Finding Your Life’s Work
We may wake up one morning and think: “What is my life? What am I doing with my life?” At first, the notion that you haven’t yet found satisfaction and are now questioning your path may be terrifying, but that’s not necessarily true. Our lives consist of different but repeating phases of searching for meaning and purpose, reevaluating beliefs that we find important, and sometimes completely changing the trajectory of our lives to best align with our core values. First, you have to ask yourself – how do you determine your life’s work?
Define Your Core Values
One of the most important tasks at hand will be to determine your core values. For me, focusing on the concepts of healing and hope is at the top of the list. The most important thing I can do is provide hope to others as well as myself. By knowing I’ve given one person a little hope in their own struggle, I have honored my own core values while providing a safe and healing environment to those who are in need.
For you, these values may be totally different. Take time to consider what your core values are by first identifying your basic ideals and how they affect your life. What principles are the most important for your life to feel peaceful and fulfilled? I want you to actually write these down. Make a list and review it. By determining what’s most important to you, you’ll start to define your own purpose and gain greater insight into what will be your life’s work.
Each person’s core values are unique to them. Because they’re based on life events, personal experiences, and the individual’s personality, everyone will have their own set of values. Over time, these values may even evolve, and that’s okay! As long as your principles are meaningful and important to you, they can have a positive impact on the world. Whether your core values involve family relationships, spirituality, or creativity, your personal life’s work will likely involve some, if not all, of your core values. You should also rate the importance of each of your values. Knowing what your most important values are will help you make better choices and keep moving in a positive direction.
Set Your Intentions
Once you have identified your core values, you can consciously set intentions regarding your life’s work. Setting your intentions is the act of declaring what you want to achieve through your actions. By being intentional, you live more in the present moment and in the here and now. I find that setting intentions relieves stress and helps me to accomplish goals, large or small. If finding your life’s work is your current end goal, setting an intention can help you direct your focus and attention to do so.
Why is setting your intentions so important? Because it opens the doors to introspection, demanding answers to the questions of what you want to gain or achieve. While the process may include trials and distractions, you have an overarching process laid out before you to remind you of the bigger picture. Being thoughtful and mindful of your actions helps you take and accomplish the next step, whatever that may be for you.
As I mentioned, the act of setting intentions places you more in the moment, bringing awareness to your environment and anyone who may currently share this space with you. Additionally, you’re also more aware of your actions and how your actions affect those around you. For example, let’s say you’re setting an intention to pass along more kindness. First, you have to look for opportunities or situations where you can offer more kindness. You may find that a very small gesture immediately brightens someone’s day. In some cases, you may not see the end results of your actions, but simply knowing that you took a step in your intended direction can leave you with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Setting intentions allows you to be deliberate and focused when taking action, whether those actions are related to your life purpose or simply part of your day-to-day routines. Sometimes, this helps you feel more in control of your life, especially if you’ve felt like life has merely been a result of consequence and circumstance. This is also a way to become more intimate with your strengths and weaknesses and how they affect your intentions. I find that being deliberate about my actions gives me confidence and helps me move past anything that may be holding me back.
Take Stock of Your Strengths and Weaknesses
This may sound like a corporate seminar designed to help you be more productive in the workforce, but knowing your strengths and weaknesses greatly benefits your daily life. When you know where you excel, and likewise where you may be lacking, you can take steps to either better yourself or redirect your focus and use your talents to your best advantage.
What skills or tasks feel natural to you? What are you doing when you feel like your best self? Is a hobby or skill you’ve dismissed or put off learning still calling to you? If you can answer these questions, then you’re one step closer to finding out what your life is meant for.
Knowing your weaknesses is just as important. When you have an understanding and acceptance of where you need support, you know what to ask for and when to ask for help. With this information, you can do a couple of things. First, you can choose to improve yourself and grow from your shortcomings. In doing so, you may discover new strengths. Second, you can learn how to manage a weakness and not let it rule you. Showing self-awareness in the face of challenges proves that you have a willingness to grow, and that’s always a beautiful thing. Third, find someone who has a strength that complements your weakness. No one person is good at everything. Building a symbiotic relationship with someone can benefit you both on your journeys.
Pinpoint Your Interests
When you’re thinking, “how do I find purpose and direction in life,” knowing what you love to do is a requirement to answering that question. For example, you may enjoy activities that are more physically demanding. Start by considering your favorite physical activities, whether it’s a particular sport or just simply being active around your home. If it’s something that brings you joy and recharges your batteries, that’s a step in the right direction towards becoming aware of your interests. Spending time doing things we enjoy and are passionate about naturally puts us in a state of creativity and expansion. Many times, these moments of clarity and inspiration will lead to the realization of our purpose.
I know that there are times in my life when I’ve had to get back to basics. Maybe I’ve lost a little of my own purpose, and I’m working towards getting myself back. Identifying and diving back into past interests are so important for my journey of self-discovery. When I’m seeking answers, I know I feel best when I look inside myself and do what I love.
Each phase of your life will be unique and may be defined by different events, places, or even the people in your life during that time. Retracing all these steps is part of the journey. Whether you’re going off to college for the first time, managing the stress of a divorce, or mourning the loss of a loved one, redirecting your life and its purpose is part of the process. What is important to you now might not have been important to you ten years ago and may not be important ten years from now.
It’s up to you to determine your path, and whether you do it once or a hundred times, redirection is more of a blessing than a curse. It gives you the opportunity to make your own plans and determinations for yourself. It helps you rule your own life and make your own choices. Redirection is an opportunity to reevaluate and get back to basics.
When you’re reevaluating your goals, you may also need to review and rethink your core values. While they may all still be important to you, your priorities may have changed over time. It’s possible that how your values rank in their importance has shifted, and this is totally normal.
Maybe it used to be very important that you were present for every family event, but now your main priority is better managing your finances. It’s okay that these things shift for you. Redirecting is an important part of redefining your path and purpose.
Taking time every day to reflect on your life can certainly be beneficial. It gives you the opportunity to check off all the boxes from intention setting to redirection. Your daily meditation should be at least a few quiet minutes where you can jot down ideas, ask yourself questions, or simply think about your journey thus far. It may be a good time to ask again, “how do you determine your life’s work?” Keeping a journal to document your reflections gives you the chance to look back and see if there are consistent questions you’re asking, themes to your reflections, and you are making progress.
Try to give yourself at least ten minutes per day and adjust your time as necessary. Some people prefer morning meditations to set their intentions for the day and ask the universe for guidance or indications that they’re on the right track. Others prefer meditating in the evening or before bed, reflecting on the day and preparing for tomorrow. Having a set time for this every day to meditate and muse can help you better manage your intentions, track milestones, and record your process of identifying your life’s work. While you may stumble along the way, getting yourself back on track is key.
Why Should I Find Purpose in My Life?
Life is all about the journey. Racing to the finish line is no way to live. Seeking your purpose enriches your life and its experiences while enhancing the experiences of those around you. I like this quote from psychiatrist Viktor Frankl:
It may seem a little counter-intuitive, as all my advice has been about seeking an answer, but rather than making the answer your goal, making the journey your goal will show you your purpose.
When you wake up each day, striving to pursue your talents, build on your strengths, and realize your weaknesses, you gain meaning. When you are ready and willing to face the day and feel good about who you are and what you do, you will know you’ve found your life’s purpose.