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What Is My Purpose in Life: 33 Secrets to Find Meaning When You Feel Lost

Do you ever sit and wonder ‘what is my purpose in life?’ If you do, it’s time to do some deep thinking to enhance the quality of your life for good. 

what is my purpose in life

From time to time we all ponder the meaning of life. Those thoughts often lead to others, such as “what is my purpose in life?” Are you meant to do something amazing? If so, what exactly is it?

Most of us sit down and wonder about this occasionally, but we let it float in and out of our minds; we don’t quite know the answer straight away.

The thing is, actually understanding what your purpose is can bring great rewards. Knowing the reason you’re here *other than to live a full and healthy life* can help steer you in the direction you want to go. [Read: How to break through the rut of what am I doing with my life]

What is purpose, exactly?

When we say purpose, we’re not talking about someone tapping you on the shoulder before you were born and instructing you on the things you must do during your years to come. This is something within you that you want to do, but you’re not quite sure what it is yet.

Most of us have experienced a vague feeling of needing to do something, but we just don’t quite know what the something is.

We might want to help people, but we don’t know how; we might want to do something active, within nature, but pinpointing it down to a specific one is hard.

A purpose is not a reason for your being here, it’s something you should achieve to be happy and fulfilled in your own life. A purpose is not about someone else, it’s about you.

For that reason, whether you believe in prophecies or not, for the purposes of this feature, let’s forget it and focus on the here and now. Let’s focus on you and your happiness, now and in the future. A purpose is something that fulfills you, and you alone. [Read: 15 ways to live your life to the fullest]

Why we need purpose in our lives

Passion and purpose are similar, but they also have some unique differences.

Following your passion is doing something you deeply desire and have great enthusiasm toward. Say it’s sports, writing, or photography; doing something you love is following your passion.

However, having purpose is turning your passion into something that you can do, to change a certain situation, and make a difference.

Purpose isn’t necessarily asking yourself “why am I here?” It’s more about taking your passion and putting it into action. [Read: Secret to happiness – The uncomplicated guide for a happy life]

The three kinds of purpose that we demand from life

The types of purpose that people have come to need, and are starting to demand out of their jobs and daily routines are personal, social, and public purpose.

But what do each of these three types of purpose specifically entail?

1. Personal purpose

Personal purpose is about allowing each individual space for personal growth and expression. Nowadays, people are less willing to do meaningless work that doesn’t allow them to follow their passions and challenge them in any significant way.

People want to do what they love, and at the same time, keep growing as an individual. [Read: Small ways to deal with big changes in your life]

2. Social purpose

Social purpose is when an individual feels empowered and valued by their surrounding community. For many years, and arguably still, we have lost the connection to the people around us.

Technology has made it too easy to avoid human contact and hibernate at our desks on our computers and cell phones.

Social purpose gives us the ability to reconnect with the people around us, and begin to relearn the importance of healthy human relationships that many of us have been programmed to overlook.

3. Public purpose

Public purpose is when we offer something to those around us and provide a service to someone or something in need. It is giving toward something greater than us.

In the world today, that is something a lot of people have recognized the value and importance of, and therefore, want to contribute toward. [Read: Simple ways to inspire the people around you]

5 things having a purpose in life can do for you

Purpose is being demanded by many people and no wonder; doing meaningless things isn’t going to cut it much longer. People want to have personal purpose, they want the ability to connect with the people around them and they want to serve people and places in need.

There are many things that having a purpose can do for a person. We can think of five important ones in particular. [Read: How to develop empathy and master the art of growing a real heart]

1. Purpose gives you meaning

Having meaning doesn’t always have to translate to something spiritual or religious. When a person has a purpose, they understand what cause/s are important to them and work toward contributing to those in a positive way.

While you are pursuing your passion and following your purpose, whether it is in a career or your spare time, you get a deep gratification often unattainable if you are doing meaningless tasks on a day-to-day basis.

For example, when an organization’s purpose is to offer clean drinking water solutions to communities without resources, they find meaning while following their passion for sustainability.

With issues like climate change and poverty are no longer avoidable, our world today has so many opportunities for people to find fulfillment by doing something with a purpose greater than themselves. [Read: Steps to change your life and find your own happiness]

2. Purpose gives you determination

If you have a clear passion, backed with a purpose, there is nothing more motivating. If you know what it is you want to do, why you want to do it, and what the outcomes could be, you will have incredible focus and drive.

