How the heck do they do it?
How do some people not only find their true calling but also cruise through life, having found their purpose and staying on track with it?
Let’s be honest – we would all like to evoke and live with that kind of passion in our lives.
Because at the core of our desires is a yearning to live a life of meaning.
To make a contribution to others.
To experience love and growth.
I think everyone is searching for that “meaning”. But it’s not crystal-clear. It takes work to discover that and you may or may not find it. And that makes finding your life purpose all the more important.
Your life’s purpose is a pointer to what you really, really want. It’s your soul’s yearning. It’s a seat of true, raw passion that no amount of money can buy.
Your purpose is an inner urge to pursue something.
It’s that special energy that has a power to transform your life, should you choose it.
Have you experienced moments when you felt totally connected with a task you were pursuing? Perhaps you were in the “zone” while running a not-for-profit campaign, or helping someone by giving advice on their business.
Being in alignment with your purpose made you feel alive, connected and “in the flow”, which is great for your emotional wellbeing.
By association, your life purpose and passion will go hand in hand – in other words, if you have an awareness around what you’re tremendously passionate about, what lights you up, what drives you, you are close to discovering your life purpose.
If you thought finding your life purpose was a typically New-agey, woo-woo idea, think again.
There are innumerable studies conducted around the concept of having a purpose.
According to one research published in Psychological Science, “having a purpose in life has been a consistent indicator of healthy aging for several reasons, including the potential for reducing mortality risk.”
Another 2009 study of over 73,000 Japanese men and women found that those who had a strong connection to their life purpose tended to outlive their counterparts.
Not just that, having a sense of purpose helps you to build a quality of resilience. People with a sense of purpose can find a meaning in events that happen in their life, and make an informed decision based on that.
According to Andrew Zolli, author of Resilience, they are able to regulate their emotions and reappraise a situation cognitively while going through difficult experiences. This type of resilience to bounce back has positve effects on health and lead to long-term happiness over time.
The point? Like anything new in life, it’s best to let go of any preconceptions, meanings or beliefs you may have around the idea of "purpose" before you explore it further.
Can I share a secret with you?
I smile in retrospection when I think about my life just eight years ago. I had just started working in a multi-national e-learning firm as a software engineer, which I thought that was a “natural” thing to do, to pursue a career in software, while being disconnected from the “real thing”.
Of course, I was frustrated. I had a perfectly stable life and well-paying job but something didn’t click. For five years, I let it disappoint me. Yep, that’s five long years.
Until one day, I stumbled upon Steve Pavlina’s blog. If you’re mildly interested in personal development, you’ve read Steve’s work.
He is easily one of the most successful personal development writers out there with some very unconventional ideas.
I would read his material at any chance I'd get during work hours. I looked forward to doing it every day.
Eventually, I realised that what was missing in my day job, I was seeking in his material. I discovered my passion and curiosity for human behaviour – why we do the things we do, what drives us, how to be better at playing this game of life.
It was time to quit and move on to what I really, really wanted. The rest is history.
In 2012, I enrolled with TCI to become a Life Coach and it’s been a such an extraordinary ride. I’ve met some amazing people who have changed my outlook towards life, and in turn, I’ve had a chance to touch people's lives by helping them achieve lasting change.
It was a matter of choosing between the blue pill (sticking to the same uninspiring life) and the red pill (taking a leap of faith and discovering what else is possible).
Guess what I chose?
Let’s say you’re disconnected with your passion and therefore your life’s purpose. You’re directionless about it.
Fret not, because you have a lot of company there and most people feel the same.
If you do a quick look up on Google, you will find many techniques and exercises to find your life’s purpose. There is no one right method – and the best way to approach this is by asking a series of questions that resonate well with you.
Here is a list of questions I’ve compiled for you. Have a sit-down, contemplate and write what comes to you in answer to these:
1. What makes your heart sing?
In other words, what activities, hobbies, events, goals do you love working on?
2. What makes you lose track of time?
What makes you go, “Oh no, I forgot lunch!”?
Your mind will warp time when you’re in the zone. When was the last time that happened? What was the activity?
