Have you ever been so stressed out with the daily grind that you shouted to whatever was listening, “Is this all there is?” Sometimes the stress of getting through another mundane day is overwhelming, and we can’t help but ask, “What is my purpose in life.”
It feels like we were made for more than to work, come home, do chores, have a weekend BBQ, and repeat until we’re too old to enjoy things.
But what is that thing that we’re supposed to be doing? Our life’s purpose, which will rescue us from the monotony of the life we’re living now?
I’d like to tell you that it’s a simple process, but the truth is, it’s a challenging endeavor, one that takes many people a lifetime. Challenging doesn’t mean impossible, though, and this post will aim to guide you towards discovering your purpose in life.
What Does it Mean to Find Your Purpose in Life?
Your purpose is something that gives your life meaning. It makes you want to get out of bed every day and pursue it.
People who have found their purpose in life live it, breathe it, embody it, and share it with the world. Finding your purpose is like falling in love. It’s undeniable, amazing, and worth every second of difficulty that it might bring.
How Do I Know What My Purpose is?
It’s okay not to know what your calling is. We often get so tied up with our lives that we don’t have time to think about it. Sometimes we have more than one passion, and it’s hard to focus on just one.
It can also be challenging to find your own purpose in life when everyone around you tells you what it should be. Families, friends, and society, in general, do a great job of defining everyone’s life script for them.
The truth is, you don’t have to do what society expects. You don’t even have to do what your family desires. If you don’t want children, don’t have them, regardless of how much your parents want grandchildren or how often you’ve heard that children are the path to a fulfilling life.
If you don’t want to be a doctor, don’t go to med school, regardless of how many generations of your family were doctors and how much your parents pressured you.
It’s your life, and we only get one as far as we know. So why spend it doing things you aren’t passionate about?
What is My Purpose in Life – 10 Tips to Help You Discover Your Calling
It’s time to stop living the life that others have designed for you and start living your own life. Here are some tips to help you answer the question, “what is my purpose in life.”
1. Get Introspective
It’s time to ask yourself some tough questions. What do you really want in life? What are you passionate about? What would you do with your spare time if money wasn’t a problem?
There are many thought-provoking questions you can ask yourself to help you determine your passion. Now is the time to reflect and figure out what you really want, outside of what people expect from you.
Journaling is a great tool that helps with introspection. Write these questions in a journal, and take the time to reflect upon the answers.
It’s not always easy to know what to ask yourself, so to help, we’ve developed a list of 75 introspective journal prompts available for sale on our Etsy store. These prompts are not explicitly designed to help you find your calling (we have something else for that – keep reading!), but they will help you get comfortable journaling about introspection.
3. Practice Self Care
How can you know what you want to do when you don’t even have time to think about it? Being so stressed out that you can’t think straight is a huge problem that inhibits us from being able to consider the possibilities.
It’s essential to clear your mind and destress. Try taking a bath, going for a nature walk, indulging in a favorite book, or doing anything that helps you relax and feel rejuvenated. Answering the question of how to find your purpose takes a refreshed body and mind, so give yourself the gift of self-care before thinking about it.
4. Try New Things
You can’t know if you like something until you try it. Now is the time!
Is there something that you’ve always wanted to try but put off? Maybe a cooking class, an artistic endeavor, or volunteer work have always been on your “someday” list.
Give those things a try. You may decide it’s not for you, but you may find that the passion brewing inside you bubbles up to the surface, and you fall in love. You will never know until you try.
5. Meditate on It
Mediation is a time for self-reflection and introspection. It’s often used as a means of self-care but can also help you find your true path.
Mediation guides you. When you meditate on a specific question, your inner self helps guide your conscious mind towards the answer. Meditation may not be for everyone, but it’s a great tool to help you learn what you want out of life.
6. Network with People Who Inspire You
Sometimes finding our purpose in life is about meeting the right people. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and had that “aha” light bulb moment where you think, “I want to do what they are doing!”
Building a network of people in niches related to your passion can help you narrow down your true purpose. For example, let’s say you love film. Join a network of people who share your love. Work with directors, producers, camera people, actors, design specialists, and anyone else in the industry to learn how films are developed, produced, and delivered. Understanding all aspects of an industry from insiders will help you determine whether you want to be a part of it and, if you do, which specific aspect of it you should pursue.
7. Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is taking the network to the next level. The network you’ve built will give you a taste of different aspects of an industry, but a mentor will help you narrow down your specific role.
