Why We Need To Find Purpose In Life.
When September approaches each year and I see all kinds of young people preparing to head off to university for the first time, I am struck by how many actually have a clear idea of what they want in life.
For many their decisions stems no further than just get a general business, arts, or science degree and see where it takes them.
There is nothing wrong with that. Studying new subjects is a great eye-opener and as good a way as any to figure out what you want to do with your life.
But it is hard when you really have no idea what road you want to take.
I always think of a woman from history I greatly admire, the 19th-century astronomer Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) and her observation about our life’s work. She wrote:
“To know what one ought to do is certainly the hardest thing in life. ‘Doing’ is comparatively easy.”
The difficult thing for all of us in life, regardless of the circumstances and culture we are born into, is to realize that to really know the life we want to life, we have to take steps towards it and see where our path takes us.
That is because the choices we make in life about what we think we will do with it are limited by our own perception of what we feel capable of doing (and this can be influenced by culture and upbringing), as well as what we feel is possible to do (and this is influenced by economics, support systems, and culture as well).
To that end, we cannot know when we start what we will be. But we do know that we have started to find our purpose, and every course, every job, and every person we meet will advance us closer and closer to that person we will become.
If we don’t have purpose in our lives, all our journeys in all our days seem futile. We become vulnerable to depression and just the boredom of a humdrum existence.
But when we are engaged with something bigger than ourselves, we rise in the morning eager to get at our work. We don’t have to decide if we want to work on a project that day; we don’t even consider not going to work on it. In a way, life is far less complicated when you have a purpose. You know what you want to do, have to do, and you do it.
You think less about yourself and more about your work, and that can be beneficial for your mental and physical health. You are less likely to allow yourself to be mired in worry because you have a task at hand that you must do. You are less likely to allow yourself to be anxious, because you have something to focus your attention on, something bigger than yourself.
This is true regardless of your age and stage of life. Numerous studies have concluded that a sense of purpose is conducive to a healthier and fuller life whether we are in our 20s or in our 90s.
We have a healthier self-esteem when we have a purpose because we can see clearly how we are adding value to the world and to the lives of those around us.
Purpose gives us hope for the next day and the next week and the next year because we want to attain our goals and we believe that our lives and the lives of others will be better when we do what needs to be done. Even patients with chronic illness have been found to live longer when they believe they are needed for a specific purpose.
Get to know yourself and your purpose in life. It is okay to change your purpose at different stages of life, or to focus on one purpose for a period of time and then focus on an entirely different purpose. There is no law that says purpose can’t change as we change.
All that matters is that we keep it alive and guiding us into our tomorrows.
Paula Morand, CSP is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold expert brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and bold impact. 24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 14 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
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