Is there a way to find the true meaning and purpose in our life?
Why is it so important to find it?
Award-Winning & #1 Best-Selling Author, Habits For Success – Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar | Coach | Creative | TEDx Speaker | Radio Personality | Actor | 4x Ironman Triathlete
Embrace the self-growth process
I know it isn’t always easy but from a personal standpoint, my life just continues to get better and better the more self-aware that I become.
When we embrace the self-growth process we begin a journey of shining light on all parts of us. The figured out areas as well as the parts within us that have been hurt, held back and that are fearful to move forward. And they will continue to be so unless we step into them.
It was ten years ago when I really began to take a deeper look into myself and began the process of allowing myself to take a vulnerable, honest look into some of the things that might possibly be holding me back.
I had just left my family business into the unknown and honestly didn’t know what I was going to do next, I just felt like I wasn’t growing there anymore. So while searching for my next step I began to open myself up to new ways of thinking and growth.
What I found as I took the plunge, not only did I begin to shed old ways of thinking that no longer served me, but I also began to learn to love and accept myself more. It was an unexpected but life-changing result for me.
As I began to accept myself more, I began to shed a lot of proverbial weight from my shoulders that I carried around trying to be someone that I wasn’t. And I found I wasn’t wasting as much time trying to fill all of those voids that weren’t being filled from my own happiness and contentment from within.
The self-growth process has been life-changing for me. And it was certainly no accident that as I began to explore within that I began to find purpose and success on the outside as well. All of my books, film projects, etc. have an extension of my own growth process. It definitely wasn’t an accident.
If you are really wanting to find meaning and purpose within your life, start with yourself and see what follows!
Life Coach | Founder, Life Academy
There is a saying “God didn’t create any human frivolously.” Those of us who are inclined to search for the true purpose or meaning in our lives generally accept the notion that we are all here for a reason.
According to monistic theory, the universal intelligence that may know our highest purpose, our “raison d’etre” exists inside of every one of us.
The problem is that we have egos and rational minds that create a false sense of identity for us that constantly needs to be validated. Often, ego identity can create goals that are self-serving and can run contrary to our purpose.
But if we can get our ego-mind and rational mind to quiet down, we create space for that intelligence to guide us organically toward the thoughts and activities that will bring about a positive impact in the world and fulfill the greater purpose we were designed for.
Have faith that your life matters
The beautiful thing is we don’t even need to consciously know what our highest purpose is, in order to achieve it. All that is necessary is the faith that our lives do have purpose and meaning, far greater than we could ever possibly comprehend.
Living our highest purpose means that we are always evolving, and we don’t see the accomplishment of any goal as our purpose, or what will make our life meaningful.
But, while our purpose is never directly connected to the achievement of any goal, that doesn’t mean that setting, and doing everything in our power to achieve, meaningful audacious goals isn’t necessary to live our most purpose-driven lives.
In fact, it is necessary. But the achievement of our purpose has far more to do with who we become in the process than the outcomes, over which we, ultimately, have very little control.
Seeking to live our lives to the fullest in every area, and feel really good in every area, means that we will be fulfilling our highest purpose.
Every moment that we are growing, seeking, contributing, loving, connecting, creating, refining, rejoicing, accepting, giving and reciprocating, we are living our purpose.
Meanwhile, every second that we experience fear, doubt, judgment, disconnection, blame, anger, hatred, frustration, pain, and disconnection, we have fallen off track from achieving our purpose.
Be careful about how you impact the world
While we can never know the impact we will have in the world, we should all know that we will have a great impact and there is no neutral.
One key is to take on the responsibility to create our world, not just consume it. Another key is to begin to look at the invisible decisions we make and see how those align with the person we want to be.
Are we ok with how our clothing and food was produced? Have we looked into it beyond the signage from the sellers and producers themselves?
Yes, this means questioning some accepted paradigms and attitudes of the dominant culture, and yes, it can be a bit uncomfortable, but it is an important part of seeking, learning, growing, and ultimately making a difference.
Everything we do matters, and taking responsibility for making congruent consumption choices with the little things, send a message to our mighty subconscious that we are ready to make a bigger impact.
Our purpose here on earth is never accomplished, as long as we are still alive. So tenacity is imperative if we are to achieve our full potential for greatness. And as we go about life, learning, growing, gaining perspective, our capacity for greatness also grows.
Consequently, the universe will inevitably throw greater challenges our way. These challenges are useful because they allow us to become even greater and continue the virtuous cycle of growth and contribution.
