As I mentioned in the previous post, discovering your purpose in life can bless you with a life of passion, fulfillment and contribution. So how can you figure out what that purpose is? Well it really can be broken down to four things touched upon in the last post: your talents, your passions, your conscience, and a real need in the world.
Let’s take a look at each of these elements in more detail…
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t know what your talents are then you need to stop reading this and go out and get a life. I’m serious. The reason is you discover your talents through the natural experimentation of life. For example, growing up, we all enjoyed participating in certain activities, and I’m sure there were certain ones which seemed to come easier for you than others. These are your talents.
Keep in mind, there are talents you may have which are presently lying dormant inside of you. These also need to be discovered. Few would argue that Michael Jordan doesn’t have a talent for basketball. However, as a young boy getting cut from the high-school team shows that perhaps it was a latent talent that through his perseverance and passion, came out. Which brings us to the next element of purpose:
Closely related to your talents, are your passions. A lot of times what you are very passionate about ends up becoming your talents (as we saw in the Michael Jordan example). Your passions are the things which naturally energize, excite, motivate and inspire you. These are activities which you would gladly do without pay.
If you can discover work which pays you to do what you’re passionate about, then you are very close to living your purpose, which brings us to the third element in finding your purpose:
So many of us engage in work which the world needs but we’re not passionate about. If you are fulfilling a need in the world, but you’re not passionate about what it is you are doing, then you’re not living your purpose. It’s when you can combine the use of your talents and passions with a need in the world, that you are on the cusp of discovering your purpose.
This leaves only one last element to make it complete:
This last element is what supports all the previous ones. If you discovered work which makes use of your talents, is something you’re passionate about, fulfills a need that is in the world, but is not backed by your conscience, then it is still not your purpose.
That still, small voice inside of you which speaks to you when you are silent, urging you on to choose what is right, is your conscience.
Hitler found a great need in Germany for a strong leader to get them out of their economic depression. He combined that need with his talent and passion as a leader. However these weren’t backed by his conscience, which ultimately led to atrocious and terrible actions.
You will know you are living your purpose when it is backed by your conscience. This will always be something which benefits, uplifts and inspires others. You may be passionate about making money and have quite the knack for it, but making money for the sake of just making money is not beneficial to anyone. On the other hand, if you use your talents and passion to help teach others how they can improve their standard of living, now you are living a more purposeful life. Do you see the difference? True purpose always reaches beyond your self and into others lives.
And if you’re looking for money, well what often is the case (as mentioned in Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success), “When your creative expressions match the needs of your fellow humans, then wealth will spontaneously flow.”
To summarize, it’s when you engage in work which makes use of your talents and drives your passions — which rises out of a great need in the world that your conscience urges you to fulfill — it is there where you’ll find your purpose. Focus first on discovering this purpose, and all else, whether it’s money, freedom, success and so on, will follow.