Change is a constant, though some changes have more impact than others. A major shift in your life or in the world in general often leads you to reassess your attitude and approach.
That includes your job. Even if you’ve enjoyed your job in the past, finding your enthusiasm has faded means finding a new purpose in life. You may decide it’s time to stop enduring your job and find one that truly fulfils you.
It follows that having a sense of purpose in life is a gamechanger. The mundane becomes bearable and the hard work feels energising and worthwhile. To experience this revitalisation of your career, to find a new purpose in life.
To discover it, you need to ask yourself an important question first.
Why have you lost your purpose in life?
There are many factors that may have led to you losing your purpose in life. But the root cause is likely to be a shift in your values.
When your values are being met, life and work feel congruent. You’re motivated by your goals and work is satisfying and stimulating.
For example, you were probably young and inexperienced with high ideals and lofty ambitions when you started your career. You had a desire to achieve big goals, so you chose a career that would allow you to do that. The hours may have been long, but your work felt purposeful.
Skip forward a few years and things have changed. Perhaps you’ve met the love of your life and want to put down roots and start a family. Perhaps there have been changes in your own life such as parenthood, illness, the loss of a loved one or financial problems. Maybe your big goals have started to look unachievable or empty. Or perhaps the world around you has changed, for example over recent years there’s been a financial crisis, new technology means your industry is shrinking, there’s a new player who’s disrupted the market. Whatever’s happened, work just isn’t working for you anymore.
Eventually, you realise that the role you chose when you started your career isn’t working now. You need a change that reflects new goals and desires.
How will you know it’s time for change? You’ll notice signs of dissatisfaction, like feeling bored, distracted and unexcited by your work. You’ll feel restless and start wondering why you’re doing what you’re doing. Whether your unhappiness is new or has been dogging you for years, it’s important that you make a change or you’ll risk getting stuck, fearing the new and hating the old.
But how do you discover your new purpose in life?
5 ways to discover your new purpose in life
It isn’t always easy to identify your purpose in life, especially when you’re looking for something new to ignite your passion. When you’re busy, it’s especially difficult to make time and create space for thinking and reflecting. So here’s some help to get you started, including six ways to begin discovering what matters to you and why.
Read books that matter to you because they might help you see what’s important in your life. Reading will also add to your sense of connection, inspire ideas and simply distract you while your brain works in the background to find answers for you.
Turn pain into healing
Your own or another person’s pain could lead you find a new purpose in life. When you or those around you experience painful problems, you may be moved to help or find a solution. When you have a deeply held passion to achieve good for others, this will often ignite a powerful sense of purpose that will drive you forward.
Gratitude is a powerful and positive emotion that’s come to the fore recently because it has been found to have a positive impact on mental health. It’s easy to take what you have for granted, but when you express gratitude, you begin to see how much you have and remember how much it means to you.
Join or start a community
If you’re having trouble finding your purpose, take a look at the people around you. What do you have in common with them? What are they trying to be? What impact do you see them having on the world? Is that impact a positive one? Can you join with them in making that impact? What do they need? Can you give it them? If the answers to those questions don’t inspire you, then you might need to find a new community—and with that, a new purpose may come.
Tell your story
Purpose often arises from curiosity about your own life. What obstacles have you encountered? What strengths helped you to overcome them? How did other people help you? How did your strengths help make life better for others?
How do I discover my passion in life?
If your work is going to be truly meaningful, you need to discover your passion in life. Without passion, your purpose won’t have any fire in it.
Your passion won’t be driven by the material rewards that come from work, but the emotional satisfaction from achieving a goal or objective that feels worthwhile. The source of most passions comes from the desire to make a contribution to the world and bring you closer to others. It’s about achieving a greater sense of connection and community.
But how do you discover yours?
Focus on what you enjoy
What are your interests and passions? What did you enjoy doing when you were younger, like when you were a kid or a teenager? What have you given up because of lack of time or because it didn’t feel relevant anymore?
- Write down a list of 5 interests you enjoy doing now.
