This moment is a microcosm of your entire life.
If you are . . .
waiting for something better,
waiting to decide,
waiting until the time is right,
waiting for enlightenment,
waiting until you feel better,
waiting until you are sure,
. . . you are wasting your life.
In any given moment, we have an infinite number of choices about what to do. Our choices either serve our life purpose or they do not. If you make enough choices that do not serve your purpose, you are living an unfulfilled, purposeless life.
What is your life purpose?
Your life purpose is to be who you are authentically — the real true self under all of the facades, hurts, expectations, and social conditioning. And then you must strive to live that self in every moment, every day. If you aren't in touch with who that person is, then it is nearly impossible to live a purposeful life.
Sometimes to get in touch with your real true self, you have to ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?” You have to define the characteristics, behavior, beliefs, actions, and lifestyle of your ideal self. Most of us aren't in touch with that person. We aren't proactive about finding out who we are. Instead, we are reactive and confused, seeking something outside of ourselves to give us direction and purpose.
However, purpose arises naturally from authentic living. It is a gift of grace that accompanies self-actualization.
So how do you find that “real self”? How do you become authentic and certain about who you are so that you can live out your life purpose?
I have learned four essential steps to help you realize your life purpose right now:
- Listening to your intuition;
- Learning from past experience;
- Managing your time.
1. Self Questioning
Without clear direction, your life and life choices can be entirely at the mercy of circumstances and other people.
To get that direction, you must clear away the “noise” of the world around you and go inside to identify what is most important to you. Self-questioning will focus you on what you deeply want, who you want to be, and how you get there.
You can try this right now by answering these questions for yourself. Write down the answers so you don't forget.
- What kind of person do you want to be? Describe the top 10 most important characteristics of this person (ie: creative, honest, loving, healthy, adventurous, etc.).
- Whose life do you admire and want to emulate? What is it about their life that inspires you?
- What activities (in work and life in general) make you feel most fulfilled and happy?
- If you could divide your time exactly the way you wanted between work, family, hobbies, leisure, and life maintenance activities (chores, paperwork, errands, etc.), how would you divide your time?
- How are you dividing your time now? How close is it to the ideal you described above?
- Are you passionate about your work? If not, what would you rather be doing?
- Are you happy in your relationships? If not, how are you contributing to the difficulty and what could you do to change it?
- Are there any ways you are living outside of your integrity? If so, what could you do to restore your integrity?
- Do you have needs or desires that you are suppressing or putting on the back burner? What are they?
- Are you spending a lot of time doing things that feel empty and meaningless?
- Do you have emotions that get in the way of taking action toward being true to yourself? Why do you have these feeling?
- If you could re-design your life from scratch, what would be the first thing you would change?
- What is the most obvious place in your life where you are living outside of your authentic, ideal self?
Once you have answered these questions, you have an outline for who you want to be.
Becoming that person is your life purpose. All other meaning and purpose in life arises from being a fully functioning, self-realized, authentic human being.
It is the moment by moment “becoming” that is your life purpose — not the arrival at some final destination. And when you define your authentic self, you have a blueprint against which to measure all of your actions and choices.
But even within the parameters of that blueprint, there are a myriad of choices and options. What should you do first? What actions will result in positive change? What if I make the wrong choice or decision?
That's where intuition comes in.
2. Listening to your intuition
As life has gotten more complicated, we've been trained to be reactors rather than creators. The phone rings and we answer it. The text comes in and we look at it. Someone interrupts and we stop to talk. The TV is on and we are distracted. So much of life is not by our own design but results from something landing on our doorstep. And because it's landed, we feel compelled to respond.
But you don't have to. You don't have to give away your time, your energy, or your true self.
The most beautiful gift you can give yourself is to step back from the reacting mode and allow yourself time for self-creation.
Self-creation requires . . .
- quiet, uninterrupted time;
- more questioning;
- deep listening to your own innate wisdom;
- a leap of faith.
In those moments of quiet introspection, hopefully at the beginning of each day, ask yourself these questions and listen intently for the answers from within yourself:
~What are the three most important things I need to do today? (Keep it to three so that you can truly focus on them.)
~Are these things in alignment with my purpose (of becoming who I am authentically)?
~If so, what are the actions I need to take right now and for the rest of the day to move forward with these three things?
~If not, must I absolutely do this activity? How could I eliminate or diminish spending time on this now or in the future?
If several things seem important or if you aren't sure what to do, then take that leap of faith. Just do something that you think might move you toward your authentic self. Even if you are wrong, the experience will provide you information for making choices in the future.
“Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.” ~Author Unknown
3. Learning from past experiences
In fact, making mistakes and tapping in to the wisdom from past failures and successes provides a library of subconscious resources for making decisions in the moment.
According to the blog Science Daily (May 15, 2009), research conducted by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has shown that “past experience really does help when we have to make complex decisions based on uncertain or confusing information. They show that learning from experience actually changes the circuitry in our brains so that we can quickly categorize what we are seeing and make a decision or carry out appropriate actions.”
We have a hard drive of past experiences wired in our brains which we can readily access — often subconsciously. Our intuition draws from these past experiences, allowing the “right” decision to rise to the surface.
And of course, we can tap into past experience very consciously to help us decide what we do and don't want to repeat in our lives — and to help us further define the person we want to be.
Mistakes and failures are stepping stones on the path of becoming a fully realized person. They are a necessary part of personal evolution and embracing your life purpose. When you view them as such, you can release some of the negative emotions (guilt, fear, shame) that hold you back from taking action.
4. Managing your time
The final essential step in living your life purpose right now is practical but necessary. There are 24 hours in a day and only about 17 waking hours. Then subtract the time to eat, shower, and handle the necessary tasks of living. What you have remaining is what you have to work with in living purposefully.
You will have many, many more purpose-driven activities than you will have hours in a day. You have to prioritize — or simply choose. You will need to balance your time between the various important aspects of your life.
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” ~Elwyn Brooks White
The idea is not to cram as much as you can in a moment or day or lifetime. The idea is to make every moment count, with full focus on what you have chosen to do because you know with certainty that it is part of your “becoming.” When you fill every moment with purpose, you are living a life of purpose.
Your life purpose isn't something you attain at the end of your life. It is something you live in the here and now by constantly creating your life in response to your evolving awareness of who you really are.