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Find Your True Purpose

Finding purpose in life is one of those things that most people want. Whether we know it or not. As nice as it sounds, it can seem challenging to attain.

If you haven't spent a lot of time thinking about your own purpose, you might have some preconceived ideas about the purpose of life. These baked-in ideas about life often come from our family and the communities we grow up in. The purpose of our life is to get married and have kids. Or, maybe it's earning a certain amount of money or achieving a certain position in society.

But these types of achievements often don’t bring the kind of fulfillment that comes with finding your personal sense of purpose. A personal sense of purpose is less of a specific end goal and more of an ongoing impact on the world, large or small. Purpose is your why.

This personal sense of purpose guides and sustains you. Day to day and through the years. Even when you have setbacks and the world turns upside down, purpose gives you stability and a sense of direction. That’s why finding purpose is essential for living a happy, healthy life.

While asking what your purpose is can seem like a lofty question, it’s one worth asking. And trying to answer. Finding your purpose can unlock greater satisfaction and success in all areas of your life.

So let’s dive into the big questions: what is purpose in life, why it matters, and 12 steps to finding your purpose.

What is the purpose of life?

Philosophers have sought and debated "the purpose of life" for centuries. We won't try to answer that here. What matters is your purpose in life.

Most people will ask at some point, "Why am I here?" It can be a scary question or a thrilling one. Leaning into the discomfort of this existential question can lead to a better sense of self and more rewarding paths forward.

Your purpose in life is as unique to you as your fingerprint. We all have a particular set of talents, experiences, skill sets, and interests that light us up. Purpose is related to these, but it is your reason for being. It is why you get out of bed in the morning, even when the day is dreary, you're tired, and you know the tasks and challenges ahead are going to be hard or even boring.

Purpose is the long game, not the short-term goal. You never get to the end of it. However, even a strong sense of purpose can wear you down. That's why, ideally, your purpose blends with what interests you and brings you joy.

The concept is finding the overlap between what you love and the world needs with what you are good at and the world will pay for. You craft your sense of purpose from your passion as well as practical considerations.

If you’re lucky, you might have found your ikigai through your work. For example, a doctor hopefully believes their purpose is to help sick people or to ease suffering.

For others, finding meaning in our work and connecting it to our personal sense of purpose isn’t so easy. Between work, family responsibilities, and social expectations, we often abandon the idealistic version of ourselves that yearns to find a sense of meaning and purpose in life. We believe we have to make this tradeoff — that meaning and purpose can't exist with pragmatic considerations. But that isn't helpful.

You need a sense of purpose to sustain you over time. And even when life feels like a series of compromises, you can still discover and connect to your purpose by exploring what brings you joy and dedicating more time to it.

Why is finding purpose important?

Finding your purpose in life might sound like a nice-to-have, but it’s more important than you may think.

Living a meaningful life contributes to better physical health and mental fitness.It also reduces the risk of chronic disease. Multiple studies have even found that it can help you live longer.

Having a sense of purpose comes from feeling connected to others. Using your gifts in the service of others can help you find your true purpose, while isolation and loneliness can cause you to have an existential crisis.

You will probably find that your purpose changes throughout your life. Continuous growth and progress can help you stay connected to your purpose.

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