There is a reason each and every one of us is placed on earth at the exact time that we are: we each have a unique gift (or more!) that is needed by the world during our lifetime. We are not here to simply enjoy ourselves for our own sake, but also to enhance the world through our innate skills − in short, to leave a legacy.
Most of us are familiar with the material legacies that people leave to their loved ones at the end of their lives, such as family heirlooms, property and money, and perhaps you have already taken steps towards arranging your material legacy. But have you considered what your non-material legacy is going to be? How your life would have shaped the world, at least in the places where you touched it? Are you aware of your natural gift(s) and actively using it/them to benefit the world?
If you are, congratulations! You are living a purposeful life, utilising your fullest potential and reaping the rewards of this; an inner fire that propels you forward towards your passion. On the contrary, living without purpose can feel like aimlessly wandering in a vast wilderness without a compass to guide you. While you may initially enjoy the sense of freedom and adventure, you can eventually tire from going from one thing to another without seeming to get anywhere meaningful or truly satisfying. Frustration will gradually set in from feeling that despite the time and effort you’re investing in different parts of your life, you still feel that there’s something missing.
How can you identify that missing ingredient, your life’s ‘north’ or purpose?
- Get Clear on Your Values
I don’t mean ethical values but what you value in life. Whether it’s freedom, adventure, connection, honesty, creativity, there are qualities that are imperative for us to have in our lives in order to be happy. Ask yourself what characteristics you admire most about yourself and in others, what qualities you cannot tolerate, and what you enjoy and loathe doing. This will give you a great idea of what you value. For example, honesty will be one of your values if this is a quality you admire yourself for, or if you absolutely cannot stand being around people who lie.
- Connect to Your Heart
Whilst thinking your way through life can have its advantages, when it comes to uncovering your purpose, it will be your heart that guides you to it. What do you love doing? What doesn’t feel like a chore to you and can do with love for long periods of time? What would you do for free? Is it writing? Talking to people? Engaging children in activities? Dancing? Designing bridges? If you’re not passionate about anything at present, what were you passionate about as a child? What used to make your eyes sparkle and heart skip a beat?
- Put It All Together
Allow your intuition to naturally join the dots between the values you identify and what you are passionate about. A magical cocktail begins to blend as you become more heart-centred and wisps of inspiration will come to you. At first these may seem ridiculous or alarming, for example, if you’re currently a successful lawyer who has values including freedom, fun and creativity, and as a child enjoyed building and flying kites – what now? Don’t worry; you don’t necessarily need to make such a literal and radical career shift! Instead, think of what impact you’d like to have on others while aligning yourself with your values and passions. Perhaps it’s that you’d like those who come into contact with you to fly high (like a kite)? How can you achieve this? Be guided by what comes up in response to this.
We each find our life’s purpose at different points depending on our own journeys and needs. What is shared, however, is the joy experienced by those who’ve uncovered their ultimate ‘why’ − the core reason for their existence.