You feel how minutes go by. Hours go by. And days go by.
Days blend into weeks. Weeks turn into months. And months into years.
And you still can’t figure it out.
“What should I do with my life? What’s my life purpose?”
Whenever you ask those questions, your mind goes blank. And worse than that, you don’t even have a clue of what it could or should be.
You feel helpless. You feel desperate. You feel frustrated.
I understand the struggle you’re going through because I’ve been there. And sadly enough, there are a lot of people who are in that same place. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In today’s article, I’ll try to shine a light on this life’s most important question.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, so I can’t promise you that after reading this post you’re suddenly going to know what your life’s purpose is.
All I can do is share my experience and offer some ideas that might help you. Don’t get discouraged. You’re in the right place, because most people don’t even bother asking these type of questions. So keep reading.
Do You Make These Two Mistakes When Trying to Find Your Life Purpose?
What I see happening right now is that many people believe in one big MYTH that’s been promoted for toooo long. The myth is that you need to find one single mission or purpose in life.
First of all, I’m not so sure that you ever find or determine your purpose. I think that you discover it.
Discovering your purpose is really a life-long journey. You don’t just get out of bed in the morning and have a sudden epiphany. It develops over time. As you develop, so does your purpose. The more you grow, the more clear it gets.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t know what your life purpose is yet. In fact, in my experience I’ve found very few people who have discovered their one and only purpose in life. It rarely happens.
Second of all, in order to discover your purpose, you must make sure that you avoid the mistakes so many people have fallen into.
Let me show you what I mean.
When people face this subject, they tend to follow a certain pattern.
They go searching for books that could help. They ask their parents what they should do with their life. They talk to their friends. Or they search the web to see what others in that same situation are doing.
And sure enough, this might be helpful. Or is it really?
You see, every time you base your decisions on external sources, more often than not you’re going to be disappointed.
Just think about it.
Is it really your parents who need to tell you what you should do with your life? Is it your friends who need to tell you what to do? Have they found their mission in life themselves? If so, congratulations. But don’t forget. This is THEIR mission and purpose. Not YOURS.
Parents, books, friends and relatives can give you a clue towards the direction you need to follow. But in the end, YOU are the one who makes this decision. It’s YOUR life! YOU are the only one responsible for it and no one else, but YOU.
Don’t let others decide for you. Don’t let others tell you what you should do with your life.
Do You Have a Strong Enough WHY?
Instead of trying to find the answer outside, why not try the opposite? Let’s try to go WITHIN. And I don’t mean that in a spiritual, mystical or an esoteric way.
I’m talking about asking yourself some critically important questions that could set the course for a lifetime.
You probably know that if you want to come up with different results, you need to ask different questions. If you’re asking the same questions everybody does, you’ll invariably come up with the same answers.
So let’s try to pose some better questions. Get a pen and paper and try to jot down a few notes after every question. Ask yourself:
- What do I REALLY want?
- What are the things that give my life meaning?
- Why do I get out of bed in the morning?
Just stop and think about it for a second.
Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Most people say “Because I need to go to work, or to school, or whatever the case may be…”
Really? To me, that would be a good reason to STAY in bed.
They say, “Well, that’s what everybody else is doing!”
Well, that’s another reason to STAY in bed.
Why do you do what you do? What gets you up early in the morning and keeps you up late at night?
Please, don’t just read these questions. Stop and take a moment to think and jot down some ideas. Remember that your life doesn’t change by listening or by reading. Your life changes by implementing and executing on what you learn.
Still confused? Keep your pen and paper handy, ’cause we’re not done yet. What follows is a great exercise that is going to give you a better idea of what it is that you truly value in life.
Find Out What You Value Most With “The Funeral Test”
Before you start reading the next few paragraphs, please find a place where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Clear your mind of everything except what you’ll read and what I’ll invite you to do.
Don’t worry about your schedule, your business, your family, or your friends. Just focus on the next few lines and open your mind.
In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music.
You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.
As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself.
This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.
As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand.
There are to be four speakers. The first one is from your family, immediate and also extended — children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend.
The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person.
The third speaker is from your work or profession.
And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you’ve been involved in service.
Now think deeply.
What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life?
What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like their words to reflect?
What kind of son or daughter or cousin?
What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?
What character would you like them to have seen in you?
What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember?
Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?
Before you read further, take a few minutes to jot down your impressions.
