’t force it.
🍎 It’s like that saying: “fruit falls from the tree when it’s ready”.
Fortunately, though, we can help the process along by doing some introspection. There are places we can look within ourselves that hold clues about our purpose.
One of those places is in the activities that light us up, as I previously wrote.
Here are two more:
1️⃣ Personal Values
Your personal values are one of the key components that define who you are. And, as I mentioned above, finding your purpose is inextricably tied to knowing who you are.
Your values are like a set of boundaries that establish a clear delineation between you and other people. They establish what’s important to you, what you stand for, and what’s ok with you and what’s not ok.
👉 This is why we end up feeling like a doormat, or like we’ve lost a sense of who we are, when we let our culture or other people override our values.
Without those boundaries, it’s like you’ve erased yourself and blended in with whatever other people think is important. Like mixing water and pancake flour, there’s no clear outline of what makes you a separate, unique entity.
Now, I think most of us could look at a list of personal values and agree that they all hold some meaning for us.
⭐️ But what makes you unique is the degree to which you find something important.
For example, most, if not all of us would agree that justice is an important value. But how important is it to you? Top of the list? A 10 out of 10? Or maybe a 3 or a 5 or a 7?
How about personal dignity…civic consciousness…creative expression…kindness…empathy…getting paid a fair value for your work…respectful communication…learning…expanding…caring for others…health and wellness…reliability…honesty…joy…fun…autonomy…determination…stability…leadership…or experiencing new things?
How do each of these rank for you?
🤷♀️ If you’ve gotten to a point where you’re not even sure which values are most important to you (I’ve been there), then look to the areas that cause you the most pain.
Steven Hayes, the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), recommends asking yourself this question:
🔥 “What would I have to not care about in order for this not to hurt?”
For example, maybe you’re in an unfulfilling job and that causes you pain. In order for that not to hurt, you would have to not care about doing meaningful work.
👉 Doing meaningful work is your value.
As another example, maybe you’re in a relationship where your partner doesn’t pay attention when you’re speaking. In order for that not to hurt, you would have to not care about feeling seen and heard.
👉 Feeling seen and heard, especially within a key relationship, is your value.
One more example: perhaps as an entrepreneur, you have a ton of ideas for your business, but you haven’t implemented one of them.
Maybe it’s a fear of failure…or a lack of clarity around which one to pursue first…or you’re stuck on how to overcome a particular obstacle. Whatever the reason, not bringing your ideas to life is causing you pain.
In order for that not to hurt, you would have to not care about the creative expression of your gifts and your own self-actualization.
👉 Creative expression and self-actualization are your values.
Taking the time to get clear on your most important personal values will help you understand yourself on a deeper level. It will help you start living in a way that’s more aligned with who you truly are.
⭐️ And since your purpose is a function of who you truly are, getting clear on your values will naturally get you closer to discovering your purpose.
For me, some of my top values include courage, authentic connections, leadership, community, creative expression, having fun, and championing and cultivating individuality.
All of these are at the heart of my coaching business and my MeetUp group.
🔥 My business and my group are the actionable expressions of the values that are meaningful to me.
2️⃣ Look to Your Past
Looking at our past can give us clues to our purpose. When did you feel most “in flow”? When did you feel most lit up? When did things feel easy, even when you were working hard? When in your life have you gotten so deeply involved in something that you lost track of time?
For many of us who end up lost, that time could be early adulthood or even childhood.
If you had asked me those questions prior to these last couple of years, I would have said high school.
🥳 In high school, two of my favorite activities were cheerleading and student council.
Unlike most schools, being a cheerleader wasn’t the cool thing to do at our school and, for a while, we didn’t even have an official cheer team.
That being said, our student body had a ton of school spirit so when we didn’t have a cheer team, I would just jump down in front of the crowd and start leading cheers. Eventually I led the push to put together an official cheerleading squad and cheered on that team.
In student council, I was President of my freshman class, Co-President of my sophomore class, Secretary of my junior class (though I took on a lot of the duties of the President, like putting together the prom), and I was Student Body President my senior year.
🥰 What I loved about all of those activities was building a sense of community…creating fun events…bringing out the best in people…being a leader, which always came more naturally to me than being a follower…and having the opportunity to bring my creative visions and ideas to life.
✅ When I look at what I’m doing now with my MeetUp group and my coaching business, it checks every single one of these boxes.
For you, maybe the time you felt most lit up in your life was when you were writing poems or painting or drawing as a kid.
Maybe it was when you were building your science fair projects in junior high…or when you volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in college…or when you worked on a cruise ship and traveled the world in your early 20s.
When you look back, don’t get tripped up by thinking your purpose has to relate to the way you make money and dismiss your memories as “unrealistic” for your life today.
- First of all, your purpose may or may not be tied to the way you make money.
- 🧐 And second of all, what you’re looking for right now are just clues about what you loved and why you loved it.
Like getting clear on your values, getting clear on when you felt most lit up in your life…what you loved about the activities you were involved in…and why it felt so meaningful to you will help you get to know yourself better.
You can then start to seek out activities that have those same qualities, or if nothing comes to mind, just let that knowledge sit in your soul and percolate.
Like fruit that’s ripening on the tree, sometimes we just need to let the seed of new awareness grow into something sweeter over time without trying to rush it along.
💜 Trust that the clarity about how it relates to your purpose and how to put it into action will come with time.
I hope these two methods move you a few steps closer to finding your purpose and turning the bold dream you have for you life a reality.
👉 What I know for sure is that each of us came here for a reason and it wasn’t to live in mediocrity.
You came here to express yourself. You came here to bring forth that thing within you that’s unique to you. And you came here to make a difference.
In other words…you came here for a purpose.