It seems that we are happiest when we are living our lives with purpose. To some, that sounds incredibly obvious, but not to everyone. If you take a minute to look around you, many people are working toward the day when they have no purpose. That is their life plan. It would be my guess that if or when they get there, they will discover it is not as they had planned at all.
Purpose comes in all manner of shape and size. For some people, purpose is their job or their business, for some others it is their family, their children or their church. It could come in the shape of a task or a project or perhaps a journey. Without it though, people often feel lost or worse, some start to feel worthless. I see it all the time in people who have recently retired having worked with purpose all their lives. Suddenly they find themselves directionless, and often quite sad, maybe even depressed.
A task which brings me great joy is coaching coaches. Training them to be effective in their roles. One of the tasks I give them to do is work out their purpose. What drives them, what scares them, worries them and what brings them most joy. They find the task challenging but feedback tells me they also find this part of the training more useful than just about anything else they learn.
I have from time to time in my life lived without purpose and I have not enjoyed it one bit. Working a job that was meaningless to me, and not involved in anything else that gave me joy or a sense of fulfilment. Finding something that gives you purpose can be easier said then done though. By that I don’t mean something like your life’s purpose, not like “why am I here?” “who am I?” type purpose, though lets not rule that out entirely. I’m talking more about something smaller, more tangible, easier to grasp.
Having interviewed hundreds of people I am of the opinion that most people find some purpose as a by-product of their personal strengths. Is that too obvious? If someone is a super strong visualiser and a strong facilitator type, they get pleasure from and find purpose in visualising and helping others to do the same. If someone is good at building or wood-turning, they get a sense of purpose making things for other people. So what are your strengths? Do you know them? A lot of people have no idea, and some have a little bit of an idea without really knowing.
If you are feeling a bit lost, living your life without purpose, find someone capable of doing a strengths finder with you, or something similar. There are some free online versions which are worth doing but in my experience you are much better off seeking something a little more psychologically rigorous. Leadership trainers, or workplace councillors, or similar may be able to help.