6 Things to Consider Before Discovering Your Purpose

This is part 5 of a 7-part series on how to discover your real purpose in life.

  1. How to Know If You are Living Your Life Purpose NOW
  2. 5 Reasons You Should Have a Life Purpose (if You Don’t Already Have One)
  3. Why Earning Money Is Not Your Real Purpose (And How To Know What Is)
  4. Two Important Things that Led Me to Discover My Real Purpose
  5. 6 Things to Consider Before Discovering Your Purpose
  6. How To Discover Your Real Life Purpose in 30 Minutes
  7. Living in Alignment with Your Purpose

6 Things to Consider Before Discovering Your Purpose

Several self-help authors and writers recommend discovering your purpose by imagining you are at your eulogy – i.e., your funeral. What will you want others to say about you when you die? What is the legacy you want to leave behind?

Personally, I do not agree to this method for two reasons:

  1. Ego-based. By anchoring yourself on others’ perceptions of you, you are tapping into your ego and fear. A purpose is not about the leaving a legacy or making others remember you positively; it is about living your life in a way that you yourself will stand proud against
  2. Short-term. Our existence between now and physical death is merely a very small speck in the larger spectrum of life. By defining our purpose in the context of our physical existence only, we are not living out our life in the fullest entirety possible.

How should my purpose be like?

Your purpose is going guide you through every act in life, so it is crucial that you define it accurately.

Here is a list of guiding principles on how your purpose should be like:

1. Resonates with who you are.

What do you absolutely relish doing? Your purpose should accurately reflect your passion, your desires, your core being and values. To do so, you need to have a sufficient level of self-awareness. Ask yourself:If I have to do something for the rest of my life, without getting paid a single cent, what would I want to do?” This is something true to yourself – it is your purpose, not other peoples’ purpose.

2. Limitless in entity, time and space.

Anchor it on ageless principles. Attempting to hinge your purpose on a particular entity (e.g. your family, partner, job, nation, etc), time (e.g. your physical life span) or space (e.g. a particular geographical location) makes your purpose one dimensional. Instead of orienting your purpose around your family, try to ladder it up to a higher order group, such as relationships. Instead of a specific religion, ladder it up to spirituality. Instead of defining within your physical life span, look toward the entire existence of life. Instead of a specific location, look at the entire universe and galaxy.

Make it an overarching theme that spans across (a) entity, (b) time and (c) space. It’s a message and not a medium. You can be more specific in laying boundaries when you plan goals based on your purpose. For starters, recognize that you are living at a point in the 13.7 billion life span of our current universe (which is also one of the many universes out there) and you are one of the 6.7 billion lives to walk earth right now. If you can live forever, and if you’re not bounded by geography, what would you want your purpose to be in the context of the entire universe? What will really be of meaning to you in this scenario?

Money and conferred statuses do not withstand this test because they are impermanent things that do not matter in the larger span of human existence (time). By using this principle, it allowed me to accelerate the discovery of the purpose that has real meaning for me, as I have shared in my personal story previously.

3. Visionary vs. uninspiring.

Think big. This is your guide to achieving your best possible life and highest potential beyond your imaginations. It should inspire, energize and stir up the essence of your soul! Forget social, physical or mental constraints in your life currently. What will you do if you will definitely succeed? “To be happy” is a half-baked purpose because it hinges on subjective emotional states as the determinant. You can consciously make yourself happy now if you choose to, without doing anything. Your purpose should be something that requires concrete action on your part to fulfill.

4. Specific vs. vague.

“To live life to the fullest everyday” or “Carpe diem” is self-looping. What does it mean to live life to the fullest? It does not say anything – purposes should be inherently fulfilling! Your purpose should be the identification of what specifically you feel you should do in order to live life to the fullest. What are things in life which give you the greatest gratification and meaning when you do them?

5. Direction vs. end state.

Avoid wrongly defining end states as your purpose. Goals are the milestones or destinations, your purpose is the direction to travel in. Antarctica is a destination, North is a direction. Likewise, becoming a teacher, president or singer are goals. Educating and growing people is a purpose.

6. Rooted in love vs. fear.

To truly empower your existence, your purpose should be liberating to your existence and aligned with the highest order emotion, which is love. Purposes like ‘to become wealthy’, ‘to be successful in endeavours’ or ‘acquire social status’ are fear-based and rooted in externalities, as we have discussed in the previous article ‘Why Earning Money Is Not Your Real Purpose (And How To Know What Is)‘. Your purpose should that emanates from within, like an inner state of being. It should not require affirmation from the outside world, such as physical possessions, status titles. Refer to the article for more information.

With the key principles of defining your purpose in place, we are now ready to finally move on to the next chapter on discovering your purpose! :)

This is part 5 of a 7-part series on how to discover your real purpose in life.

  1. How to Know If You are Living Your Life Purpose NOW
  2. 5 Solid Reasons You Should Have A Purpose
  3. Why Earning Money Is Not Your Real Purpose (And How To Know What Is)
  4. 2 Important Things that Led to My Discovery of My Real Purpose
  5. 6 Things to Consider Before Discovering Your Purpose
  6. Discover Your Real Life Purpose In The Next 30 Minutes
  7. Living in Alignment with Your Purpose

Image: CarbonNYC

  • http://tarotmastershimure.blogspot.com/ SHIMURE

    Good article….. especially about finding something which you would do for all eternity…..

  • Keith

    These are really excellent points on a “life purpose.” Too often people sell themselves short by attaching their purpose to something external to their being, and then find they are not fulfilled at some point.

    For me, I look at it as a way of being, and that way of being has certain desires and goals which emanate out from itself. That’s what guides my actions in life, and I think that’s what gives it its inherent power in my life as well.

    I’m glad that you’ve put so much consideration into this post, I hope that more people discover what you’re talking about here rather than these externally-directed, or ego/fear-based versions of “life purpose” you so often hear or read about in so many other places.

  • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

    @Keith: Thanks, I’m really happy that you have found your real purpose that guides you through life :)

  • VickiB

    I’ve read this before and was pleased to come across it again.

    What I have seen is that my purpose remains the same even though the expression of it, or the way I pursue it, changes.

    My life purpose is to make the world a better place. That is the purpose behind all of my career choices and activities, family decisions, etc. For instance, I worked for the Mental Health Center as a therapist for Chronically Mentally Ill adults. I worked for social service agencies. I provided training for adoptive and foster parents Now I teach Spanish and do some work as a translator/interpreter. I became an adoptive parent myself and later a foster parent to 24 children (not all at once!). In all of these ways, I made the world a better place for someone. (I should say that WE became adoptive and foster parents; I didn’t do it alone.)

    Now I spend a lot of my time caring for my husband, who has serious health problems. I believe that the world is a better place with him in it! Also that the world is a better place because of the encouragement that it gives others to see someone like him who is successfully negotiating the challenges of several serious illnesses.

    And that long-lasting loving relationships make the world a better place.

    When I realized that doing what I do serves my life purpose, it helped me relax about what I “should” be doing. I don’t have to get a job at a social service agency again or start doing foster care again in order to serve my purpose.