- Write down a list of 5 activities you used to enjoy doing as a child.
- Is there anything that links them or is there a goal buried in any of them?
There are lots of clues in what you enjoy – or used to enjoy. It can show you have a desire to perform, learn, create or leave something for posterity. Think about how your interests and hobbies might help you focus your life on work that’s more meaningful to you.
Even if you don’t incorporate your hobbies and interests into your job, you could find certain aspects of them provide clues about what elements you want to have in your next role or career.
Once you’ve identified your values and passions, you’re ready to make some decisions about what you want to achieve. That means setting some goals.
How do I find my purpose later in life?
What you wanted to do when you were in your twenties or thirties may not be what you want to do in your forties or fifties. And that’s fine. Who said a career was for life anyway?
Fortunately, finding your purpose later in life is no different than finding it at any other time. The only difference is that you’ll have the advantage of experience to guide you.
Remember that you can find a new purpose at any stage in your life. It’s never too late, because your values and passions aren’t static.
How do I know what my goals are?
You’ve heard about the importance of goal setting – we all have. You know that people with written goals succeed and you might have read all about achieving ambitious goals.
The problem is that these stories assume a goal has deliver a huge, public result, one that often involves money. But this isn’t true.
A goal is simply something you’d like to do or achieve. Of course, it could be about material wealth and possessions, like buying a house or a fast car. But it’s far more likely to be about achieving a specific result – possibly one that only matters to you – and possibly about helping others in some way too.
Importantly, goals aren’t about what you should do, they’re about what you want to do. They’re driven by your passion and a desire to feel proud of yourself and satisfied with what you’ve done.
Of course, the most important aspect of goals is that they give you direction and focus, so you know what you’re aiming for and how you can plan to get to that destination.
How do I write a life purpose statement?
It’s all very well doing all this work to uncover your life purpose, but it’s no good if you lose sight of it or forget the details. That’s why it’s important to write it down.
A personal purpose statement defines who you are. It reflects your passions and values. It provides clarity as you set goals. It doesn’t have to be more than a few sentences. As long as it’s specific, clear and aligned with your core values, you’ll find it useful.
A personal purpose statement simplifies your direction – your goals will either align with your definite major purpose or they don’t. Goals without a purpose statement are like arrows without a target.
Consider the following suggestions as you compose your own personal purpose statement:
Answer the following questions, then add any of your own that come to mind:
- How do I want to make a difference in the world?
- How do I want to be remembered?
- What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind?
2. Write your first draft
Write your purpose statement quickly. Don’t stop to make corrections. Do that later. Don’t over-think it, otherwise you won’t get into the flow of writing.
Use your answers to these questions to get you started:
- Who am I?
- What do I do?
- Who do I do it for?
- What do the people I help want or need?
- How are they changed by what I do?
3. Focus on the positive
Choose words that are positive and that reflect what you want to be, do and experience. Avoid using negative words or saying what you don’t want.
4. Write in the present tense
Write your purpose statement in the present tense, e.g. ‘I am’ rather than ‘I will’. This sends a message to your brain that you’re already doing this, making it easier for you to believe you can achieve your goal.
5. Revise your statement regularly
Your purpose statement will always be a work in progress, so return to it often and revise it in line with deeper insights that might come to you.
6. Sign your statement
Sign your purpose statement to indicate your commitment to pursuing it.
7. Display it
Put your personal purpose statement in a place where you’ll see it on a daily basis. It’s important to remind yourself of what you want so you maintain your focus and keep moving towards it.
If you’ve lost or never had a purpose in life, it’s never too late to identify one. Remember, your purpose is linked to your values and passions, so your purpose in life may change when your priorities shift.
Your purpose is never fixed, so look for evidence that you’re ready for a change. Whenever you start to feel bored or lack a sense of fulfilment in your work, review your values. Think about what you’re passionate about and find your new purpose in life.
If you have any questions about how to discover your purpose, be sure to contact us by completing the simple form on this page.