A mentor will have one-on-one conversations with you and help guide you toward what you want in life. This person doesn’t need to be involved in the industry you’re interested in, but it does help. They also need to be someone you trust to have your best interests at heart and know enough about the topics you are passionate about to guide you towards an educated decision.
8. Get Involved
Is there a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? Perhaps there’s a charity you enjoy supporting, a political movement you regularly donate to, or a cause that you genuinely believe in.
Stop standing on the sidelines and start getting involved. Volunteer to help. Join protests. Build houses. Feed the homeless. Canvass for a political party. Getting involved in a cause near and dear to you may help you realize that your purpose lies in working for this cause. You may also recognize that this type of work is not for you, but the only way to find out is to try.
9. Seek Knowledge
Seek opportunities to learn about the things you are curious about. Sometimes, it takes a book to spark something inside you that you never knew existed. Browse a bookstore and pick up something that piques your interest.
You can also take a course in something. Online platforms offer classes in everything from photography to journalism to the sciences. Dabble in a few things and see if something fits.
There may also be local places for you to take in-person classes. Try an art or cooking class, or enroll in a course at your local community college. Learning about what’s out there is a great way to discover your purpose.
Many of the items on this list come down to a single word. If you want to find your purpose, you need to explore. Explore everything, your inner self, your ideals, passions, and the world around you.
Life isn’t the destination. It’s the journey. Allowing yourself the freedom to explore the world, both figuratively and literally, will help you narrow down your true calling.
It may sound silly, but I think the true purpose of life is living. We weren’t meant to work in an office 40 hours per week, do chores, go to bed, and repeat ad nauseam.
Life is for living.
Living your life to the fullest is the purpose of life. You were meant to get out there, find your passion, discover yourself, and live your best life. It doesn’t have to be in the pursuit of some higher calling (though it can be). It can simply be what makes you happiest.
So be happy. Enjoy every moment of life
Purpose, Passion, and Meaning
Find your purpose, pursue your passion, what’s the meaning of life?
These three concepts are all so tightly interwoven that they are nearly synonymous. However, there are slight differences. Your passion can be your purpose, but often we think of passion as something a little more selfish and purpose as something that you can give back to the world. Passion is what drives us; purpose is why it drives us.
Passion and purpose are also related to meaning. What does living a meaningful life entail?
There are multiple interpretations of a meaningful life. Some will view it as living a life that made a difference, an impact on someone or a group of people. A person’s life has meaning if they use it to make the world around them a better place. With this interpretation, a person’s life’s meaning doesn’t have to be related to their passion or purpose. It’s an expression of how others view their life.
Others get more philosophical with it and ask questions like, “what is the meaning of life.” If you think of it this way, finding your purpose is finding the meaning in your life.
Life Purpose Examples
Numerous things can be considered a true calling in life. Here are some ideas of things that can give a life meaning.
Everyone is different, and it’s okay if nothing here speaks to you. If that describes you, consider hiring a life coach that can help guide and mentor you. Every situation is unique, and sometimes it takes one-on-one guidance to truly narrow down what we want out of life.
Service to Others
Many people find fulfillment in life by serving others. This could be achieved through service to the community through volunteer work, careers in caregiving, or helping your family at home.
If you are driven by helping others, consider that this might be your purpose in life. Find opportunities to give back, serve others, and help people around you.
Dedication to Faith
Some people find meaning in dedicating themselves to the service of a higher power. Whether through Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, or any other religion, many find that worship and dedication to faith give their lives meaning.
If spirituality guides you, try getting more involved in your religious organization. Many religions dedicate themselves to serving others, so you may find that although you derive meaning from your faith, your purpose aligns more with service. That’s okay. Discovering your passion, purpose, and meaning are all part of the journey.
A lot of people are driven by an intense need to create. Artists, actors, writers, singers, bloggers, streamers, YouTubers, and other content creators find fulfillment in making things to educate and entertain others.
Creatives in all niches find that the act of making something is what drives them. The end goals may be different. Some may want to educate or persuade, others may want to entertain, and others still might find meaning in leaving something lasting for future generations.
Many people have found their life’s purpose in pursuing a cause they care about. Activism can take many forms. You can get involved in local politics, join a charity organization that fights for a reason you care about or even mobilize like-minded individuals.
Fighting for a cause you truly believe in can give you a sense of purpose. Follow in the footsteps of women like Susan B. Anthony and Ida B. Wells in fighting for women, or Martin Luther King Jr. in fighting for civil rights. Dedicating your life to a cause you truly believe in is a great way to have a sense of purpose and meaning in your life.
