Life purpose

How Do You Determine Your Life Purpose (and what to do once you have it)

And once you do… then what?

Around six years ago, I was doing my coaching certification with the Co-Active Training Institute and came up with my life purpose. I even wrote a blog post about how to determine your purpose and align it with your career.

Now, six years later, I am immersed in an exciting leadership program with the same institute (it’s a pretty amazing organization). Once again, I was asked to come up with my life purpose. This time, I was to also determine my “leadership quests” from my purpose.

Now, many people think a life purpose is, well, for life! And it can be. But, it can also evolve as you evolve. For me, that’s a really good thing. Growth is one of my core values. It can be challenging and even painful, but also really exciting to experience my own development and experience my life continually expanding and bringing new gifts.

 

Before we get into determining your life purpose… why is having one important?

A life purpose is like a guiding star. When you’ve determined yours, you can tune into it every day to establish the energy for how you want to show up everywhere you go, and with everyone you meet. It also determines your quests (your journeys, goals, or discoveries) and helps you ensure the decisions you make are aligned with the direction you want to move towards.

A life purpose works really well alongside your core values and big picture vision. All together, they guide you to continually engage with your higher self and move in the right direction for you.

 

So there I was, six years later, knowing my previous life purpose was no longer serving me.

It served me at the time, but that now felt like many moons ago. It isn’t me anymore and, as I sat in that classroom, I was struggling to determine a purpose that resonated with the current me, and the me I was becoming.

I believe in asking powerful questions to excavate what needs to come up, so I tried asking myself things like, “When do I feel I am at my best? When do I feel I am living life on purpose?”

I was feeling stuck.

That’s when one of my leaders asked me, “What was one of the most painful things to happen to you in your life?”

Wow. I thought hard. I felt strong emotions emerging, which is scary, but also means something important is being excavated.

I realized that a recurring pattern throughout my life has been the feeling that I could never be accepted for being the true me. It stems from the fact that I didn’t get that acceptance, that unconditional love and approval, in childhood, and I have carried that feeling with me. It has always been a source of deep hurt.

However, the difference today is that I have worked hard on my personal growth and am totally okay with people not accepting the true me. I know that the right people do, and that’s all that matters.

I’ve learned that the only way to attract the right people and opportunities to you, is by being the authentic you. This lesson has been so impactful and empowering for me that I wrote my second book, Why Can’t I Just Be Me: Remove the Masks That Hide You From the World and Yourself, entirely around the topic (I’m putting this out there with confidence, joy and a scary – but healthy – dose of vulnerability to attract the right publisher).

 

With that realization, I started playing with different versions of my life purpose.

My first draft was, “I am the joyful lightworker who illuminates the leader within you, guiding you to bring it forward, bravely and unapologetically, in your work, home and community.”

My homework was to say it out loud to ten different people and see how it evolved. As I did, I could sense in my body what felt good and what needed tweaking. I heard people’s feedback of what they felt was me and what wasn’t. And it evolved.

It shifted and molded to become, “I am the joyful lightworker who empowers you to bring your true self forward, bravely and unapologetically, no matter where you are or who you are with.”

That was starting to feel a bit more me.

So I shared that statement with, Michael Wallace, an amazing coaching colleague. “I believe the statement needs to be short and it needs to punch me in the face, or at least slap me on the ass.” What a guy!

Okay. Ass slapping time.

I evolved my statement further to, “I am the lightworker that empowers you to be you, no apologies.”

I then had to share it with some of my tribe members in the leadership program. Their feedback was that it was good, but they saw me as a very energetic person, and felt the statement was missing a bit of energizing, eccentric, quirky Melissa-ness.

So we played with two more variations:

“I am the burst of light that energizes you to be you, no apologies.”

And…

“I am the quirky surge that energizes you to be you, no apologies.”

For days I was saying them both out loud, seeing what felt better; what resonated most in my body. I kept saying them over and over, playing with different variations. Still, I wasn’t feeling it 100%.

“I am the bright sun that energizes you to be you, no apologies.” Hmmm… not quite a punch in the face.

It still wasn’t perfect. Then, as I was preparing a presentation on preventing entrepreneur burnout, I was watching this clip from the Steve Jobs movie when my partner suggested I back up a point as something had clicked for him that he thought would click for me. I couldn’t stop watching it. I identified with the clip so much. It is everything I want to bring to the world, and everything I want to inspire others to bring forward. Because it is the crazy ones, the misfits that truly change the world. I knew, without a doubt, I had it!

And so, drumroll please……

“I am the misfit that energizes you to be you, no apologies.”

That feels so incredible to write down and even better to say out loud! It’s so totally me!

Once you can say your life purpose out loud and feel it resonate with you as truly part of you, reflective of you, your truth, your most amazing self… then it’s time to start meditating on how you can bring it forward into the world.

 

Time to bring your life purpose forward.

Determining your life purpose is a journey. And what a journey I had. One that reminded me of what truly matters to me, and brought me to a greater acceptance, understanding and joy in myself and what I want to move towards.

But, it’s also only part of a journey. The next step is… what to do with it!

Once you have it, you need to bring it forward into the world. A life purpose is more than a statement. It’s a personal call to action. Time to act!

Ask yourself, “What is a quest I could take on, personally or professionally, where I can bring my life purpose forward?”

Often, we do this on a personal level and love it so much that we eventually turn it into something we get paid for. But for now, focus on what is possible from where you are, right now.

 

Here are some of the quests that grew out of my life purpose, and that I am committing to:

  1. Publish my book, Why Can’t I Just Be Me, and create keynotes and workshops worldwide, guiding people on how to bring their true selves forward, no matter where they are, who they are with, or what they do.
  2. Work on that balance of having a heart of peace, setting healthy boundaries, and cutting out toxic people. I will evolve this balance on a personal level, and guide others on how to find and evolve their own balance. I will also incorporate these learnings into the keynotes and workshops in quest #1.
  3. Share coaching tools in schools so that children can learn empowering coaching techniques at an early age and use them to strengthen their sense of self, understand and practice self love, and even use these techniques to grow their decision making skills so that they are better equipped to succeed in their later life, education and career.

Before determining my new life purpose – one that reflects who I am today and who I am becoming – I would sometimes find myself struggling with my direction and what I wanted to work towards. As my career and personal life evolve, so many opportunities, ideas and possibilities arise. This newly refined focus is empowering me to prioritize and make decisions in a way that feels truly right to me.

And I want to share that with you. So I ask you, to ask yourself, “When do I feel I am at my best? When do I feel I am living life on purpose? What was one of the most painful things to happen to me in my life? Who, in my life, can I share this with to help me uncover and refine my purpose?”

Be open to what starts to emerge. Yes, it can be scary. But it can also be oh so joyful.

If you would like guidance and support in determining your life purpose and discovering your quests, please connect with me at [email protected]. Let’s make this happen!