Please pause here for a second and take the time to do this exercise. I’ll wait. 🙂
Done? OK, great!
This exercise comes from the legendary book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, written by Stephen Covey. I call it The Funeral Test, and it’s such a powerful exercise because it’s both emotional and thought-provoking. It suddenly makes you think about your core values, about what you truly want in life.
In the words of Stephen Covey:
If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral experience, you will find your definition of success. It may be very different from the definition you thought you had in mind. Perhaps fame, achievement, money, or some of the other things we strive for are not even part of the right wall.
That’s why it’s so important that you take the time to do the test.
Now, to make things clear, it would be helpful to say that the exercise above comes from the chapter on Habit #2, called: Begin with the End in Mind.
To Begin with the End in Mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and that the steps you take are always in the right direction.
Here’s Stephen Covey again:
“It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy – very busy – without being very effective.
People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them. People from every walk of life — doctors, academicians, actors, politicians, business professionals, athletes, and plumbers — often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition or a certain degree of professional competence, only to find that their drive to achieve their goal blinded them to the things that really mattered most and now are gone.
How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most. If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.
We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we Begin with the End in Mind.”
Each part of your life – today’s behavior, tomorrow’s behavior, next week’s behavior, next month’s behavior – must be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters most to you.
When you know clearly what you want out of life, you need to make sure that your daily activities are consistent with the vision you have of yourself. That each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole.
Ask yourself: Is what I’m doing daily help me achieve my end goal? Am I living consistent with that ideal NOW? Are my daily activities consistent with what I want to accomplish?
Most people don’t understand that success is a process. It doesn’t come overnight. It comes at a price and those who strive to live a better life have to pay it.
It simply amazes me how many people spend weeks and months planning their vacation but ignore planning their life. Don’t let it be you! Get clear on your ultimate “end” goals and line up every thing you do today (and tomorrow and this week etc…) to be in line with these ideals.
How to Turn Your Vision Into Reality
Here’s another insight:
“Beginning with the end in mind” is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.”
The idea is very simple: Everything (whether good or bad) is created twice: First in the mind and then in reality. FIRST, we must get clear on what we want. Then we create it in reality.
To demonstrate, let me ask you a question: Is it possible to see things that don’t yet exist? What do you think? The answer is YES, it’s possible. But HOW?
Here’s another question: When should you start building your house?
The answer: As soon as it’s finished.
Before you start building your house, you need to have an idea of how you want it to look like. You need to have a clear image of what you want before you create it. Actually, if you can’t see it, you’ll probably never have it.
In order to see things that don’t yet exist, you’ve got to start with some ideas and imagination. Jim Rohn calls this process, “Turning Nothing into Something”:
You need ideas that become so powerful in your mind and in your consciousness that they seem real to you even before they become tangible. Imagination that is so strong, you can actually see it.
Make those ideas tangible in three steps.
1. Imagine all of the possibilities.
2. Believe that what you imagine is possible for you.
These two things together are very powerful. But it’s not enough. We need to add a third ingredient:
3. Go to work to make it real.
This is how you make it tangible. This is how you turn nothing into something. You and I have to take advantage of this unique ability that only human beings have. No other life form can ever do this.
Discovering your life’s purpose is not like following a recipe for creating a delicious dish. Everyone’s purpose has it’s own spark of uniqueness. And everyone’s quest in life should be to discover what this uniqueness is and then have the courage to follow it.
I can’t give you the step-by-step formula or the fill-in-the-blanks template to get what you want. But I can offer you some ideas. And I hope that this article has served you well on that matter.
So, before you leave, keep these 3 ideas in mind:
- Begin with the end in mind and live with integrity to your ideals.
- Don’t follow the easy path. Don’t follow the path that’s been laid out by the society. Have the courage to follow your heart.
- Decide what you want and act as if you already had it.
You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.
I know we’ve talked about a lot of things today. So if you ever find yourself stuck again, feel free to come back and read this article one more time.
Even better, you can get a free downloadable PDF of this post. That way, you can always go back and read it when it’s most convenient for you.
Finally, let me give you a personal suggestion of what would be a worthwhile mission to have in life. That is: to grow and develop yourself to the highest of your potential and live the best life that you possibly can. Period.
If you found these ideas helpful, please feel free to share this article via Twitter, Facebook or any other platform of your liking. By doing this, you can help others find their mission in life and you will also help me spread the word. I would really appreciate it! Thank you! 🙂