Do you feel stuck in a routine, doing the same repetitive things day after day? Are you so caught up in your day to day grind you never have the time to even think about your dreams, yet work toward them? Unfortunately, most of us do not have a planned purpose or passion in life; we are not fulfilling our life. We work hard every day but usually our time is not directed toward our purpose and meaning in life. When all of our daily activities are spent doing things that are not directed toward our passions and dreams, we can be left feeling very empty; we begin to feel our life has no meaning.
These empty feelings will not go away until we start to spend our time on what gives us purpose and meaning in our life. The following are ten tips I would like to share with you from two books I read, 18 Minutes, Find your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman and Your Life on Purpose by Matthew McKay, Ph.D.
1) First you need to pause to take time to think about what matters to you. Regular rest stops to orient your thinking toward what it is in life that is important to you is a pivotal first step.
2) Diversify your passions and interests. When you connect your identity too closely to a few routine daily activities, you can lose sight of your “self” when change happens. For example, who are you if you lose your job? Who are you if you become injured and cannot play the sports you love, connecting you to people? Who are you when your children leave home? When you diversify your life around a variety of life passions and interests, your identity will remain intact when one of the parts of your life changes.
3) Rather than investing your time into short term pleasures and safe feelings, pursue self-growth values that are important to you. Write down what is important to you in the following personal growth areas: your health, spirituality, creative pursuits, personal growth and education, self-kindness, compassion toward others, leisure time, and career growth.
4) Think about what you enjoy doing over and over again. What are your natural gifts? What are your obsessions? We all enjoy doing what we do well, so look to these areas to identify your talents, interests, and passions.
5) How can you use your self-growth values in combination with your talents and passions to benefit other people? When you cross your personal growth values with your talents and passions to serve others, it will fill your life with purpose and meaning. The act of sharing yourself will add value to others. When you serve others with no personal motivations, you are giving a gift of yourself from your heart. It is the giving of yourself to others that gives you the gift of love and fulfillment in return.
6) Openly share your dreams and goals with others. Telling others about your intentions will serve to propel you into actions directed at accomplishing your life’s purpose.
7) To be successful at pursuing your life’s purpose, you must gradually shift the amount of time you spend away from the things that are less important to you. It can be easy to lose your direction and focus among the day to day clutter of life. Over time, you must work at shifting your time from those things that either alienate you from your purpose or are neutral in your life compared to the things that really matter to you.
8) Do not simply react to events, but rather react to achieve the desired outcome. We are all faced with a continuous flow of events every day; many of these events will produce unproductive, emotional reactions from us. When you are faced with events, focus on your purpose in life; offer a reaction that will give you the outcome you want; an outcome that is directed toward your life purpose.
9) Do not search for confirmation from others, do not be concerned about being right or wrong, or following the crowd. Being wrong simply gives us an opportunity to learn; straying from the crowd provides us with the opportunity to offer real value to others. The only thing that is important is that you are following your heart every day and pursuing what is important to you.
10) Be prepared to overcome the barriers in your mind that can hold you back from fulfilling a life of purpose. One of the biggest challenges you will face will be your negative thoughts and self-talk arising out of your fears. Your own mind will offer you your biggest challenges: fears of the unknown, thoughts about what can go wrong, and judgments about your future actions. Your goal will be to develop a new, healthy relationship with your thoughts; you must come to understand that your thoughts are not you; your thoughts do not need to be trusted, listened to, or believed. The only way your thoughts can block you from pursuing your mission is if you give them power. When you avoid facing your fears, you give them the power to control your life. You can overcome the power of your thoughts by moving forward toward your purpose and experiencing your fears. You must learn to take your fears with you on your journey. As you experience your fears they will gradually subside.
Once you are spending your time doing what builds your personal values, utilizing your talents, pursuing your passions, working with people you enjoy, and adding value to others, you will have successfully found purpose and meaning in your life.