You will devise a plan on how to get there, and you will make it happen because you have a very clear vision and goal.

A recent graduate who has a devoted passion for law, and a purpose to vocalize the need for fair and consistent contraceptive rights for working women is going to have a very clear vision of what they would like to achieve next.

Purpose allows for a focus and drive that perhaps passion alone can’t always muster. [Read: Sense of self – What it is, 36 signs, tips and steps to raise and feel great]

3. Purpose gives you confidence

Purpose allows an individual, or an organization, to feel confident and secure in where they are going, and the choices they are making. People unfortunately will doubt you and try to knock you down.

However, if you have a purpose that is clear and you are passionate about, you will remain self-assured and composed even when you face obstacles, which you undoubtedly will at some point. [Read: Big telltale excuses that get you nowhere]

4. Purpose can lead to a stellar career

When you have a passion and define yourself a purpose, a very amazing career may transpire. Well, it won’t appear from thin air, you will definitely have to do some legwork. But if you’ve got a purpose, you’ve got the opportunity to find a job that lets you live out your passion and make a difference.

Say, for example, your purpose in life is to work with an organization to overcome societal barriers by engaging communities and bringing them together. That is a purpose that you could apply to so many fulfilling careers.

You could work on a team that brings business opportunities to impoverished communities or leads self-confidence and leadership workshops for at-risk youth. When you have a purpose, and you stick to it, the career possibilities are near-endless. [Read: Things to think about to make your life a lot better]

5. Purpose results in success

Whether you’re following a purpose in your career, or in your life in general, you are bound to find success.

When you are working toward something that brings you personal growth, reconnects you with your surrounding communities, and allows you to give back, you will feel accomplished in a way that is extremely rewarding.

Success always means something different for each individual—but if success is happiness, a rewarding career, or the chance to contribute to a greater cause, then you are likely to find it when you have a defined purpose.

Questions that help you find your life’s purpose

Identifying your purpose and answering the “what is my purpose in life” question really comes down to deep thinking and self-reflection. [Read: The art of not giving a shit – How to not care and do what you must do]

Thankfully, there are a few questions you can ponder that will help you turn your attention in the right direction.

1. What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

When we’re young, we do what makes us happy and we don’t think about anything else. So, it’s likely that when you were young, you used to indulge in something that is perhaps meant to be your purpose.

If you’ve given it up, your younger self wouldn’t be happy!

2. What makes you forget to eat?

If something engrosses you so much that it makes you forget everything else in life, that’s what you’re supposed to spend your time doing. [Read: How to be successful in life]

3. How can you better embarrass yourself?

We’re all too quick to take life too seriously that we forget that it’s actually supposed to be fun! So, forget about embarrassing yourself and hiding away; what can you do to get out there and laugh at yourself?

Maybe you’ll find something super-fun from this experiment.

4. How are you going to save the world?

When pondering “what is my purpose in life” you don’t always have to come up with something life-changing, but in some cases, it can be that way.

So, how are you going to save the world in your own way? [Read: Most famous couples in history and how they changed the world]

5. If you had to leave the house all day, every day, where would you go and what would you do?

If someone actually put a gun to your head and made you do this, what would be your go-to activity? Where would you spend your time? Don’t think too much, just go with the first thing that pops into your mind.

Maybe that’s where your purpose lies.

Gun to your head, if you had to leave the house all day, every day, where would you go and what would you do?

6. If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?

Sometimes, thinking in this morbid way can show us what we desperately want in life but we’ve buried down deep for fear of being judged. [Read: How to get your life back on track after a big change]

How to find purpose in life

Once you’ve answered these soul-searching questions, it’s time to get even more practical. When questioning “what is my purpose in life,” these suggestions will help you come up with a route forward that will bring you fulfillment and joy.

But remember, your purpose is unique to everyone else’s. Don’t try and copy another person’s purpose because you can’t think of your own. Take your time and it will come to you!

1. Search inward

Your purpose is inside of you, you just need to encourage it to come out with a little careful thinking. It might take time, but soul-searching will always bring great results. [Read: 25 honest, self-reflection questions to recognize the real you inside]

2. Put purpose before goals

Goals are great, but your purpose will always bring you more fulfillment than something you’re aiming toward. This is what your entire life is about, so prioritize identifying your purpose over any goal you’re trying to reach.

