Are you clear on what your life is all about?
A clear life purpose is crucial to happiness and living life to the fullest. You must know where you are going to get there and you will only know where you are going when you know who you really are.
The trouble is that most of us have never taken the time to clarify in our minds who we are. We have never committed ourselves specifically to any purpose. We also often have entirely the wrong idea about what a life purpose looks like.
Let’s clarify the idea of what a life purpose is so we can define our own. If you are skeptical about the need for defining your purpose, then I’d encourage you to read why I think a life purpose is so important.
The Wrong Idea About Life Purpose
Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. ~ Helen Keller
It is important that we know what a life purpose is NOT before we define one. I used to think that a life purpose was a specific cause that I could devote my life to like saving the whales or feeding the poor or raising my kids.
These noble efforts are the products of a life purpose, but they are not the purpose itself. A life purpose has to be something we can devote our entire lives to.
Technically, you could finish saving the whales and hopefully my kids will one day be self-sufficient adults. But, you can’t complete a life purpose. Your life purpose keeps you going and when one goal is met, it redirects you to another.
Trying to define my life purpose by a specific cause didn’t work because I could never focus on just one cause for very long. Therefore, I felt like my life purpose was wishy-washy. This feeling came about because I had the wrong view or definition of a life purpose.
Other people often think their life purpose is to just fulfill every want, desire and craving they experience hoping it will produce happiness. Of course, this too is the wrong view of your life purpose because we are never satisfied.
The pursuit of our own happiness through self-gratification lacks significance. We were meant to spend our lives in a worthwhile manner and we are always left feeling empty when we simply bow to our yearnings.
The Correct Way to Define Your Life Purpose
As Helen Keller points out in the quote above, true happiness is attained through fidelity to a worthy purpose. Let’s examine this a little more closely.
Fidelity means devoting loyalty and attentiveness to something. It also implies a sense of faithfulness. Your life purpose needs to be broad enough to have longevity so you can commit to it over the long haul even as circumstances change.
Therefore, your purpose needs to be worthy of your fidelity. Our commitment wanes when something is not worthy of our continued attention. A purpose is worthy when it is based on honorable and admirable values.
As I mentioned in my earlier article, the strongest purposes are focused on developing positive character traits, pursuing spiritual growth and exhibiting moral courage. These are themes that warrant our fidelity to a worthy purpose.
Okay, so how do you define a clear life purpose? Well, here is what worked for me:
1. Pick 3 or 4 values that really resonate with you.
Look over a list of values and pick out three or four that are the most important to you. Take your time with this. It is important that these values are things you feel truly passionate about. I created my initial list and then mulled it over for a few days before I decided firmly on my four values.
2. Unpack the words that you selected.
Take some time and write out what the three or four values you selected mean to you. Discuss them with your mate or a close friend. How do they feel to you? They should feel inspiring. They should ignite your imagination and motivate you. If they do, then you have identified values worthy of your long-term fidelity.
2. Use your selected values to formulate your life purpose.
A good life purpose is a simple statement that has strong meaning for you. I think the simpler the better. I prefer something like this sentence (insert your values):
I want to spend my life pursuing ___________, ____________ and _____________.
For example, I want to spend my life pursuing wisdom, patience and peace. Of course, you can word it any way that you like, but for me this sentence really helped me clarify my life purpose.
Defining Your Life Purpose Is a Big Step in the Right Direction
It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement. ~ Mabel Newcomber
This is the easiest and best way I have found to define a clear and meaningful life purpose. I love it’s simplicity. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of having a clear life purpose that you reflect upon frequently. It is the map that guides all your actions and that will lead you to a full and rewarding life!
What are your three or four most important values to pursue?
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