During this time of New Year’s resolutions, there is one concept that isn’t as typical as losing weight, quitting smoking, or saving more money. This concept is discovering a life purpose. People don’t talk about breaking their resolution to find a life purpose perhaps in part because it just isn’t as measurable as those other goals.
For those feeling adrift after the holidays, a resolve to focus on a life purpose might be the best way to start off this new year. The good news is that unlike tracking weight loss or stopping an unhealthy habit, there isn’t a right or wrong so the pressure is off.
What’s a Purpose?
Before you get started on the work of finding out your purpose, it would be good to understand what is meant by “purpose.”
To have a purpose doesn’t necessarily mean to have a job or career. Certainly some people do find a way to make a living by doing something that feels like a calling or a purpose.
Valorie Burton is a professional speaker and life coach, as well as a best-selling author of books such as “Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable” and “Happy Women Live Better.” She helps people who are looking to improve their lives in many ways.
“I use the words purpose and mission interchangeably,” she says. “Your mission will apply in your personal life and your professional life; it is not about a job title or a role so if you are a marketing manager for a company, that’s not your mission, that’s not your purpose, but you may have a greater purpose around using communication to spread light and love in the world.”
In other words, Ms. Burton says, a purpose—or mission—is not a role. For example, if someone believes their mission is to be a parent that in itself is not their purpose. The purpose is something that they do for their child or children that translates to other relationships and settings.
Little Ole Me?
Over and over experts point out that a life purpose doesn’t have to be something big.
“Bottom line is: someone’s life is better because they crossed paths with you?,” Ms. Burton says.
Other tips for finding your true life purpose include:
- Is there something you so enjoy doing that you would do regardless of being paid to do it?
- If you are struggling to look inward, ask those you trust what they think you are good at.
- Look around. Is there a need to be filled in your community, in this world?
Remember that the purpose of one’s life may stay constant as there are other changes in life.
“What I believe is that your unique assignments change but your mission generally is very similar throughout your lifespan,” Ms. Burton says. “When we are clear about our purpose, life has much more meaning and a sense of meaning is directly correlated with greater levels of happiness and longevity. We need a reason to get up in the morning and it has to be more than just to go to work--there’s got to be a reason you’ve to go to work.”