The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
How do we know our life purpose? How do we find a fulfilling career that aligns with that purpose? These are life’s large questions.
The concept of life purpose ties in with a higher purpose, and a spiritual journey to attain it.
Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents. Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning.
Dr. Richard Johnson is an internationally recognised spokesperson in the field of retirement and adult development quotes: ‘Life meaning connects us to a larger picture, that we are part of a larger whole. We connect with something that is bigger than ourselves… Personal meaning allows us to feel part of an overall plan.’
Understanding our life purpose or personal mission statement occurs through our life journey. Many of us may grapple with this, some find it, others not.
Here are examples of personal mission statements:
Oprah Winfrey, Founder Of Own, The Oprah Winfrey Network
To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.
Sir Richard Branson, Founder Of The Virgin Group
To have fun in [my] journey through life and learn from [my] mistakes.
Denise Morrison, CEO Of Campbell Soup Company
To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.
To help you find your life purpose, ask yourself what is your ‘life purpose’ or ‘personal mission statement.’ The answer does not need to be long, just a sentence or two.
By writing your life mission statement, it will help you to define your life direction, and the benchmark for making life and career decisions. Your decisions will be based on a moral compass that will guide you. It will improve your chances of experiencing happiness, success and fulfilment.
If you are seeking to live a happy and meaningful life, pursue a career that you are passionate that match your values, skills and educational attainment.
Let’s look at the process of finding your life purpose and the pursuit of a fulfilling career . It’s the first step, take your time to refine it over time.
1. What are your personal qualities that match your style of working?
(Examples: positive, autonomous, intellect and helping others.
2. How do you express these in a work context?
(Example: Feel worthwhile and fulfilled, assist and support others, able to work with flexibility, learning and growing.
3. What occupations complement my purpose, qualities and style of working?
(Example: Teaching, counselling, coaching, and managing.)
4. What are your core values in life?
(Example: Be the best person I can be, learn and grow throughout life, be available for family and balance with work, reach self-actualisation.)
5. What am I passionate about?
(Example: Family, friends, and offering kindness to others.)
6. What things at work are you good at?
(Example: Professionally – teaching, training, counselling, coaching. Personally – being a wife, mother and grandmother.)
7. What things at work do you struggle with?
(Examples: Injustices, communication barriers)
In looking at your life path and career direction, there are 6 principles that can assist you.
We change and mature over time. What is true about us as a teenager is different to us as an adult, parent or grandparent. We have life experiences – positive and challenges, we develop insight, we have financial and family responsibilities, realise that time is finite, we may grapple with health issues and our body slows down, and we become strategic with our time.
Take small steps to assist you to focus on the bigger picture. It is not where you begin your life that will be your final destination. As my grandmother would say in her wonderful European accent: ‘Slowly, slowly.’
When something is not working, seek to learn from the experience. Take this lesson into other areas of your life, and to challenges ahead.
Don’t only focus on the money. A meaningful life is more than money, as money itself does not lead to happiness. We need sufficient money to pay the bills and to enjoy life. In the bigger context, it is one aspect. Focus on all the components of your life: you as a person, family and friends, health, spiritual expression, lifestyle, achievements and other matters.
Take time out to reflect on where you are now and where you want to go in your life. Relax and focus on what brings you satisfaction, and who is important. Enjoy the small pleasures that life can bring: a walk on the beach, the smell of a flower, and the joy of laughter.
Appreciate the people in your life. We all seek personal connection with others. It may be with your family, friends, work colleagues, or recreational buddies. Relationships are a strong predictor of happiness. Gratitude is the first step to attaining happiness.
Being connected to our life purpose, work and relationships is the key to living a happy and purposeful life. This is the responsibility that we all have to ourselves, family and community. Being successful at our career or job is one step of the journey. If you are passionate about your work, it will come through, shine like a beacon and inspire others. This is the mark of how we will be remembered.