Who Needs A Purpose?
There are a ton of reasons why knowing your purpose is a great thing. Many books have been writing about purpose and chances are that many more will be written in the future. When you know your purpose, this is great. The books are awesome, and you can follow the steps to live out your purpose in a great way.
All too often, however, people struggle to know or define their purpose. You can feel lost when you don’t know your purpose. You might feel like you are stuck in one place and spinning in circles.
You may ask, what can you do without a purpose? Anything. Just as you might be lacking a sense of direction without a purpose, you are also lacking any limits. I would propose that you impose one single limit on everything you do without a purpose. Make it worthwhile. Worthwhile of you and your time. And only one person gets to make that determination. That person is you. No one else’s opinion matters on the scale of worthiness.
Now, let's define worthwhile. Oxford defines worthwhile as, “worth the time, money, or effort spent; of value or importance”.
When you stop looking for a driving factor behind your existence and start looking at smaller things that you can do that are worthwhile, you just may find ways to use your talents and gifts. You will find ways in which you can make a difference. You will find things that meet the Oxford definition of worthwhile and pique your interest as well.
If your goal in knowing your purpose was to give back to the world in your own unique way, you will find ways to do that if you just keep doing it. A life spent doing things that are worthwhile is no less meaningful than one spent in pursuit of a single ideal. In fact, “worthwhile” may be your single ideal.
So, how do you find meaning in your life without knowing what your purpose is? Here is a simple plan.
- Stop looking for that purpose. Don’t spend any more mental energy on this. The next time you find yourself lamenting the fact that you don’t know your purpose, choose instead to think how lucky you are to live in a world of possibilities. Don’t just pass that one by. Literally, say out loud “I am grateful that I am able to live in a world filled with endless possibilities for me.”
- Find meaning in what you are currently doing. Whatever it is that you do daily, think of one person that might be better off because of it. If we talk extremes here, you might be the surgeon who saved numerous lives today. Or maybe all you did was order a pizza, but the tip you gave the driver might have helped him pay an important bill for his family. Most of us fall in between, but we all do something to benefit others daily.
- Look for ways to increase that meaning. What can you extend or enhance what you are currently doing to make it more worthwhile in the lives of others or even your own life? How can you magnify the significance of what you do?
- Look for new opportunities. While you are doing what you do, is there something else you would like to do? Are there other people you want to impact? Is there something you have been longing for? Don’t think of this only in terms of occupation. Think about hobbies, acts of service, or ways to deepen your faith.
- Be grateful for all you get to do. In step one, I mentioned being grateful. Now take it one step further and begin a daily practice of gratitude reflecting on everything that you get to do.
- Imagine a life filled with worthwhile opportunities. On a regular basis, close your eyes and try to imagine as many worthwhile opportunities as you can. Over time, your options will increase by many orders of magnitude and you will never run out of worthwhile things to fill your time.
This is a list I have used when working with people who could not define their purpose and felt that held them back. If you follow this list for an amount of time, you will most likely find that you have added and removed items from this list and that is good. This list is just a starting point for a journey that you will ultimately define. Until then, take this list and your impact on the world. In doing so, you may find a specific passion or purpose. Or you just may do a ton of worthwhile things with your life. Either way, you win.