Our purpose is limitless
Our purpose is not limited by the scope of any singular cause or movement, even when it comes to our life’s work. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact was not limited to the advancement of civil rights for African Americans. Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy was not limited to a specific group either. The legacy of these great leaders served and benefited all of society.
- By becoming the kind of person who asks: “What kind of person do I want to be and what kind of impact do I want to make in the world?” Know that this may change- but clarity on our purpose comes from action, not from thought alone.
- Start living every moment as the person you want to be making the impact you want to make.
- Understanding that our purpose is how we live and who we become in the process, it is not our goals
- Understanding that our time here, in the physical realm is temporary, helps to give us perspective on why our purpose is so much more important than our ego.
Inventor | CEO, Micrel Semiconductor | Author, Tough Things First
The purpose of life is to improve the lives of others
Finding purpose and meaning in life isn’t about financial success. It is about focusing on doing for others.
In the 37 years that I ran Micrel, I never really worried about how much money I would make. By not worrying if I would become a millionaire, I kept my attention riveted on my true passion: where Micrel would fit into the microchip market, how my employees would prosper, and what legacy I could leave for others.
In other words, I found purpose and meaning by not focusing on myself, but by focusing on improving the lives of others. This is the core of servant leadership which is also important on a spiritual level as well.
CEOs who fixate on money tend to lose sight of the real purpose of life: their mission, the thrill of accomplishment, the joy of building a company that employs many people.
Value kindness and the way we treat others
We must hold gratitude, appreciation, and giving as the highest priorities on our values and virtues list.
Everyone enjoys money and the things it can purchase. Money definitely buys relief from worry about making ends meet and payment deadlines. The media, however, perpetuates a distorted perception that money, power, and materialism is equated with happiness.
In fact, in my large Beverly Hills private practice I treat many celebrities and Hollywood’s elite who complain bitterly about having reached the top of their game and still feel unfulfilled inside.
And, just like Edward Diener’s studies have found, income only makes you happy to a point. Paul McCartney and John Lennon brilliantly understood that “money can’t buy you love.”
To target deeper joy, one must reap happiness, or good feeling, from a human-to-human interactive experience. The deepest pleasures are derived from giving, appreciation, and gratitude.
Instill pleasure in giving
You want to teach kids to give. How do parents do that? Start by knowing each one of your individual children. Identify what brings each one of your kids’ personal pleasure.
Maybe, one loves to cook while another enjoys painting. Join them in baking cookies and painting colorful pictures to take to the local Homeless Shelter for Families and watch them beam smiles as they give their creations to less fortunate children and families.
This plants the early seeds of pleasure in giving. Their faces will light up, and at the same time, your kids will see the receivers’faces light up in joy. The mirroring effect seals the experience in glue. The feel-good emotion can become addictive where your child wants to give, give, give.
There are other factors that play into this picture. One crucial contributing factor is the personality style of the child. Is she self-centered? Is he self-serving? Or, are they selfless by nature? All of these things affect how long it will require changing your taker into a giver!
Award-Winning Author | Inventor | Futurist | Innovation Keynote Speaker |
Founder, Creative Innovation Group
Discover what makes you happy
The first key to finding meaning and purpose in your life is to discover what makes you happy. If you have a job you hate you probably don’t look forward to Mondays and can’t wait until Friday.
People who love what they do will do it every day even if they don’t get paid for it. What do you want to spend most of your time doing?
You don’t necessarily have to get paid for something for it to have meaning and purpose in your life. You could find meaning and purpose in doing volunteer work or in being a parent. The thing that gives your life meaning and purpose also usually does something good for someone else.
Rev. Connie L. Habash, LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist | Yoga & Meditation Teacher | Author, Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life
To find meaning, look into your heart and your body
What do you feel within – the sensations – in each situation? Our sensations and emotions guide us to understand what life presents us. Those sensations will let us know when we’re taking actions in alignment with our higher purpose or not.
When I feel spacious, open, energized, grounded, yet light, I know I’m following my dharma, my life’s purpose. My actions are in alignment with that. But when I feel constriction, tension, heaviness, agitation, stuckness, lethargy, and apathy, I know that I’m out of alignment with my purpose and something needs to change.
What brings my life meaning the most? When I am active in love and service to the world. There are many ways to do that, so find the way to be of service and express the unconditional love that aligns with your gifts, talents, experience, and skills. We came here to make a difference, and we all have gifts to give the world.
