“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” John F. Kennedy
Having a sense of purpose and striving towards goals that enable you to express your purpose gives life meaning, direction and satisfaction. It not only contributes to health and longevity, but also enables you to succeed in uncertain times. If you're in harmony with your purpose, you're also in sync with the energy of the universe.
Do you know your purpose?
Answer yes or no:
1. Facing my daily tasks is very satisfying.
2. I have clear career and life goals.
3. My life has been worthless.
4. I enjoy my close friends.
5. I wouldn't change my life drastically if I had six months to live.
6. I have seriously thought of suicide.
7. I see a reason to be here.
8. My job and other activities give my life meaning.
9. I have little meaning in my life.
10. I spend my life doing what I "should" rather than what I want.
11. My job reflects my purpose.
12. I can state my purpose in a sentence.
Scoring: One for each "no" to statements 3, 6, 9 and 10; and one for each "yes" to others. The higher you score, the more involved you are in activities that give you a sense of meaning, direction and happiness. You're honest with yourself, enjoy life, and are probably achieving desired goals. Your various work, leisure and other activities reflect a unity of purpose.
A score of 6 or lower suggests you lack a clear sense of purpose. Your life may have little meaning and you appear to lack clear life or career goals. You may be bored, anxious, and aimless. To develop more meaning in your life, try the following.
Identifying your purpose will take time particularly if you're not used to looking inward.
- Identify what's important to you. Clarify what success means to you. Don't try to live up to others' expectations and definitions of success.
- Consider how you'd change your life if you knew you had six months to live. If you would change jobs, return to school, complete a project, travel, then get on with it! What's stopping you? Be honest.
- State what you'd do if you had billions. If you're working at something that has no meaning just to pay bills, you're making money more important than your sense of purpose. How could you make money doing what you really enjoy? Ross, a former accountant, earns lot of money making and selling his pottery.
- Identify personality traits you would choose if you could begin life today. Would you be more assertive, caring or other?
- Describe yourself without using labels. Specify human qualities, for example: “I am smart, creative, and a loving partner.” If you resort to labels such as job history or marital status, you may view yourself as a statistic rather than a special human being.
- Adopt a cause. Discover ways in which you can get involved in community or other projects in which you believe -- that enable you to express your purpose. Volunteer to help in a senior citizens' home, volunteer to be big sister or bother, join a community fire fighting or group that fights for a cause in which you believe.
- Identify major themes or patterns: 1) Proud accomplishments in any life area (social, work, school, civic); 2) What you want colleagues to say about you; 3) Absorbing childhood activities; 4) Recurring dream; 5) What you'd do if you couldn’t fail; 6) A prize you'd select (literary, athletic) for being the world's best; 7) What you'd wear to a costume party; 8) People you admire and why; 9) Skills you want to use in your ideal job.
Write a “working” mission statement describing your purpose based on recurring themes. Discuss your themes with a partner. Brainstorm how your purpose can be expressed in various life components. For example, if your purpose is to help others, you could express it at work by being a helpful sales clerk. In family activities, you may express your purpose by being a loving aunt. Don't allow age, lack of education, or physical disability stop you from expressing your purpose.
Dick's purpose is communications. He's been a successful magazine editor, author, broadcaster, photographer and evangelist. Charlene's purpose is caring for animals. She's made this into her business -- caring for pets during their families' vacations and waking dogs.
Barbara loves woodworking and cabinet making so she developed a business that enables her to offer these services to her community. Roy's purpose is helping people. He says, "Volunteers are unpaid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless." Roy volunteers for varied projects that help needy children.
Purpose is a common denominator for success. Knowing your purpose will give you courage to do what you've always longed to do. It will be easier to risk, to manage fear. You'll be able to change your life for the better.
But before pursuing a job that will enable you to express your purpose, research options. Then clarify a job goal that will enable you to express your purpose, and develop a plan to attain your goal. Be flexible as your goals may change as you get to know yourself and options better.
“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.” John D. Rockefeller