In my previous post "Karma Yoga Lessons from Steve Jobs" I mentioned that the way to find out what our purpose or duty in life is, is to search within and listen to our heart. But, how can we actually do this? A good start is to get to know ourselves better by answering these "5 Key Questions to Find Your Purpose in Life" that I have included below. These questions have helped me to find some direction in my life, specially after I quit my corporate job in Europe.
Whenever I feel lost and insecure about what I'm doing, or whenever I ask myself if I'm still following my purpose I look back to these questions. They remind me if I'm on the right track and if I'm doing what I should be doing. I wrote them especially for my younger brother since he is about to finish his university studies and needs to make some choices soon. But it doesn't matter how old or how young you are, you can always use these questions to find what your purpose in life is.
Don't do this exercise mentally, the minds gets easily distracted and we actually want to get out of our heads. Get a notebook and a pen instead and simply write down whatever comes to your mind, without making any edits or corrections. This is not a test, nobody is going to review it so try to be as honest as you can. Think emotionally, use your heart. Be aware of your feelings while you are answering these questions and don't be afraid to think big.
If you have no idea what to answer simply ask yourself "Take a guess," and write down your first answer without questioning it. You don't have to come up with an answer right away. You can also repeat the exercise as many times as you want and review it months or even years later and compare your old answers.
5 Key Questions to Find Your Purpose in Life
1.) What would you do if you knew that your success was guaranteed, if you were certain that you wouldn't fail?
2.) What would you do if you already had all the money that you would ever need in order to cover all your financial needs? Imagine that you have already had all the holidays that you could dream of and that you already have all the material possessions that you would like to have. Then what else? what would you do with your life?
3) If somebody asks you "What do you do for a living?" what answer would make you feel proud and enthusiastic?
4) What activities or hobbies make you feel so motivated, joyful and content with yourself that you find it difficult to stop in order to do something else?
5) If you knew you were about to leave this world soon, what would you do? Would you continue doing what you are doing?
After answering all these questions you might have come up with several options and you might still not feel sure about which one to choose. Ask yourself then the following questions to help you narrow down your answers:
1) Would this activity allow you to express and develop your gifts?
2) Would this activity give you the opportunity to challenge yourself helping you become a better person and to have a fulfilling life?
2) Would this activity bring happiness or suffering to others?
3) Would this activity help you become closer to God, with the Universal Consciousness or with your highest Self?
Find your "Why", find your motivation
After you written down your answers and decide on one activity then ask yourself
Why? Why do you want to do what you have chosen to do?This is a very important question. It will help you to ensure that you have a very strong reason, a very strong 'Why', to help you keep motivated, confident and brave whenever things get tough, whenever you feel doubtful and loose focus or whenever you just feel like giving up. If your 'Why' is not strong enough then you will easily abandon your endeavor and go back to living somebody else's life.
You don't need to come up with one option or the right answer straight away. Work with whatever options you get and take action, don't wait for the right answer. Repeat the exercise a few days, weeks, months or even years later and compare with your previous answers. This is an excellent way to get to know yourself.
Supplementary Questions to Find Your Life Purpose
If you are more of an intellectual type and find it hard to come up with an answer for the previous questions then you can use the below supplementary questions:
1) What is/was your favorite subject at college or university?
2) What are the main lessons that you have learned from your parents?
3) What was your favorite job?
4) Who is or are your hero(es)? Why?
5) What was the most remarkable experience that you have had in your life?
6) What are you good at?
The answers to these questions might give you some light to understand what you really like and what are your main values and beliefs. Remember, there are no coincidences. There is a purpose for every experience that we have had in our life.
"You must like your vocation if you expect to succeed. If you have not found something that you like, you must search for it. When you make up your mind, stick to your resolution. Wake up! It is never too late to analyze what you are and what your deep-secret tasks are, so that you can make yourself what you should be. You have talents and power that you have not used. You have all the power you need." [Journey to Self Realization, Paramahansa Yogananda]
"You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that God's creative principle works in you.” [Journey to Self Realization, Paramahansa Yogananda]
"The ambition to live well and be prosperous becomes spiritualized if the purpose is to better serve others by being able to include them in your prosperity" [Journey to Self Realization, Paramahansa Yogananda]
You might also like:
- Top 10 TED talks for inspiration and motivation
- "Karma Yoga Lessons from Steve Jobs"
- Being honest and true to myself: following my dreams
We all have an specific role to play in life, our life purpose, our duty. Hopefully these questions will give you some guidance to find yours. Remember, is not just about making a living but living a meaningful and fulfilling life.