How to discover your sense of purpose

Viktor Frankl once wrote: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” And he’s not wrong. Have you ever been so preoccupied with rushing around completing various tasks and the day ends, and you wonder what you’ve actually achieved? Without a sense of meaning or purpose, every day can become a slog and leave you feeling unfulfilled personally.

As a species, it is pretty clear that generally, we are lacking in a true sense of purpose. There is a plethora of self-help books, apps that help us meditate, websites and blogs that promise to help you change and develop.

But developing your own sense of purpose isn’t necessarily found on the latest social media post. It is found through the development of your own personal long-term goals. These provide direction and focus and are meaningful to you specifically. It is this focus that can put a spring in your step, motivate and energise you.

Those who see their work as a calling have a far greater sense of purpose than those that see it just as a ‘job’. Considering how much of your life is spent working, it seems almost criminal that we can be left feeling so unmotivated towards it and see is just as another ‘to do’. If you are working on a project, or completing a task you believe doesn’t really matter, or won’t make any difference, you need to relook at what you do. It should matter. If you believe in what you do, and know why you are doing it, it greatly improves your sense of purpose within that role. And enables feelings of achievement.

However even those with the strongest sense of purpose can lose sight of the bigger picture as they get bogged down with day-to-day hassle and never-ending to-do lists. Daily routine and pressures can burn us out and make us feel demoralised and that is when you need to stop and shift your perspective back to the long-term goal.

But how can you find your sense of purpose?

If your sense of purpose isn’t clear or you don’t think you have found your calling, start by looking at your week, and identifying when you felt a sense of motivation or purpose – this might be feelings of excitement and energy or perhaps a feeling of calm and clarity. At the end of the week, look back on these events and see if there is a pattern or category in which they happen.

Alternatively, look outwards to people you admire. Famous people with values that are in line with your own, or perhaps someone aspirational at work. What you admire and value in others is a reflection of your own best self.

There is no short cut to finding your sense of purpose – and Google won’t give you the answer. This is a life-long process that may change over time, but what is important is to surround yourself with positive people, make time to reflect in what you are doing and where your passions lie, and ensuring your day-to-day life follows this passion as much as possible.