The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain
“What is the meaning of my life?”
“Should I seek a higher purpose?”
These are some of the questions that come up during my conversations with my clients and friends. The conversations are usually about purpose driven leadership and finding the meaning and relevance of life. These conversations also reveal the anxiety and emptiness as they live their lives by default and not by design. Deeper exploration brings forth the fact that it all boils down to lack of clarity of purpose in life or it’s absence. The big challenge is about understanding the essence and importance of purpose and how to find happiness. Individuals are so burnt out doing what they need to do that they start feeling undeserving of happiness. Personal power is affected and intrinsic motivation diminished.
A simple straightforward response to these questions is that Purpose is the driving force that inspires us to jump out of bed every morning and align our daily choices with that one overarching purpose. It’s literally the unique reason to live. It couldn’t be a purpose or vision to be a fantastic parent – perhaps a purpose to contribute towards global warming or world peace – it could be anything – no purpose is big or small. It’s simply unique to everyone!
However, in the real world, as we know it, a vast majority of people don’t have clarity of purpose and it seems like a humungous task to go about identify one. – not knowing that it exists within them. Also, meaning and purpose in life cannot be created – we discover it.
It’s also imperative to be aware that each one of us has a reason for being which is neither stagnant nor rigid. The reason or purpose is something that exists in a point in time and can be adjusted and transformed.
Intent for Purpose and having a mission statement adds richness and meaning in life, however ‘hyper intention’ or being obsessed with the purpose or objective could be counterproductive. It will keep the desire from being fulfilled. Rather than worrying about it, taking the first step to get into the flow takes care of the stress and anxiety around it.
Through my conversations with my clients who discovered their larger purpose, I observed a mystic change and tangible pattern emerge. Individuals who were able to identify and explore their personal vision and mission and are aware of their legacy, can pay attention to their daily choices. This facilitates integrity & ethical behaviour. It also helps maintain focus and inspire others.
Purpose once identified activates a flow of awareness, optimism, and intrinsic drive – motivation that comes from emotion and from within. These individuals can make choice and demonstrate ‘inner passion and fire’ and are able to articulate beyond the tangible message to articulate the driving purpose.
Medical science has established that people with purpose in their lives are less prone to disease & illness.
How do we discover Purpose? Is it a defined process? My passion, mission, vocation, and profession converge to create my Ikigai – my purpose of creating vision and transforming lives though coaching and coach education. Through my years of coaching, I have experienced clients define their purpose through exploring four areas
- What do I love doing?
- What am I good at?
- What the world needs?
- What can I be paid for?
Exploration in these areas creates awareness about WHO they are and WHY they want to do WHAT they want to do. The unique responses have a common revelation that most people are searching for meaning outside of ourselves. The inner self is mankind’s least explored area. While we struggle in this search for purpose, living as is expected and not from the heart, we lose connection with ourselves and feel despair with little or no intrinsic motivation governing our decisions.
Purpose is therefore the key to navigating the complex, volatile, ambiguous world we face today. There’s no perfect strategy for finding Purpose. Its decisions made through being present and aware.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us, unplayed”.
Do we want to go that route? The decision is ours to discover who we are and what makes us distinctive.
So, let’s work on creating a higher level of awareness because life without a purpose is like being out at sea without a compass and map. Let our intuition and curiosity be our internal compass as we determine be led by this compass to lead more meaningful lives.
Visualise your purpose using the four prompts above and think about what you loved doing before the world told you what you should be doing. How do you feel about overcoming challenges? Connect with the joy of finding your Ikigai – that will give you purpose and joyfully start each day!
And yes, Ink it – don’t just think it!! 😊