Lisa Sansom, MBA, MAPP, PCC
Organizational and Leadership Development Coach | Consultant, LVS Consulting
Look for experiences and things that make you feel alive
It can be helpful to look back over your life – what were your peak experiences? When were times that you felt fully alive and fulfilled? What energizes you and lifts you up? Typically, when we look at these moments over time, there are trends and indications of meaning and purpose.
Remember, you are looking for times when you were contributing to something larger than yourself, something that is pro-social, uplifting and beneficial for society. It is a connection to more than just the individual. Seek larger themes.
For example, one client looked back over her life and remembered playing “school” as a child, and she was always the teacher. She remembered taking her children on trips to new locations and doing research with them to learn about the new cultures and finding great things to see and do.
She remembers her joy in chatting with strangers on the bus and sharing information and ideas with them that might help them solve problems and move forward in life. She feels that she is the sort of person that others come to for advice and ideas – this is a value that she adds in her circle of friends.
There is a theme there that builds on her strengths and contributes to the larger world around her – a theme of education, a theme of supporting others, a theme of helping.
These are clues to her broader meaning and can give some indications of where she might go with this – working in education, volunteering with specific non-profits that are aligned with her meaning, or perhaps starting up her own organization.
Once you find those themes of your meaning and purpose, then you can create the next steps to bring that calling to life and realize it in practical impactful ways.
Vicky Woodruff LMSW, MSW
Licensed Social Worker | Owner, Woodruff Counseling
Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT)
In SFT you ask people what is called the miracle question. If a miracle happened and everything was just the way you wanted it how would you know? What would you feel? What would you see? Who is around?
This question may seem bizarre but it can help you to find out where you want to go. What brings meaning to our lives varies greatly from person to person. Which is why taking a global look at what brings us peace and joy can help.
By doing this we can identify small goals like volunteering or spending more time with our family as a step towards achieving this ideal happiness.
Life Coach | Founder, Achieving Family Goals
Find a way to serve others without seeking anything in return
One of my favorite quotes comes from a poem by William Blake:
I sought my soul,
But my soul I could not see.
I sought my God,
But my God eluded me.
I sought my brother,
And I found all three.
This is absolutely the best way to find meaning and purpose in your life. Too many people look inward to find themselves (my soul). “If only I could figure out what I really love,” he thinks, “then I’ll go do that and be truly happy.” These people are mistaken, unfortunately.
Doing something you love isn’t bad in and of itself, but it alone won’t give your meaning or purpose
It does help if you can help people while doing something you enjoy, but it isn’t required.
Some also get lost trying to find the one true philosophy in life (my God). This is an honorable pursuit and one that I support fully. However, people may be tempted to stop there and fail to apply it in the context of other people. This journey can only take you so far.
Service is different. It provides you with purpose and meaning in multiple ways.
- The most obvious way is the inner fulfillment you receive when you do something for someone else without expecting anything in return
- Meaningful service causes you to forget about your own problems temporarily and often helps you to see life through a different perspective and subsequently shift priorities so that problems will sometimes all but disappear.
- Service connects you to the religion, spirituality, philosophy, etc., that you believe in or are searching for
- The acts of service that you perform can open your eyes to what it is you love to do, thus lighting your future service work. Because we are what we frequently do, service can change who we are.
That’s how seeking our brothers and sisters can help us find ourselves and our God. Without earnestly helping others no one can succeed at anything else and still find true meaning, purpose, or happiness.
Speaker | Personal Development Coach | Founder, Jessi Beyer International, LLC
Reflect on what you personally believe as purposeful and meaningful
The most important thing to remember when discussing finding meaning and purpose in your life is that meaning and purpose look different for every single person.
Yes, it’s commonly accepted that being a doctor and saving lives or being a police officer and helping arrest criminals is meaningful, but that doesn’t make an exhaustive list of what’s meaningful in life.
When you’re figuring out what you do with your life, what your purpose is, and how to have a meaningful life, you need to separate what society tells you is purposeful and meaningful and ask yourself what you believe is purposeful and meaningful.
This takes some serious self-reflection, but building a life that’s based on your own definitions will both make a greater difference in the world and make you happier and more fulfilled.
A great place to start is by looking at what you get frustrated about in the world and what you always daydream about at your current day job – those thoughts and frustrations are guiding principles for building a life that’s meaningful and full of purpose.
