Purpose– it’s a deep-seated feeling we all search for.
Some of us are lucky enough to find something we love and which gives us a sense of purpose and meaning early on in life. Others go decades lost and confused about what direction they should travel.
The latter was where I sat for years. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I started to get some sort of idea about what I was meant to do with my life.
And even then, when we believe we have found that something, there are times where we question ourselves and wonder if this is the right path for us to take.
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
– Helen Keller
So, you’ve found something you believe you were meant to do.
However, there’s still that shred of doubt whether what you’re doing, or plan to do, is the right path.
First, I want you to know that doubt is normal. No matter what you do, you’re going to doubt. You’re going to doubt your ideas, you’re going to doubt yourself, and you’re going to doubt that the outside world will be receptive to it all (if that applies).
However, regardless of all that, there are signs you can look for that will give you a good idea whether what you’re doing (or plan to do) now aligns with, or is, your purpose.
1. You’re excited to wake up in the morning (especially if you’re waking up without an alarm)
Want to know the easiest way to become an early riser? Get excited about your life– so excited that you can’t wait to wake up.
Seriously, though, if this is you then there is really only one of two possibilities:
- You’re legitimately in love with what you’re doing and it fills you with a sense of purpose.
- You’re temporarily excited and that excitement will die down (very) soon.
It could be the latter, but if you’re jumping out of bed in the morning it’s more likely that you’ve found something that fills you with a sense of purpose– something you could devote your life to. Just be careful of the deception of temporary excitement.
2. Time is no longer an issue
Let’s do a little exercise. Imagine you’re sitting at a table alone. I walk into the room and sit down across from you. I tell you that I have some bad news: it’s going to take you more than thirty years to accomplish your goal. Oh and there’s no guarantee you’ll accomplish it. Now, you’re left sitting alone with nothing to do but reflect on your life.
How do you feel after reading that? Chances are, you feel one of two things:
- Cringe: You feel almost instantly like giving up and could not imagine waiting that long to accomplish your goal.
- Unwavering: While not preferable, nothing will stop you from accomplishing your goal, even if it takes one hundred years. You’ll do whatever it takes.
How you reacted to the above scenario says a lot about whether you’ve found your true purpose in life.
If you’ve discovered what you were meant to do, you’ll drop everything to commit yourself wholeheartedly to the cause without worry for how long it will take you to get there (read the story of Edwin C. Barnes in Think & Grow Rich for an example of this).
On the other hand, if you haven’t discovered a true purpose that touches your heart, the thought of waiting decades to achieve your goal, or to get to that place, is uncomfortable and unthinkable.
3. You can answer the question, “What would you do if money weren’t an issue?”, without hesitation
While the first two are pretty definitive, this one takes the cake.
“What would you do if money weren’t an issue?”, is an age-old question. If you want to know whether or not you’ve truly found your purpose in life, there’s no better way to find that out than to answer this question.
A little forewarning, though– it’s tough to answer it honestly. Years ago, I asked myself this question. In fact, I did it several times before I was ever able to answer it honestly.
The problem is, for most of us, the question fires off our bullshit meter. We ask, “what would I do if money weren’t an issue?”, and then we think, “but money is an issue…”, and proceed to answer the question with a hint of subconscious bias which can be very hard to detect. Our answer ends up being somewhere between what our true purpose is and something safer and more predictable. We get closer, but not quite there.
What eventually worked for me is reminding myself before asking the question that I’m just pretending. Tell yourself, “you’re just imagining ‘what if’. No expectations.” then take a moment to imagine a scenario in which you received a large sum of money to make it more believable (from an unknown uncle Vernon, for instance). By doing so, you create a plausible scenario in which money is no longer an issue.
This simple shift in my thinking allowed me to open up and answer the question more honestly. In fact, that was the exact moment I realized my own purpose.
Purpose is something we all search for, but few of us have ever truly found it. Beneath a subconscious bias developed over decades of early life that tell us we need to get a job and find something dependable is something truly rare and special: a unique, deep-seated purpose that only we can realize.
Use these three signs to confirm you’ve found your purpose or to finally discover it for yourself.