If you’ve ever pondered the purpose of your life, you’re not alone. It’s one of the big questions in life: What’s my purpose? Why am I here? If you’re anything like me, you’ve asked yourself these big questions more than once. In this episode, I’ll give you the tools you need to discover your purpose in this world.
We’ll start by defining “purpose,” what it is and what it isn’t. I’ll also give you five elements that play into your purpose: your values, passions, strengths, principles, and perspective, and then give you ways to tap into each of those elements.
By the end of the episode, you’ll have the tools you need to examine your life and discover your passion.
As a coach, this concept of purpose comes up often. Many of my clients know that they're meant for more, but they don't know what that looks like. That’s the inspiration behind today’s episode.
What is Purpose?
(2:00) Many times people think about their purpose as something they do and the actions they take. That’s part of it, but I want to be clear: your purpose is not simply what you do, it's who you are.
It’s very easy for us to get caught up in the roles that we play and the things that we do. I talk about this a lot in my book, Act on Your Business. I call this shadow process “Role Playing,” when we define ourselves by what we do. Our purpose is so much greater than the roles we play or the actions we take.
Finding Our Purpose
(3:45) In this episode, I’ll uncover five elements that play into your purpose: your values, passions, strengths, principles, and perspective.
I should point out that finding your purpose is not a one-and-done event. Humans evolve over the course of our lives. You’re not the same person now that you were ten years ago. Heck, even over the last year, I've grown and learned new things. My perspective has changed.
As we evolve over time, our purpose can evolve as well. As we grow and experience new things, how we think about the world changes. We relate to the world differently. And this changes our perspective, which can lead to a change in purpose.
Sometimes those shifts can be painful. Those periods of transition in our lives can sometimes leave us feeling out of touch, disconnected, or uncertain about where we want to go with our lives.
This disconnectedness is another shadow process I talk about in my book, called Losing Focus. We start to lose our sense of purpose and meaning. Instead, view that discomfort as a sign that it's time to reevaluate your purpose and think differently about your life.
Approach this idea of finding your purpose with flexibility. Your purpose now might look different than it did years ago. When we get too rigid about our purpose, we confine ourselves to a single view of how we should be, and we fall right back into that shadow process of Role Playing.
The Five Elements that Inform Our Purpose
(8:15) I've talked about values a lot on the podcast in previous episodes (listen to Episode 13 here!) and I wrote an entire section about it in my book. When I talk about your values, I'm referring to how you want to live your life; the qualities you want to embody, and the drive behind your actions. Your values reflect what matters most to you.
What Values ARE
There are three main components of values:
They are personal. My values are mine. They’re how I want to live my life based on what’s important to Your values and mine may not be the same, and that’s okay.
They are without judgment. Values are not inherently good or bad, so there’s no judgment associated with them. The behaviors you take based on those values might bring judgment, but the values themselves are neutral.
They are in the here and now. Some values can remain constant over time, but we should understand that our values shift because of our experiences and our relationships.
My personal values are service, connection, joy, and love. When I'm taking action in my life, I always ask if the action is consistent with these values. Often, they are much intertwined. If I am not coming from a place of love, if I'm not finding the joy in the work that I'm doing or the relationships I'm engaging in, then that tells that I'm not living consistently with my values.
We can think of our values as being guidelines that shape our worldview and how we want to live our lives. They are not inherently good or bad. They just are.
What Values ARE NOT
Values are not goals. When we look at our goals – writing a book or running a marathon, for instance – we can say yes or no, I've done it, or I haven't. That’s not a value. Our values can certainly inform our goals, but they are separate from our goals.
Values are not feelings. Our values can influence our emotions, our emotional response, how we interpret our emotions, but feelings of happiness, anger, or sadness are not values.
Values are not morals. Morals are what we define as acceptable behavior. Values are not about right or wrong, good or bad.
When we know how we want to live our lives and what qualities we want to embody, we can discover our purpose and how we want to show up in the world.
Determining Your Values
If you need a little help determining your values, I have some great resources for you. First and foremost, I would guide you to my book, Act on Your Business, which contains several exercises to help you clarify your values. One way to identify your values is to think about what you would want your favorite person in the world to say about you. How would you want them to describe you? That speaks to which values are important to you.
You might also identify a strong emotion and let that guide you. Think about a time you experienced great joy. What were you doing? Who were you with? Those details tell you a lot about your values.
You can also do that with an unwanted emotion like rage. Many times when we get really angry about something, it's because a value has been threatened.
(15:00) Passions are the things in life that light you up; the things that bring you the greatest joy. That can be actions that you take or things that you do. It can also be people in your life or the places that you go.
You know that flow state, where you’re so concentrated on something, it's like the rest of the world just disappears? Ask yourself, when you achieve that flow state, what are you doing? The answer can tell you something about your passions.
You might also ask, “when do I feel most like myself? What am I doing? Who am I spending time with? Finally, identify what allows you to easily tap into your creativity. What helps you connect with your Spirit, with the Divine? All of those answers can help us point to what we are passionate about.
(18:30) Strengths can include your talents. But let’s not only allow our actions to define our strengths. Instead, our strengths should be more about being who you are, how you are, and the strengths that you embody naturally.
Identifying Your Strengths
There are many great resources to help you identify your strengths, but here are three of my favorites.