Author | Life Coach
Identify your core values
Finding meaning and purpose in your life is a deeply personal journey that requires radical honesty. The first step I recommend for people who have committed to this journey is to identify and define their core values.
Questions such as, “What is important to you?” and “What makes me uniquely me?” and “What could I never live without?” can begin to lead you towards identifying what is most important.
Once you identify the top three to five values, focus on what each of those values means to you, why they’re important and how you’re currently expressing them in your life.
From there, commit to choices which are in alignment with your values to ensure you’re living from a place of meaning and purpose in every aspect of your life.
Former TV Reporter/Anchor | Author, Studio Baby: Adventures of a TV Reporter Turned Stay-at-home Mom
Recognize the value and importance of your presence
We can’t find meaning without being. Presence is the first step to calling more meaning into our lives. Most of us are so overbooked these days it’s easy to understand why many of us feel so lost.
If we pay attention, we can find meaning almost anywhere; in service to our families, communities, or in a feather we see floating on the wind. Beyond simply being, I find creating (whether it be writing or DIYing my house) and building connections with family, friends, and in nature all give my life great meaning.
Chad R. MacDonald
Writer | Speaker | Founder, The Good, the Chad & the Ugly
Appreciate life’s simple joys
The more you look for your life’s meaning, the more elusive it becomes.
The better question almost is, why are you searching for meaning in your life? Would a defined purpose make you happy? Because if you say you’re searching for meaning in your life, it means you’re not happy with it as it is right now.
For me, this was definitely the case. I wanted my life to have meaning, but I simply couldn’t find it. I tried different jobs. I took different courses. I had endless conversations with friends and family about my life’s direction. I even volunteered my time and my skills for good causes.
But no matter what I did, fulfillment proved too elusive. I couldn’t find a job that filled me with purpose, a relationship that gave my life meaning, not even my volunteering made me feel fulfilled. That led me into an extended depression.
It would take a freak accident, landing me in the hospital for two months, to snap me out of this. I spent six weeks being fed through tubes. I could not eat or drink. Days were spent daydreaming about apple juice. Having the simplest pleasures stripped from me made me long for them as I never had before.
After something like that happens, you stop pursuing ways to give your life purpose. Instead, you have a new appreciation of life’s simple joys. The taste of apple juice. The breeze on your face. The aroma of flowers. The company of friends and family. Good books.
And then a realization hit. I had been pursuing jobs, relationships, even opportunities to volunteer, not so I could help other people but to impress them. I wasn’t doing things to help other people, but to help me, and selfishness simply cannot lead you to fulfillment.
You shouldn’t do things because you think they will give your life meaning. You should do things because they are good in and of themselves.
Searching for the meaning of your life will almost always guarantee you’ll never find it.
The trick to finding the meaning in your life seems to be not to look for it. Because if you look for purpose in your life, it will always remain at the forefront of your mind, and that’s how it will remain elusive.
Instead, search for beauty. For justice. For love. The true purpose is not something you can find.
Instead, it must be discovered along the way of your life’s journey.
Certified Mental Health Expert | Family Care Professional, Maple Holistics
Finding meaning and purpose in your life is what can ground you and give you the motivation to kickstart each day. So if you’re struggling to discover meaning and purpose within your life, do some inner searching.
Make a list of things you are passionate about
This list can include your friends, your family, a political cause, helping a certain needy population, etc. Then research which organizations already address related issues or think of a need that’s not being met and how you can make a difference for this cause.
Once you have intrinsic motivation and a plan, the meaning and purpose will fall into place.
Speaker | Mental Health Volunteer | Author, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness
Volunteer activities make me feel alive because it gives me a chance to pay-it-forward as I reach out to others who experience life struggles similar to mine. When I use the emotional pain I faced to give support, it brings meaning to the most difficult time in my life. Let me explain.
I found what makes me feel alive and gives my life meaning after I walked beside my adult daughter as she battled schizophrenia. Up until that time, my life went about as I thought it would go.
I married in my early 20’s, gave birth to four children, watched them grow and graduate from high school, and then from college. When schizophrenia manifested in my twenty-four-year-old daughter, I had to educate myself.
This helped me accept her illness and become the person she needed to help her journey to recovery. She lived with us during her four years of intensive treatment before she could reclaim her independent life. She then moved into an apartment.
After our journey together, I became a volunteer for our local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) I teach the class, Family to Family, which I took during her illness.
I also volunteer to lead the support group held bi-monthly for those who work to manage their mental illness and/or families. I speak with groups about mental illness and how we can support the families.
