Welcome to the second post of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show.
Today’s topic is one of — if not the most — common theme that comes up with my clients.
We might not all struggle with today’s topic, but it does concern something that most of us have at least pondered.
So without further ado, let’s get into it…
What are some concrete examples of helping someone find their purpose in life?
Life purpose! The life purpose question is an extremely and almost unfairly large question to ask of ourselves.
Not only the weight that comes with tying our existences to one sole purpose, but also the mental pretzels we put ourselves in seeking out such an answer. As I said, some people obsess over it, while others don’t believe their life has a purpose. Different strokes for different folks, but if it’s a question that DOES mean a lot to you, then there can be a lot of unrest until you find the answer.
It can be a very isolating feeling that comes with not knowing one’s life purpose. This is a very natural feeling because not only is one’s life different from all the rest: we’re also seeking an answer that pertains only to us.
Because of this, the roadmap is different for everyone. Just as there is not a concrete purpose that applies to everyone, there is not a concrete means of finding purpose. There are, however, concrete questions and strategies we can apply to help us FIND the answers that are unique to us, and that’s what we’ll go over here today.
Let's start there.
Fulfilling our Own Values
We’ll only deem ourselves successful or “on purpose” in life if we’re fulfilling our own values. Unless you feel these things are meaningful, fast cars, stacks of money, hot people in bathing suits and other things we see advertised so frequently are not things to base your life upon.
But we’re probably all adults on this podcast and already know that.
What we tend to not know, even as adults, are what our own values are. The first step towards finding life purpose is to identify them.
Identify that which is meaningful to you and take an honest look at how well-represented those things are in your daily life. Typically, the more distant you feel from having purpose in life, the more distant you are from living through your values.
“What” versus “Who” You Want to Be
Most people miss this step because we associate life purpose with goals we want to accomplish and WHAT we want to be rather than WHO we want to be. But accomplishments and achievements come and go. They also, in some cases, are more linked to what we want others to feel about ourselves rather than what we want US to feel about ourselves.
When we focus on who we want to be as people as opposed to the statuses we want to link with our identities, we’re in a better position to feel a sense of purpose and continual drive to be at our best.
But none of this is possible if we don’t know our values, and if, for you, discovering your values isn’t as simple as putting a pen to paper and soul-searching for a little bit, there are questions to ask that can offer some shortcuts.
Questions to Ask Yourself
First, you might want to consider what things you would like to try that you never have. What has always excited you but has lain dormant due to fear?
Action comes before motivation, and the more we resist doing certain things, exciting or unexciting, the more urges build up and the more our identity is forced to retreat. In the way of finding life purpose, this is extremely unproductive because it’s hard to know what we are here to do if we don’t give all parts of ourselves a chance to breathe.
So consider what you have wanted to try based on enjoyment, but also don’t be afraid to consider what you could try based on struggle. This might throw some people for a loop, but I often tell my clients to pick their struggle rather than their dream. There will be difficulty in any path we take, and choosing the difficulty that we respond best to can be an extremely wise course of action.
What do others hate putting up with that you don’t mind putting up with? Combat and life-threatening situations might sound like misery to most, but those who find pleasure in it might join the police or a branch of the military. Constant exercise might sound like misery to most, but those who find pleasure in it might become athletes or power lifters. Listening to people’s problems might sound like misery to most, but those who find pleasure in it might become therapists or hosts of the Optimal Living Advice show. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.
Take Time to Reflect
Just as useful as looking into things we can do in the future, however, is looking into things we’ve done in the past or are doing in the present. Take some time to reflect on the times in which you’ve been most fulfilled — even back to childhood. Of course there are plenty of changes you might’ve undergone since these times, but oftentimes we quiet our passions because we feel they’re somehow impractical.
It doesn’t mean we don’t still care for them, however. Even if you don’t choose to completely relive something from the past, you might be surprised to find bits and pieces of it that you can use elsewhere. If you used to love playing soccer, but you don’t any more, you might find that what really excited you about soccer and what you still care for is the use of your body and being part of a team.
Picking apart certain enjoyable elements will give you a good sense of new values that you want to integrate into your life and thus into your purpose. So pay attention to what has or does make you lose track of time, why it has that effect on you, and how that can be maximized in your daily life.
Now, the last thing I’ll say might sound contradictory to something I said earlier but just bear with me. It is true that life purpose is unique to us and about our own individual journeys. But lately, we’ve been exposed to a lot of dangerous advertising about “keeping your head down and doing your work,” “looking after ourselves” and “worrying about ourselves not others.”
This goes against the grain of who we are. We are meant to be a part of communities and only thrive when we work in communities and contribute to others. So while life purpose is unique to you, a great way of making that purpose feel meaningful is the effect it has on those around us.
So with respect to your needs and that which you enjoy, consider how you can make a difference in the world and make your purpose as much about bettering the lives of others as it about bettering your own life.
Not trying to plug myself here, everyone, but if you go to gregaudino.com, and sign up for my email list, you will get a free document that’s all about finding life purpose. Parts of it were referenced today but there is a lot more. So if you're looking for more insight into the depths of life purpose, consider signing up for that. And if you really want to sneak, you can just save the PDF and unsubscribe after that first email — I probably won’t notice the difference and it’s your life so you can do what you want to do with it!
If you have a question for me, submit your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to hearing what's on your mind. Take care.