How to Find Your Purpose in Life
Tomorrow is Memorial Day here in the U.S., when we honor the men and women who have fought and died in military service for our country. I am tremendously grateful for the sacrifices of our military and law enforcement officers.
In my leader coaching and training workshops, I often refer to military, law enforcement, and other protectors as the ultimate example of the power of purpose. These brave men and women are so aligned with their purpose – to preserve freedom and protect people – that they are willing to put their own lives on the line every day.
As you reflect on these brave souls this Memorial Day, you might also take time to consider your own purpose in life.
Can you imagine finding value in your work that would so deeply resonate with you?
The power of purpose
Though I am not making the same commitment as these brave people, I’ve been lucky enough to find my purpose in helping leaders find their truth and become great communicators.
In the first five months of this year I’ve traveled thousands of miles nearly every week to work with clients throughout the country, but I don’t get tired because I thrive on people experiencing personal growth. The feeling that I’m helping to change lives lets me tap the power of my purpose.
Speaking at a conference in Las Vegas last week, I witnessed the emotional resonance of purpose. In an exercise, I had asked people to share with a partner their life or business purpose. As I handed the microphone to audience members they gave powerful answers that brought tears to them and others in the room.
Most important days in your life
Richard Leider is an executive life coach and bestselling author of 11 books, including The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, and Better. In his TED Talk, How to Unlock the Power of Purpose, Leider describes leading walking tours in Africa for decades, where he would interview tribal leaders.
He recounts his story of when a wise elder, becoming frustrated with too many questions around the fire, posed his own question to Leider: “Do you know the two most important days in your life?”
Leider replied, the day you are born and the day you die. The elder countered, the two most important days are the day you are born and the day you know why.
Leider cites research that having a clear purpose in life, particularly as we age, may ward off mental decline and increase life expectancy by up to seven years.
Search for meaning
Vicktor Frankl, soon after surviving Nazi concentration camps, wrote the seminal book Man’s Search for Meaning. He noted similar benefits, observing that when his fellow prisoners would lose their sense of purpose, they were more likely to become sick and die.
Finding your purpose
Leider, the executive life coach, has a couple of simple methods for unearthing your calling in your vocation.
First, ask these questions and rate your answer with a 1 (lowest ranking) to 10 (highest ranking):
1. Do you love what you do? 1-10
2. Is there any part of your day where you love what you do? 1-10
3. Are there any people you love serving more than others? 1-10
Your answers to these questions will give you clues about areas that hint at passion in your life. If you rated your job poorly, but love coaching soccer or mentoring students, it may be a clue that you should be teaching or coaching.
If you have certain clients that you like serving more than others, perhaps seniors or recent graduates, you might have also identified a niche that inspires you.
The napkin test
Second, here is Leider’s “Napkin Test,” which he calls the Purpose Formula: G + P + V = C. That is, “Gifts + Passions + Values = Calling.”
It’s a simple and elegant approach, but it takes some introspection and work to identify and align your gifts, passions, and values.
Leider says you can be fundamentally happier, more fulfilled, and more productive if you bring more of yourself to what you do. From my experience in my life and with my clients, I concur.
Finding your purpose can be a long journey, but it’s a road worth traveling.
You can travel down this road right now. The slower pace of summer is an ideal time to consider the most important question of your life: what is your purpose?
Will you reflect on that as you enjoy this Memorial Day weekend?
To share your thoughts with me you can visit our contact page.
I look forward to hearing from you.