These volunteer activities make me feel alive. I feel like I pay-it-forward as I walk beside other families as they learn about mental illness. It’s my way to honor the struggles my daughter faced and continues to manage each day.
I dream of a day when all of the people affected by mental illness can lead productive, active lives as she does. Until then, I’ll be the shoulder for the next family to lean upon.
How others can find meaning in their lives? I think for me it happened when I used the emotional pain I encountered during my daughter’s illness to help others who experience similar pain. It gives a positive meaning to the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my sixty-four years of life.
Author | Journalist | Life Coach | Content Editor, E-Counseling
Recognize when you feel excited, energized, and focused on something that holds your attention
All of us know what we prefer, what we enjoy, and what we’re good at. Or, we wish we knew. Identify some sort of theme in your life, the thoughts that you focus upon more often than other lines of thinking.
Those reactions tell you what’s important to you. Choosing to become involved with activities related to any of that is a step toward finding meaning and purpose in your life. You might choose to pursue causes and/or hobbies that fill you with a sense of meaning and purpose.
Many emotions will be involved as you find meaning and purpose in your life, and those emotions will grow or recede over time, mix with other emotions, and dominate your thinking from time to time.
The emotions can include happiness from rising self respect at your self-discipline, increased trust in yourself, pride in your accomplishments, a sense of joy in helping other people, a sense of surprise and delight at newly made realizations, and even feeling called or drawn to the activity – as if GOD/the Universe wants you to do X, Y, or Z..
One of the most surprising discoveries for some people is that the insights which they gained while enduring and overcoming some sort of struggle enable them to help other people with the same problem(s). A person who persevered through and past difficulty develops skills for finessing the problem, skills that they wouldn’t have developed otherwise.
Your experiences in life and the lessons that you learn to make you unique. The wisdom that you then share with the wider world, even with one person at a time. is the value that you bring to life.
Your passions will develop and change over time. You might find yourself pursuing one specific activity rather than another at different periods of your life. That’s normal,
People who are bored with their lives or jealous of yours might offer rude, insulting criticism of your efforts. That problem is with the critics, not with you or what you’re doing. You don’t need to be as famous as some do-gooder, musician, artist, chef, designer, architect, whatever the role may be.
You can fulfill your purpose on a more down-to-earth scale. Fame is not for everyone, and it definitely is not a necessity for living a meaningful, purposeful life. Mentors, on the other hand, are people who guide someone into improving their skills and thinking efforts. They can be beneficial.
Welcome mentors into your life. They can be stepping stones to greater, more satisfying achievements as you find meaning and purpose in your life, and they might turn into lifelong friends.
It is such a complex thing to do. That is when looking at the subject as an overall picture. How does one find meaning and purpose? I like to break this down into four parts that I think are essential to creating the life you want for yourself.
Working from a holistic viewpoint and blending the art of coaching with spirituality tends to work well on both the subconscious and the conscious mind.
It is imperative to be working on both because as Dr. Bruce Lipton, a developmental Biologist states in his research that we operate from our subconscious mind 95% of the time. The other 5% we are operating from our conscious mind. Our creative brain.
So what does that mean? We operate on auto-pilot most of the time. Our habits, repetitive behavioral patterns and the stories we tell ourselves are replayed over and over, without us even knowing why we do the things we do or having much understanding of them!
We don’t have an awareness of them so we can’t change what we can’t see! The measurement we use is simply knowing that our lives suck and we feel unfulfilled and empty. As opposed to feeling great, and our life is peachy.
I believe it’s a disconnect between the head, heart, and soul!
Re-introducing people back to their lives
Refocusing their attention on what they actually ‘want’ in their lives, rather than going through the motions on auto, falling in and out of their unconstructed lives.
We get them dreaming and creating on purpose what they want in 12 life areas. This breaks their lives down so they can ‘see’ it, rather than being an overarching ‘one big life’.
For some people, they have never looked at their life in this way, and some have never realized they can in fact make choices.
When someone is creating, this is the purpose. It’s a deliberate act of crafting something from your head and heart just the way you want it. Crafting themselves, by asking “Who do I want to be”? This part of the process is working in their conscious mind. They are reconnecting back to self.
It’s only when people are operating from a natural place, authentic to their true nature, can they feel fulfilled and find meaning. It’s the discord felt when being pushed and pulled away from their true selves, when there is incongruence between what they feel inside, and who they show up to be in the outside world.