The Via Strengths Survey. This is one of my favorite free surveys. It’s a quick assessment where you rate statements based on the extent you agree or disagree with each. At the end, it ranks 24 strengths based on what you display the most and what you display the least. It’s a great tool to help you see where your strength lies.
Clifton Strengths Finder. The Strength Finder book often comes with the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment. This assessment features 34 strengths, and it will show you which strengths come most naturally to you. I have found it interesting to compare my Via Strengths with my Clifton Strengths Finder.
This is a paid resource, but I have found it invaluable both for understanding myself, and the other people in my life. As I read about all 34 strengths and how they show up in the world, and how people who embody a particular strength tend to act, I start to notice my family members in each. It helps me understand them better. I can see that someone has a strength that perhaps I don't have, and that helps me better understand how they view the world and why they show up the way they do.
Kolbe Index. I’m new to this assessment, but I’ve seen it everywhere. I recently heard about it again from a friend of mine, Natalie Gingrich, who has a brand-new podcast called The Ops Authority. It’s so good. Check it out here!
The Kolbe assessment is about $55 but compliments other assessments so well. Instead of being a personality assessment like Myers-Briggs or even the Enneagram, and instead of being an attitudinal assessment, like the Energy Leadership Index, the Kolbe is more about action. It looks at your instinctive way of doing things, and the results tell you about your preferred method of operation. I found it spot on for me.
When determining your strengths, it's great to start with what you're naturally good at, or the things you do well. But I’m going to encourage you to expand that: focus on your strengths of being rather than your strengths of doing. Examine who you are and how you show up in the world, and that will reveal your strengths.
(24:45) First, let me clarify that there is a difference between principles and values. Principles, according to businessdictionary.com, defines principles as fundamental norms, rules, or values that represent what is desirable and positive for a person or community. They help determine the rightfulness or wrongfulness of actions.
When we're talking about right or wrong, we start seeing judgment creep in. We talked before about how values are judgment-free. But with principles, there is an element of judgment, because we’re talking about what we believe is right or wrong.
Judgment can be helpful in terms of guiding our behaviors, and it helps us see when something is unsafe versus safe. Concerning finding our purpose, judgment can help us see or understand when we are acting in alignment with our purpose or when we're not.
Principals are also very much about belief. What do you believe about yourself, about a spiritual power, and the world around you? Of course, beliefs vary from person to person. And that's okay.
But when we start to impose our beliefs or principles on other people, then it becomes dogmatic and problematic. Because principles are about individual belief and collective belief, we need to understand that there will be some variants.
Determining Your Principles
Think about your faith statement and what you believe. What are the guiding principles around which you want to build your life? One wat to identify these principles is to journal about them. Use the prompts “I know” and “I believe” and start writing out everything that comes after. You’ll begin to see the guiding principles in your life.
(29:00) I define perspective as your point of view. It's your frame of reference that influences the way you see the world. It can be shaped by the four other elements we've discussed: values, passion, strengths, and principles. Our perspective can also be influenced by the people in our lives, by the things we've learned, and the experiences that we've had.
My perspective has shifted based literally on where I've been living. When I lived in Germany for four years as an American, my perspective was very different from now, living back in the States. Living in North Carolina is different than when I lived in Florida, DC, or Texas.
The roles that we play in our life can also inform our perspective. When we define ourselves solely by the things that we do, not only are we limiting our own self-concept, but we're also limiting our perspective on the world as well. When we're able to step outside those roles, it automatically broadens our perspective of ourselves and the world around us.
When we consider perspective in the context of finding our purpose, perspective gives us meaning and allows us to narrow or broaden our scope accordingly.
Make It Work Moment
(31:10) This week’s Make It Work Moment is brought to you by the Clarity Summit!
I am excited to announce that I will be hosting my first ever virtual summit, the Clarity Summit! The Clarity Summit is designed for intuitive coaches and service-based entrepreneurs who want to live their purpose through their business.
It runs from September 30th through October 4th, and during that week, we’ll cover the basics of creating and growing a profitable and fulfilling business. If this sounds like something you’d find beneficial, get on the waitlist by going to claritysummit.com.
Oh, and here's the best part: it is absolutely free. I'm serious. There is zero cost to attend the summit. So go sign up today!
Back to the Make It Work Moment, where we take action on everything we've talked about on today's episode.
This week, I want you to carve out 30 minutes or so in your day, and journal about the five elements that contribute to your purpose.
I’ve created a worksheet that makes this process easier. You can find that worksheet at the Wisdom Library. It comes complete with journaling prompts to guide you through your personal exploration of your values, passions, strengths, principles, and perspective. Using that guide, you’ll eventually create a purpose statement, which I will guide you through.
Once you discover that purpose statement, come share it with me at the Work Your Inner Wisdom Facebook Community! Each week, I post a discussion thread for that week’s episode, so find the Episode 19 thread and let me know what you discovered.
If you want a more in-depth look at this week’s MIWM, head over to my website and sign up for the Weekly Deeper Dive. Every Sunday, you’ll get an email with bonus materials to help you dig in to the concepts we talked about in this episode.
I'll be back next week, so until then, let your inner wisdom lead the way…
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Act on Your Business: Braving the storms of entrepreneurship and creating success through meaning, mindset, and mindfulness
- Via Strength Survey
- Clifton Strengths Finder
- Kolbe Assessment
- The Ops Authority Podcast by Natalie Gingrich
- Work Your Inner Wisdom Website
- WYIW Facebook Community
- The Clarity Summit