3. What would make your 7-year-old-self cry?
When I was a kid, I used to create stories in my head. I’d then “enact” them as if there were other people with me in the room. (No I wasn’t going mad).
It was a great creative exercise for my mind. I did it for the sheer joy of it.
And then, I grew up and for some reason, I stopped. Because I had more “worthwhile” things to do. Or it was childish to daydream and doodle away your time.
If I told this to my 7-year-old-self, she would probably cry.
What about you? What would make your 7-year-old-self cry?
4. What recurring dreams do you have?
If it’s recurring, it probably means something. Dig deeper down the rabbit hole, and see where the search leads you to.
5. What excites you the most?
We all have something that excites us. Something that makes us happy and passionate. That might just be your answer.
6. What kind of advice do people always ask you?
The best form of learning is by teaching. What are you good at? On what topics do people seek your advice? Is it health, relationships, wealth? Find out the overarching area in your life that you’ve got the chops for and dive into it.
7. If you had to leave your house all day and every day to do one activity, what would you spend it doing?
For most of us, old-fashioned routine and complacency are enemies of passion. If you had to beat this stuck state, what would you choose to do instead? If you were forced to leave the house, all day, every single day, what goal would you pick?
8. What do you read about?
Remember how I said I’d read Steve’s blog at every chance I could get? That gave me a huge clue about my area of passion. Watch your newsreader apps, your magazine racks, the books you read – what’s predominant?
9. What would you do if money didn’t matter?
What would you do if you had all the money in the world? An income wouldn’t matter, so the “right” professional careers that lack passion are out. What’s left?
10. What would you do if you didn’t care about other people’s opinions?
This is a biggie. Our three biggest fears are: Fear of failure, fear of not belonging and fear of the unknown.
The fear of not belonging is huge in humans. We want to feel a part of something larger than us. Naturally, we care about other people’s opinions. Unfortunately, a lot of BS also comes from that very thinking.
For a minute, imagine the possibilities if other people didn’t matter. Where would that take you?
11. Would you pass the “Rocking Chair Test”?
You’re 80 years old and sitting by the window sill on your favourite rocking chair. You’re blissful, happy and content looking back at everything you’ve achieved in your life in all those years. Which achievements matter the most to you? List them down.
12. What do you value?
A value is an emotional state we want to experience on a consistent basis. It’s what we stand for, and it guides our decisions.
Here’s a list of values you can download. List your top 5 values – a value match you’re living will lead to a state of emotional homeostasis, and this list will guide you toward your true calling.
13. What do you believe is possible for you?
Humans are creatures of habit – we like to self-impose limitations on ourselves in the name of “beliefs”. We go to extremes to protect our beliefs, even die for them.
But what if I told you all beliefs are hallucinations? We make them up based on what’s working for us, so we might as well make up ones that serve, support and nurture us. What are your core beliefs about your potential?
14. What one thing that you’ve done are you most proud of in your life?
Because if it’s made you proud, you’re bound to be passionate about it.
15. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Think about it – how would you like to be remembered? It’s a nice pointer to choose your personal path and keep course-correcting as you go.
16. What are your beliefs about destiny?
Do you believe your destiny is set in stone? Or do you believe we have a say and can write our own stories? Going back to #13, what serves you best?
Needless to say, the latter is more empowering and gives you a chance to be at “cause” rather than at the mercy of events that happen to you in your life. Such openness and receptiveness also gives you an opportunity to chase your life’s purpose.
17. During which experiences in your life did you feel most alive?
Because if something made you feel alive, chances are it was close to your true calling.
I’ve been asking myself these questions for the last few years. I’ve gotten better and better at it.
I can’t say I have found “the” purpose of my life – but it feels like I am close.
All of that wouldn't have happened if I didn't stumble upon Steve's blog that afternoon.
Perhaps you too are at that point in your life. You have a deep desire to make a difference and touch lives.
Perhaps you too are ready to live a life on your terms. You want to create a career around your chosen lifestyle. Connect with incredibly like-minded people who share the same path as you.
And right now, you're tired of being tired, looking for an escape, a change, a break through. You know it's time, because you've been ignoring the calling for so long.
It takes a burning desire and fascination to dig deeper, and I invite you to do the same. So what’s it going to be for you?