They develop a beautiful life vision, an overarching vision of what their life looks like in the next 5 years. This is written as the movie of their life in the present tense ‘I am” and ‘As if’ it’s already happened. Their vision has to be emotive, deep from their hearts and evoke powerful emotion and longing.
Not only for themselves, but how it incorporates their family, their environment, and anything revealed to be of immense importance and value to them. Their life movie is developed from their life vision in each of the 12 life areas. It becomes a powerful tool they can read at any time.
Many people have an inner calling that they have been too afraid to follow
Many don’t understand what it is. They recognize it’s a deep yearning for ‘more’ in their life, but they are unsure what this looks like. They need to have an understanding of what their calling in life is, and once recognised expand their self-esteem to find the confidence to pursue it.
Others already have precise details about what they are ‘meant’ to be doing, but need the confidence to do it! We look at the skills required, as far as education, development of intuition, helping them make a start by mapping out a plan of action, etc. to enable them to follow their dreams.
I would like to point out, following your heart and pursuing what you really want to do in life does not have to be an all or nothing exercise. It’s important to note people can start exactly where they are now! Starting at all is the key here! Baby steps!
The biggest reason people won’t step into the life they want is fear
All kinds of fear. The fear of ‘What will people think?’ What if I fail?’ How can I do this, I have family, bills, responsibilities?’ We need to look at the underlying stories, making up their foundations, that they believe to be set in stone.
This is where the deep nature of coaching reveals it’s the true value. The deep questioning of old stories and the belief system they are created on need to be broken down, so more positive and valuable truths are introduced that simply serve them better.
Looking at their current values in life help them to understand their own framework, and how they operate in the world. What energy do they exude?
We basically look at what stops them from moving forward, both now and any attempts in the past. This is why people feel so lost and empty. They are not fulfilling their internal desires, in their external reality. Remembering that our internal dialogue creates our external reality!
We armor them with tools from both the coaching and spirituality toolbox to use in their daily lives to create new patterns of behavior, new habits. This does not have to be something that takes forever either. Once again small steps! Making the smallest changes on a daily basis can create immediate huge results.
The brand new day!
This is where we see people ready to step into the life they want and take small steps towards it. One small step…
They have such inner power fuelled by their life vision that it provides intrinsic motivation to successfully complete each small step towards the life they want, their big picture. Then they create the next one.
This continual pattern of creation gives them meaning and purpose in the now! They are in sync with themselves and doing what they want to do and being who they are ‘meant’ to be.
Author | Columnist | Motivational Speaker| Venus Chronicles
Find a career that feeds your passion
Serving over 21 years in the military changed my whole life’s trajectory. Traveling the world, embracing other cultures and through serving, I discovered something bigger than myself.
Obtaining two degrees courtesy of Uncle Sam, I went from a sheltered 20-year-old in a dead-end job to a strong, confident warrior woman with CFC loads of job opportunities.
Working nearly 28 years in higher ed at the university level, I realized the best part of that was interacting, mentoring and molding young men and women into confident high achieving individuals. Still, it wasn’t until realized my life’s dream of writing at age 50 that I realized I had truly found my purpose and meaning in my life.
Indeed something happens to me when a woman comes up to me to tell me how an article or one or more of the essays in my “girlfriend’ books touched her and that she thought she was the only one who felt the way she felt about a specific topic.
Or the feeling I get when a woman contacts me to purchase a ‘signed’ copy of one or more of them for a friend dealing with an illness, separation or divorce hoping my humorous take on life will make them feel better at least for a while.
The feeling is much like a warm hug enveloping both of us and creating this wonderful feeling of sisterhood. To find purpose and meaning in one”s life you need to find something that feeds your passion and forces you to get up in the morning.
It’s finding ways to daily live life to the fullest. Inspiring others or simply making them laugh does this for me.
Co-Founder & Chief Idea Guy, Growth Engine Innovation Agency
Create your own personalized vision, mission, and values statements
Knowing and practicing a personal vision, mission, and values can be life-changing. How might one begin? Let’s start with some definitions, and examples of visions, missions, and values from well-known global organizations.
What’s a vision?
A vision, both for an organization and an individual, is the “reason for being.” In succinct and simple language, it makes clear how to serve others, and in the process make the world a better place. Examples of compelling corporate visions include:
- Disney: To make people happy.
- Charles Schwab: Helping investors help themselves.
- Oceana: Seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were.
- Kiva: We envision a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.
