Research Paper By Hayley Summers
(Life Coach, UNITED KINGDOM)
34 ways to find your life purpose
This thought leadership article explores life purpose and argues against the idea that our life purpose has a single theme. It presents an alternative theory, that life purpose is comprised of lots of smaller elements and discusses the arguments for this theory. There are 34 practical ways to explore life purpose and uncover the smaller elements that make it up. The article is aimed at women in their 20s and 30s.
What is life purpose? – The soundtrack to your life
Purpose, it keeps you going strong, like a car with a full tank of gas– Avenue Q
The Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota defines life purpose as “the central motivating aims of your life – the reasons you get up in the morning”, but it’s come to mean so much more than that. Most of us get up in the morning, yet many of us would say we don’t know what our life purpose is. Many of us have “central motivating aims”, yet we still feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
Life purpose has lots of names:
- Your calling
- Your destiny
- Your dreams
- What you want to do with your life
- What makes your heart sing
- What lights you up
- Your passion
For many of us, ‘life purpose’ and its synonyms conjure images of something huge and full of ‘meaning’, something ‘worthwhile’. Life purpose is our soundtrack, and that without it, the movie of our life just doesn’t make sense. We go through the motions, we act out all the scenes, but without Berlin belting out Take My Breath Away it all feels a bit flat. So we start searching for our soundtrack, we listen to our iTunes library from start to finish, we scour Spotify and we maybe even check out our parents collection, but we come up empty. Nothing fits – why?
It doesn’t exist. Your soundtrack isn’t a single song, instead it’s a combination of hundreds of hand-picked notes, and it’s your job to pick them. Defining your life purpose is taking notes that you like, putting them together and seeing if you like the sound. Sure, you can add the odd famous riff, or mix a mashup of some well-known classics, but just picking one song? That’s no fun!
Doing the things you love – The notes
The notes of your soundtrack are the things you love, that light you up, that make you forget about time or whether you’re hungry. They’re that feeling of contentment and that you’re doing exactly what you need to be. They’re taking a beautiful photo, recruiting the ideal candidate or icing a cake. They’re taking a long bath, reading with the kids or speaking on stage. They’re walking the dog, having a breakthrough or making the numbers add up. They’re found in our work and in our play, in our relationships and in the quiet moments when we’re alone.
Need convincing? – Why your soundtrack should be a series of notes
Up until now you’ve probably been searching for one overarching theme to live your life by. So, why should you start looking for lots of smaller ones?
You’re going to change, and so will the things that light you up. Are you going to enjoy all the same things you do now when you’re 80? Do you still enjoy the things you did when you were 18 now? Is your career going to have the same meaning if you have kids? I’m sure some things will be themes for life, but others won’t, and it would be a pity to miss out on these too.
Letting go of a life purpose is easier if you have lots of little ones, rather than one defining one. You might grow out of it or circumstances out of your control might take it away – the loss of a loved one, an injury or illness, the breakdown of a relationship, redundancy. How does a runner shine if they can’t run? Having one life purpose is putting all your eggs in one basket, and maybe that’s fine for eggs, but is it a gamble you’re willing to take with your happiness?