Suppose you’re wondering how to find purpose in life. Well, congratulations! You’re among many who are struggling trying to find their place in the world.
The truth of the matter is — everyone has a purpose in this world. And that’s a good thing because, without it, people would be useless.
However, not everyone finds it. It’s sad, yes, but many people go through life doing trivial and senseless stuff. They chase fleeting pleasure and gratification without ever finding their one true passion and what they’re supposed to do in life.
That sounds dreary, right? As a child, I always thought I’d find my purpose in life quickly. I’d grow up and just know what I was put on this Earth to do.
In reality, it took me a long time to finally figure out how I’m supposed to contribute to society. Because that’s what it’s all about, right — doing something bigger than yourself and more important than ephemeral pleasure.
But how did I do that? Here are nine steps to learning how to find purpose in life.
Step #1. — Do Your Research
Every search in life should start with good old research. You don’t necessarily have to sit down and actually research different purposes in life (although that couldn’t hurt).
Research is all about finding out new things. So, open up your mind to new ideas by reading. Avid readers often have a stronger sense of purpose because their reading material inspires them and gives them ideas.
Reading gives people insight and knowledge about situations they’ve never experienced. If nothing else, it’s a great practice run for life. You see all these different characters and how they deal with life’s curveballs, and you gain some sense of how you’d react in those or similar situations.
So if you’re not sure how to find purpose in life, turn to fictional (or nonfiction) characters in books and see if they have any words of wisdom for you.
Step #2. — Talk to People
Talk to as many people as you can about their interests, passions, and purpose in life. And I don’t mean, “Ask your best friend and stop there.” No, ask everyone.
Sure, approaching strangers might be awkward, and the conversation will certainly be stilted at first. But, approaching people to ask them about their passion projects and their purpose in life is a great tactic.
Firstly, you might find out something new. Maybe there’s a particular project you never knew about or a way of doing something that you never thought of before that only sparks your interest after that convo with a stranger.
Of course, the second reason this is a good tactic is that it will make you more sociable. That’s never a bad thing. What’s more, your purpose in life will most likely have something to do with helping others, so you might as well start broadening your social circle now.
Step #3. — Ask for Their Feedback
There’s a good chance you’ve already found your purpose in life. You just don’t know it yet.
Maybe your job or your hobbies and interests you pursue are actually your life’s purpose. Many people don’t see themselves as clearly as others do, which is why they have trouble recognizing not only their purpose but also their passions and likes and dislikes.
So, if somebody else tells you, “But you already have a purpose,” listen to them! Sometimes introspection can only do so much, and you need an outsider’s point of view.
Step #4. — Let Those With Purpose Inspire You
This one sounds easy, right? While talking to strangers about their passions and purpose, you’ll find some people who clearly know theirs. They are pursuing their purpose in life actively and unapologetically.
I used to envy these people. How did they do that? How did they find their purpose so quickly and effortlessly while I’m struggling with the mere concept of it?
I think this reaction is normal. However, do try to push away from it. Instead of envying those people, admire them, and let them inspire you. Maybe they’ll give you some ideas. Alternatively, their positive energy might rub off on you, and you’ll become more vigorous in your quest on how to find purpose in life.
Step #5. — Take a Good Look at Your Skills (That Come Easily to You)
Many people think their purpose has to be entirely separate from what they do. They think, “OK, I’m a baker, that’s my vocation, but it has nothing to do with my purpose, right?”
Well, not necessarily. When asking yourself how to find purpose in life, don’t look away from your skills. Instead, look to them to find inspiration and, potentially, your real purpose.
Everyone has specific talents, strengths, and given or acquired skills. There has to be something that you’re good at. So, look for the things that come easily to you. Those things might not be your true purpose, but they might be clues for finding it.
Maybe you have a knack for dissolving tension. When two people are arguing, all you have to do is crack a joke to get them out of their heads and bring them back to reality.
Now, you probably won’t declare this your life purpose and start approaching fighting people in the streets to try to make them feel better with your shining personality, right? Of course not, but you might consider this skill as a way to find your purpose.
Maybe it’s something as simple as making people laugh. Or, perhaps you’re meant to be a mediator in war-affected areas. The spectrum is broad, so don’t limit yourself.
Step #6. — Pay Attention to What People Turn to You For
Similarly to the previous step, this one is all about acknowledging your skills. More often than not, people’s purpose in life lies in their strengths.
So, if you can’t figure out what yours are, pay attention to what other people ask you to do for them. Do people often ask you to help with one particular thing (or a few)? Those are your strengths.
You might not recognize it or think it’s such a big deal, but other people clearly disagree. If many people you know approach you with the same pleas for help, then you must be talented or skilled when it comes to them.
Step #7. — If You Put Passing Pleasures Aside, What Really Matters?
Today, getting to work a bit earlier so you could enjoy your coffee in peace might matter. Tomorrow, going out with friends might be the most crucial thing in the world.
However, those are fleeting pleasures. Sure, you’ll enjoy those things, and they might make your day better. But will they fill you with gratification?
They probably won’t, because people are more pleased and happy when they do something for other people rather than themselves. Those values are more important than personal satisfaction.
So, the next step in answering the question of how to find purpose in life is to figure out what really matters to you. To do that, you have to look at your interests.
Step #8. — Explore Your Interests
If there’s a topic or an issue you’re incredibly passionate about, you might have already found your purpose. Look to your interests to answer the question of your life’s goal because, if the answer doesn’t lie in your skills, then it surely lies in your interests.
I found out that you can’t exactly do anything purposefully unless you’re passionate about it. In other words, you have to really be interested. No one ever said, “My purpose in life is saving the ocean life, but I do it reluctantly because I don’t really care about the environment,” right?
Step #9. — What Do You Love to Do?
Do you know that quote by Bukowsky, “Find what you love, and let it kill you?”
That’s a bit extreme, in my opinion. However, find what you love and let it consume you is entirely fitting. To figure out your purpose in life, try to answer the following questions:
• Which injustices bother you?
• What would you do if money wasn’t an issue for you?
These are vital questions because the answers will reveal not only your passions but also your purpose. If you had all the money in the world, you could do whatever you wanted. What’s more, you could do it without consequences for your livelihood.
Consider what that might be. Perhaps the way society treats homeless people is one of your pet peeves. It’s an injustice that really bothers you, and you’d like to do something to help.
Well, maybe that’s your purpose. You don’t have to drop everything in life to pursue it, but when you become aware of it, it will be easier for you to find ways to honor it somehow.
Maybe you’ll volunteer in shelters in your free time, or use your business connections to organize fundraisers, or simply make sandwiches on the weekends and hand them out to homeless people on the streets.
Everyone thinks their purpose has to change the world in a huge way. It doesn’t. No matter how small your contribution is, it still matters. More importantly, it will still make the world a better place.
A Few Parting Words on How to Find Purpose In Life
Your quest to find a purpose in life isn’t an easy one. What’s more, it isn’t something that you can get done over the weekend.
Some people are lucky, and they find their purpose quickly and effortlessly. If you’re not one of them, don’t worry. The answers will come to you as long as you don’t give up on finding them.
If you’re wondering how to find purpose in life, just follow these steps all the way to your answer. Remember — it’s an uphill battle. But it’s worth it because the answers will change your life forever.