Finding Our Purpose And Meaning

Viktor Frankl the famous teacher, novelist, and Jewish Austrian psychiatrist, was severely beaten and tortured in a WWII Nazi concentration camp. He was fascinated how, at the lowest points of their lives, prisoners viewed their same horrible circumstances differently. Some wanted and begged desperately to die. He survived by envisioning himself, based around the lessons he was gaining, teaching students in a classroom. During his darkest hours, he asked himself, “What am I learning that I will someday teach my students?”

“At its core, the idea of purpose is the idea that what we do matters to people other than ourselves.” ~ Angela Duckworth (author of GRIT)

Prayerfully, we sometimes find our value in more self-reflective, positive, human caring moments – the ones that can be elusive for so many in our world. Our purpose can drive leadership, achievement, passion, and great works that benefit either just one other person or possibly humanity as a whole. Sometimes it’s asking ourselves, “Why am I taking this chance or stance in the face of personal retribution?” Maybe the answer is, we found our purpose. Bringing value to others must be explored and defined for us personally through our own thoughts and actions, not by being told by others. Where do I get my passion, energy, and talents to give to others and how do I get even more devoted to this purpose over time? It’s only truly beneficial when I define it for myself.

5 Simple Exercises To Find Our Purpose
Linda Sasser has done some excellent work in leadership and publishes great insight, including perspective on finding our purpose. Here are five things she suggests we can do to get some clarity, find our passion, and live our purpose starting today:

Write down all the things you absolutely love to do in life. Be outrageous, open-minded, honest, and creative.  It may make more sense later, but the point is to get inspired and let your imagination run free.

List the things you do with relative ease. The very things you’re passionate about may end up being your purpose, but because it’s so natural and under your nose, you may not even be     aware of it.

Look back at your personal history. We all have unique challenges we’ve had to overcome that give us a perspective nobody else has but us. What have we conquered with success and feel the need to share to make the world a better place?

Do I have a coach or mentor? Ask trusted friends, family, and professional coaches for perspective. If we’re stuck figuring out what lights our fire, and can’t shake off our own inner critic, it may be time for objectivity. Other people will see things that we don’t,  and can help guide us to find something hidden inside ourselves.

Ask these thought-provoking, self-discovery questions to get yourself processing:

  • What are the things you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it?
  • What do other people say you’re really good at, or that you should do more of, or do professionally?
  • What is the one thing you want to experience or accomplish before you die?
  • If I had all the money in the world, how would I spend my time?
  • What would your perfect day look like? Describe every detail.
  • What activities set your soul on fire?

Do I define my Purpose, or do I let others define my Purpose?

“I wish I’d had the courage to live the life I wanted, less the one expected of me by others.”
– #1 Regret of the Dying (Bonnie Ware- Hospice 2015)

Jim

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