3. Focus on what you have

Some people overlook their purpose because they’re far too preoccupied with the things they want but don’t have. It’s very likely that your purpose lies in something you already have in your life.

4. Take ownership of your life

Nobody is going to do this for you; this is your life and you’re the one who has to live it and find what you’re looking for.

Stop waiting to be told what to do and go out there and live! [Read: Things about love you’ll only learn from experience]

5. Think of what brings you joy

What really makes you smile and causes you to feel an immense sense of fulfillment? That’s very likely to be part of your purpose.

6. Develop your own life vision statement

You can use a mood board to come up with this, but your life vision statement is what you want to achieve. Once you know that, identifying your purpose becomes a whole lot easier.

7. Discover your true needs

What do you really need in life to be happy? Is it to achieve a certain thing, or to have something? Sometimes, we think we need something, but in truth we just want it. Separating the two is useful here. [Read: How to take care of yourself emotionally and avoid falling apart]

8. Write out your story

Start from the beginning. Write about your childhood and your years up to this moment. Then, think carefully about where you want the story to go. That will certainly steer you in the right direction when thinking of your purpose.

9. Take time for yourself

Don’t go running around doing everything for everyone else and forget your own needs. Self-care is important because it allows you the time you need to think and ponder.

10. Embrace acceptance

Is there something in your life that you wish you could change? If you can’t change it, accept it. When you accept yourself and your life as it is, you’ll find freedom and the ability to search your soul more easily. [Read: Achieving self-acceptance – Little steps for one big change]

11. Find your community

When you’re around people you have a lot in common with, you feel like you’ve found your second home. In this case, you can be inspired to achieve things you could only have dreamed of before.

12. Be flexible

It’s important to have an open mind when you’re pondering “what is my purpose in life.” If you’re rigid in your thinking, you may be missing out on some extremely useful opportunities that will lead you in the right direction.

13. Develop a growth mindset

When you have a growth mindset, you see opportunities where others see roadblocks. This is important when exploring your future and working out what you want to do with it. [Read: How to be chill and learn to live a happier life as a result]

14. Give back

Doing good deeds for others and giving to the local community helps to breed self-confidence but it’s also very useful when finding your purpose. Go with your gut and give/volunteer to causes that hold your heart.

15. Practice gratitude

Being grateful for what you have in your life stops you from wishing you had more. That’s essential in any self-development journey because wanting things you don’t have and don’t need often clouds your judgment. When you’re grateful, you’re happy for any opportunity that comes your way. [Read: Inspiring ways to bring out the best in yourself]

16. Turn your pain into purpose

What has hurt you in the past? Don’t dredge up those painful feelings, but instead use them as a push toward something you want.

If a certain thing made you feel angry and you wanted to change it, could that be your purpose?

17. Explore your passions

Spend more time doing the things you love and don’t be the slightest bit guilty about it! When you throw yourself into these things, you’ll find the purpose you’re longing for.

18. Read

Reading is a great way to learn knowledge but focus your mind. Who knows, you might read something which lights a fire within you and leads you to what you’re trying to find out. [Read: Books that will teach you lessons about your love life]

19. Join a cause

Is there a particular cause you’re passionate about? If so, join it and do some good work for them. That sense of doing good will help you to feel a part of something and lead you toward your purpose.

Wondering “what is my purpose in life” is just part of the journey

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. The moment you start wondering about your life’s purpose, you’re taking steps in the right direction. Do what feels right for you.

It can be anything. Perhaps you decide you want to work with animals or become a gardener because being outside makes you feel calm and centered. Maybe you want to play music as an expression of your emotions that you struggle to cope with in any other way. Or you want to become a doctor because of an overwhelming urge to help other people in their time of need.

It doesn’t matter what it is. Nor does it doesn’t matter how much you think people will judge you for it. If it’s your purpose, then it’s what you’re meant to do. You’ll know because of how it makes you feel.

[Read: How to find happiness within yourself and manifest a better tomorrow]

Feeling a little low, perhaps a little lost, and constantly asking yourself “what is my purpose in life?” Don’t worry. You’re far from alone. We’ve all been there, and who knows what will come next!

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...