- Bryan Mattimore: To help people, teams, and organizations reach their full potential by popularizing the structure of creativity.
What’s a mission?
If the vision represents the “why”, the mission makes clear the “how”. Specifically, how the company or individual is going to achieve the vision. Typically, a mission includes a 3 to 5-year future view. Here are two examples of mission statements from companies you know:
- Target: Our mission is to make Target the preferred shopping destination for our guests by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experience by consistently fulfilling our “Expect More. Pay Less.” brand promise.
- Toyota: Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people. Through our commitment to quality, constant innovation and respect for the planet, we aim to exceed expectations and be rewarded with a smile. We will meet challenge goals by engaging the talent and passion of people, who believe there is always a better way.
- Bryan Mattimore: will invent, popularize and validate new creative methodologies, and ideation techniques to help individuals, teams, and organizations reach their full creative potential. He will do this by using creative approaches to invent new creative processes; by giving speeches, writing articles and books, and then freely sharing what’s been discovered and proven to work in real-world applications.
Identify your core values
Once the vision and mission have been created, then it’s time to identify core values. Core values are the essence of the company or individual’s identity: the guiding principles and beliefs. Put simply, they reflect what the company or the individual “values.”
Simply going through the exercise of creating one’s personalized vision, mission and values can be a powerful and profound personal exercise.
To get started, enlist the help of others: family members, business associates, and friends in the process of creating your own vision, mission and values statements. It will make the process easier, more fun, and ultimately result in a better outcome.
And here’s a trick we use in our workshops to help individuals begin to know what makes them unique and how specifically they can begin to exercise their life’s purpose, and in what arenas.
We have them pick two or three of their favorite movies of all time. And then answer two simple questions: “What makes these movies so compelling to you?” and “What are the movies’ key themes?” It’s surprising how such a simple technique can help individuals so quickly and successfully identify their true life’s purpose.
Serve others – whether human or another species
While I love traveling the world (more than 50 countries now!) and I aim to see 100 countries before I go, I do have a higher calling. I fell in love with an elephant sanctuary on one of my travels, and can’t help but direct my attention there when I’m able.
I will admit – when I initially went to see elephants, I wanted to ride one and pose for a photograph like everybody else. It was only once I was there that I learned of the hardships they endure as babies through adulthood and until their death.
I decided to support an absolute goddess of an elderly woman who has dedicated her life to these beautiful and intelligent creatures.
Now, everyone will find their own path to fulfillment. But, if you haven’t tried it yet, one effective shortcut is to serve others – whether human or another species. Through serving others, we can find our true purpose.
Artist | Motivator | Director of Operations, Going Green Flooring
Stimulate and nurture creativity
The act of creating requires the mind to generate a space where past, present and future experiences and information may merge. In this space, new ideas can flow and self-reflection is possible.
Doing something creative is a great alternative to yoga and meditation which some people may find to be extreme- either too physically demanding or difficult for the opposite reason, lack of movement. Creative outlets, whether it be painting, dance, music, or even gardening, involves body, mind, and soul.
The act of creating is a symbiotic one. We experience the world, thus receiving and developing information and ideas. In the process of creation, we disseminate this energy, create new connections, and put it back together in our likeness.
We create something different and new- something that now bears our mark, colored by our experiences and beliefs. Having had a part in creating something gives us our power back in a restless, unforgiving world and can help us feel more in control of our lives.
The key to using creativity as a tool is in acknowledging the act as a safe space to do so
It is important not to just go through the motions. By fully concentrating on the task at hand, we can achieve something called a “flow state,” which is when we are completely immersed in an activity.
Here, actions and awareness are merged and deep emotions may become absent – sometimes leading to a heightened state of consciousness.
Research has shown that the creative process, from idea to execution, consists of many cognitive processes interacting together – oftentimes developing new neurological pathways.
These new pathways wake up parts of the brain that maybe had not been in use before. This can lead to an “Aha!” moment by opening the mind and seeing things through a new lens.
Strangely enough, it is in this flow state that we lose awareness of ourselves and yet, afterward, our sense of self is strengthened. An open mind, a willingness to explore, perspective, and being able to enjoy the moment are all crucial in utilizing creativity as a means to find purpose in life.
Co-Founder & CEO, DialMyCalls
Find things that bring you happiness
We often get caught up in the goals of others and based on the status quo. Finding meaning and purpose is based on the things that make you happy.