A final example of living a life of purpose is centered around being rather than doing. When you live your life on purpose, you can find meaning in the simple act of existing.
Embracing a purposeful life is a little more complex than the other items. Having an external purpose is easy. Making yourself the purpose takes mindfulness, gratitude, and introspection.
However, it’s worthwhile. Having a sense of purpose in being will help you become one with the world and find inner peace. It’s empowering and allows you to live life to the fullest because it comes with the understanding that living life to the fullest is the purpose of life.
Books that Can Help You Find Your Purpose in Life
Sometimes you need more than a blog post to find your purpose in life. Although the items on this list are a significant first step, they won’t help someone who truly has no idea of their inner purpose.
We have a plethora of resources that can help.
Find Your Passion Ultimate Bundle
The best resource for finding your purpose in life is one that we’ve developed ourselves. Helping people discover, fund, and pursue their passions in Partners in Fire’s top priority. We think everyone should have the opportunity to follow their dreams and live the life they want.
Our ultimate bundle to discovering your passion is available on Etsy for just $9.99. It’s a printable workbook filled with journal prompts, follow-up questions, mind maps, passion ideas, and action plans to help you get started. If you are unsure what your purpose is but ready to find it, this is a must-have workbook.
More Books for Finding Your Passion and Purpose
If you want more resources in addition to the ultimate bundle, check out these books. Most of these are read-only, so they don’t include the printable bundle’s activities, but they are great resources to help you answer that ultimate question, “what is my purpose in life.”
I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know it’s Not This by Julie Jansen is a guide to finding a career that fits you. According to a survey by Zippia, 50% of Americans don’t like their jobs. Work is not a path to fulfillment, as we’ve been led to believe.
Jansen’s book doesn’t fight the idea that we need to find a sense of meaning in our work for fulfillment but does help guide you towards a career that you might find meaningful.
If you want to get more philosophical in your search for purpose, you need to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. First published in 1946, this was one of the first books to dive deep into what a purpose in life really is.
Man’s Search for Meaning is about triumphing over trauma and despair. Frankl admitted that the book was inspired by his time in a concentration camp, arguably one of the worst traumas a person can experience. Though inspired by horrific events, the book strives to be inspirational and showcase that you can find purpose and meaning, even in the worse circumstances.
The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau is a little different. Instead of showing you how to find your purpose, it claims that the pursuit of purpose is your purpose.
Guillebeau is a serial entrepreneur who has visited every country, started a podcast, written books, and continues to challenge himself with new pursuits. The meaning in his life comes from pursuing a wide range of different activities. The Happiness of Pursuit showcase through interviews and case studies how the happiest people are the ones who keep pushing their boundaries and keep questing. The journey is life’s purpose, not the destination.
Follow Your Heart by Andrew Matthews is a simple and funny guide to living a good life. Illustrated with humorous comics that depict the struggles of just living, this book seeks to help readers expect and embrace the difficulties that come with life.
The summary of the book is the best way to explain its humor:
It’s about doing what you love and finding peace of mind. It is about dealing with disasters and not blaming your mother! It is about how happy people think, why rich people make money – even by accident – and it’s about what losers do and how not to be like them!
I love the premise of this book. We talked about society’s expectations and why we often choose a life of misery over following our own hearts. The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna expands upon this idea. It’s the only book on this list that acknowledges all the pressure we have to do things a certain way.
If you’ve been struggling with what you “should” do because society, family, or whoever told you it’s what you needed but want to figure out what you “must” do because it’s the thing that’s calling you, you need this book.
Inspirational Quotes About Finding Purpose in Life
For a little more inspiration to answer the question “what is my purpose in life” we will leave you with motivational quotes on passion, purpose, and meaning from celebrities, thought leaders, and other inspirational people from our past.
These ten quotes won’t help you find your own personal meaning, but they will inspire you to search for it and pursue it when you find it.
“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” – Roy T. Bennett
“The two most important days in life are the day you born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
“By setting and pursuing goals, you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain. It has been scientifically proven that people who set goals are more fulfilled and positive about life. Having a purpose to wake up to each day will challenge us and give us meaning.” – Zoe McKey
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – Dalai Lama
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” – Barbara Hall
“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.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” – Winston S. Churchill
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” – Oprah Winfrey
“We all have a purpose in life, and when you find yours, you will recognize it.” – Catherine Pulsifer
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.