Life path and purpose are topics that are being discussed more and more now. People want their time here to mean something and yet so many feel lost. I was on a quest for my purpose for a very long time and in the past few years I’ve gotten closer to putting my finger on what I am meant to do here. This blog is part of that big answer but like everyone else I am still figuring it out as I go.
Because purpose is a subject that fascinates me, I have consumed a lot of content (books, articles, videos) on the matter and have put in practice much of what I learned. Many approaches helped me move forward and find my path so I thought I would share some of them in the hopes that it can guide others.
Finding answers usually starts with a question so here a few that can give you some direction.
WHAT ARE YOU GOOD AT?
It might seem like a given that your purpose is something you are good at but the problem is that sometimes we don’t really see it because it comes so naturally to us. Notice what you love spending your spare time doing and what you always want to find out more about. Is there an area in your life where you consider yourself quite talented but are also motivated to perfect yourself even more?
For me, it was anything that had to do with healthy living: discovering which foods I should eat, trying out various exercise regimens and everything around this topic. I tend to absorb the information like a sponge because I find it interesting and it is aligned with one of my core values: wellness and well-being.
*Hint: When taking inventory of what areas you excel in, don’t get sidetracked by tasks you are good at but don’t enjoy 110%. I’m great at planning and analytics but I don’t want to be doing that all day and certainly not as my main purpose.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE?
As I mentioned above, it’s key to focus on what you really, truly LOVE. What do you do and never see the time go by? When do you feel alive and are totally in the present moment? Where we can get stuck sometimes is that most of us have many things we enjoy doing. If you have several passions (it’s the case for me) finding the one that is associated to your purpose can be confusing. It is possible that a few of them are related to it but I will give you an ever better clue:
When you combine something that you love doing that also benefits others, THAT is a key indicator of the direction of your purpose.
For example, my blog came from all the time I was spending in the kitchen and then bringing my culinary creations to work. When I saw the happiness it created among my colleagues, I knew there was something special there and I wanted to find a way to spread that joy. I decided to create The Red Fairy Project to regroup the recipes that were such a success. With time, the focus of the blog evolved and I realized that wellness and healthy living were part of my calling.
SPEND TIME IN NATURE
One of the mistakes we often make when trying to figure out our purpose is overthinking it. We are so used to being dominated by our mind that we believe all the answers come from there but you have to rely on more than that to find your calling. Tapping into your intuition and quieting the mind is actually what will help make your path clearer. How you do that is up to you but there is one common way that seems to work for almost every single human being: spending time in nature.
When you are in nature, you allow yourself to relax. You might get lost in thought but you are also creating space for other information to come up: guidance from the heart. I often get my best ideas when I go for a walk, when I am doing SUP on the lake or when I spend time with my furry friends (horses, goats, cats, you name it). I mean, look at the picture below. How can you not smile and unwind with those adorable faces staring back at you?
Stepping outside your daily routine is helpful when searching for life’s big answers. When we are home, we are so busy with all our responsibilities that it doesn’t leave much space for contemplation. Living new experiences while traveling can open doors that you might not have considered before.
When you go exploring, it gives you the opportunity to meet new people which might give you insights as to what your next step should be.
You don’t necessarily have to hop on a plane to get a fresh perspective. Plan a weekend escapade to that B&B you’ve been wanting to check out. Even just a day trip can help you release everything that fills that active mind of yours so that you are more receptive to your inner guidance.
BE CONSCIOUS OF WHO AND WHAT YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH
All the inner work in the world won’t amount to much if you are surrounded with negativity. Be it the information you expose yourself to (ex: negative news on TV) or the people in your life, these elements can either help or hinder you from finding your purpose. Family and friends might have the best intentions in the world when giving out advice but remember that they come with fears and past experiences that influence their judgement.
Be careful who you mention your quest for purpose to as certain cynics can crush your mission in a flash.
In contrast, when you find supportive allies, you can actually be propelled in the right direction so pin point people that are positive and that perhaps have found their own purpose. They can have precious wisdom to share and are likely to be more than willing to guide you.
FUN & HELPFUL TOOL: THE INSPIRATION BOARD
There are several ways to find clues as to what your purpose involves and one of my favourites is using an inspiration board. I started this practice in my late twenties based on an Oprah show that featured the book Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self.
The goal is to gather images that resonate with you with the intention of making your desires and path clearer.
It can be regarding your personal life, your career and beyond. The key is to bring out something that is already within you and is meant to come forth. Below you can see a collection of pages I’ve ripped out of magazines over the years. Some are quite old (like the yogi doing the handstand) and others are more recent.
Important: Don’t try to rationalize or figure out why a certain image generates a positive emotion in you. It can take a while before the reason becomes clear.
For example, I cut out that yoga picture light-years before I even thought about doing my yoga teacher training. At the time, I liked what the image represented: a strong and healthy woman that was also an entrepreneur working in the wellness industry. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say so now it’s clear why that photo jumped at out me!
FINAL TIP: BE OPEN AND PATIENT
Don’t force an answer to come. The road to finding your purpose isn’t one straight line. Allow yourself to explore and take detours. You might try one route and realize that it’s not the one for you and that’s totally fine. It really is part of the journey and without having gone this way, you might not have taken that next step that did clarify the direction you are meant to take.
Also be aware that the form in which you live your purpose can change over time. You have many gifts to offer so you might go through various iterations of how you express your calling. Doesn’t that make things more interesting anyways?
I know how important having resources to guide you on this search can be so here are some great ones. First is a fantastic interview featuring Marie Forleo and Chris Gillebeau on the topic of purpose.
If you like what Chris had to say in this video and want to dive even deeper into his work, you can read Born for This: How to Find the Work you Were Meant to Do.
And finally, there is a 3 question purpose “quiz” which I talk about here that is fun to do and that can bring clarity. Remember that there isn’t one magical recipe to find your calling.
What matters is taking action rather than just staying in your head and not being afraid of trial and error.
Don’t take your quest too seriously and enjoy yourself along the way. Your purpose isn’t a destination to look forward to. Everything you do along the way brings value to your life and to those around you so notice the gifts you are creating in the process and take moments to be grateful for this wonderful adventure.
If you have any comments or questions on this topic, I would love for you to share them. This is something we are all in together so by joining forces we empower each other and help each other figure out that next step.