One can ask themselves these simple questions: what would you do for free and be content? What do you want your legacy to be once you leave this Earth? Or, make of a list of things that you want to experience, go, or people you want to meet. These questions can definitely help you find meaning and your purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between meaning and purpose?
Meaning and purpose are two closely related but distinct concepts. Here’s a brief comparison between the two:
Meaning refers to the significance or value we attach to things, people, and events in our lives. It is subjective and varies from person to person.
Purpose, on the other hand, is a more concrete and deliberate idea about what we want to achieve or what we believe we are meant to do with our lives. It is often tied to our values and long-term goals.
In short, meaning gives our experiences context and depth, while purpose gives our lives direction and focus.
Does everyone have a purpose in life?
It is a subjective matter whether everyone has a purpose in life or not. While some people believe that we all have a predetermined purpose, others believe that we create our own purpose through our experiences and actions.
Some people find a strong sense of meaning and purpose in their careers, relationships, or personal interests, while others may struggle to identify their purpose. Overall, it is up to each individual to determine their own beliefs about the existence and nature of their purpose in life.
Can I have multiple purposes, or is there only one true purpose for my life?
It’s possible to have multiple purposes in life. Our interests, passions, and values can change over time, leading us to pursue different goals and discover new purposes.
Some people believe that there is only one true purpose for their life, while others believe that they can have multiple purposes at different stages of their lives.
The important thing is to reflect on what is important to you, what makes you feel fulfilled, and what you want to achieve in life. From there, you can start to define your own personal sense of purpose.
What if I feel lost or unsure about my life purpose?
If you’re feeling lost or unsure about your life purpose, it’s important to know that this is a common experience and you’re not alone. Finding your purpose in life can be a journey, and it’s okay to take your time and explore different paths before finding what feels right for you.
Here are some steps you can take to help clarify your purpose:
• Reflect on your values, interests, and strengths: Take time to think about what is important to you, what you enjoy doing, and what you’re naturally good at.
• Explore new experiences and activities: Try new things, whether it’s volunteering, taking a class, or pursuing a new hobby. You may discover a passion or skill that you never knew you had.
• Practice self-care: Make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. When you’re feeling good, it’s easier to think clearly and find clarity about your purpose.
• Consider your past experiences: Reflect on the experiences and accomplishments that have given you a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. This can help you identify patterns and areas where you may want to focus your energy in the future.
Can I change my purpose in life?
Yes, you can change your purpose in life. Life is not static, and your interests, values, and goals can evolve over time. It is never too late to make a change and pursue a new purpose. So always be open to new experiences and opportunities, and be willing to embrace change and uncertainty.
Can having a purpose in life lead to happiness?
Having a sense of purpose in life can contribute to overall happiness and well-being. When you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and why, you are more likely to feel motivated, focused, and fulfilled.
Research has shown that people who have a strong sense of purpose are less likely to experience depression and anxiety, and are more likely to lead a healthier and happier life. However, it’s important to remember that happiness is a complex and multifaceted experience, and having a purpose in life is just one of many factors that can contribute to overall well-being.
How do you know you have found your purpose in life?
Determining whether you’ve found your purpose in life can be a subjective experience, as it is personal and unique to each individual. However, here are a few signs that might indicate that you have found your purpose:
• A sense of fulfillment and satisfaction: When you have found your purpose, you are likely to feel a strong sense of meaning and fulfillment in what you do. This can lead to a sense of contentment and happiness in your life.
• Alignment with your values and passions: When your purpose is aligned with your values and passions, you are more likely to feel motivated and energized in pursuing it.
• A sense of direction and focus: Having a clear sense of purpose can give you a direction and focus in life, helping you make decisions and set goals with greater ease.
• A feeling of passion and enthusiasm: When you have found your purpose, you are likely to feel passionate and enthusiastic about what you do. This can lead to a greater sense of joy and fulfillment in your life.
• A sense of impact and contribution: When you have found your purpose, you may feel that you are making a positive difference in the world and contributing to something greater than yourself.
How does one maintain a sense of purpose and meaning as they age?
Maintaining a sense of purpose and meaning as you age can be a challenge, but it is possible. Here are a few tips that may help:
• Stay engaged and active in life by pursuing new interests, volunteering, or taking up new hobbies.
• Maintain close relationships with friends and family, and make an effort to build new connections as you age.
• Stay physically active, eat well, and prioritize self-care.
• Continue to learn and grow, whether through formal education or personal development.
• Reflect on what is most important to you and what gives your life meaning, and make an effort to prioritize these things in your daily life.
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