Have you ever asked yourself, “What is the meaning of life? Seriously, what IS the purpose of life?!”
Not too many years ago, my life was missing something.
I was constantly asking myself, “Is this IT?! Isn’t there more to life than THIS?!” But I didn’t share those questions with anyone because nobody else seemed to ‘get it.’ I felt so lonely… almost hopeless… and I was afraid life would be like that forever.
Wanna know what made things even worse?
I was “successful” in the eyes of a lot of people. I felt guilty and ungrateful for even playing with the idea of walking away from a position that so many other people would have killed to be in!
But I couldn’t keep pretending that everything was okay. In my heart, I knew something was missing. And although I didn’t know exactly what that was or what my next steps were, I knew I couldn’t carry on like this forever.
In the years that followed, I learned how to create a life filled with a crazy deep sense of purpose, sustainable happiness, and getting paid to do work I love while making a meaningful impact in the world.
In today’s blog post, I’m gonna share with you 7 specific ways to tell if you’re not living on purpose. Then I’m gonna show you 7 actions you can take now to live with more purpose.
And at the end of the post, I’m gonna give you a chance to grab an amazing guide for free called the Purpose Pack. It’ll help you get started living a life you love, overcome your fear, and find what you really want to do.If you just wanna grab the Purpose Pack for free right now, you can do that here.
Now let’s look at 7 ways to tell if you’re not living your highest purpose in life.
1. You’re not waking up excited in the morning.
If you’re not excited (or at least enthusiastic) in the morning — then you’re most likely not living your highest purpose. If you’re waking up a couple of days each week with a monotonous feeling of having to do “this” again today — that’s probably a sign that you’re “off purpose.” When you’re Living On Purpose, you wake up excited in the morning because a personally exciting life awaits you.
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs
2. You have really “high highs” and really “low lows.”
If you can’t seem to break the phenomenon of feeling absolutely phenomenal for a few days, but then kind of crappy afterward — you’re most likely not living in alignment with the purpose of life. If you can notice a pattern of thinking how amazing life is one week, and how shitty it is the next — that’s probably a sign that you’re “off purpose.” When you’re Living On Purpose, you still have the really high highs but you also have much higher lows (and your happiness becomes sustainable).
“I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed. I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live – that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.” – Dan Millman
3. Your life isn’t entirely fulfilling you anymore.
If, despite knowing that you have SO much to be grateful for, deep inside there’s a feeling that something’s missing in your life — then you’re most likely not connected to the meaning of life. If you’re doing a lot of the things that society suggests are “right,” but you still feel that something is wrong — that’s probably a sign that you’re “off purpose.” When you’re Living On Purpose, you’re entirely fulfilled because you’re living a life engulfed in personal meaning.
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller
4. You’re surrounded by people who are bringing you down.
If you find yourself surrounded by people who are bitching, nagging, criticizing, complaining, and condemning — then you’re most likely not living the purpose of life. If you don’t have a group of people in your life who’s qualities you admire — that’s probably a sign that you’re “off purpose.” When you’re Living On Purpose, you’re spending the majority of your time with people who inspire, empower, and encourage you to be a better person.
5. You’re ignoring your dreams because you’re scared to move on.
If a couple times each month you start to fantasize about what you would do if you had more free time — then you’re most likely disconnected from the meaning of life. If there are a ton of things you’d rather be doing with your life, but haven’t yet found a way to muster up the courage to tell your family and friends — that’s probably a sign that you’re “off purpose.” When you’re Living On Purpose, you’re spending your time doing the things that you love most in life (whether your family and friends understand/agree with you or not).
“If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.” – Abraham Maslow
6. You’re working in a job that depletes you of energy.
If the primary purpose of your job is to get a paycheck and there’s not much personal meaning in what you do — then you’re most likely not living your highest purpose. If you’re counting the days until the next three-day weekend or six-day vacation — that’s probably a sign that you’re “off purpose.” When you’re Living On Purpose, you don’t just have a job but you have a calling (one of the many differences between a “job” and a “calling” is that a job depletes you and a calling energizes you).
“The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.” – Buddha
7. You feel stuck in the “rat race” but don’t know the next step.
If you’re in a perpetual state of thinking that you’ll be “happier when” the next good thing happens and you’re not enjoying the journey — then you’re most likely not living the meaning of life. If you’re so focused on getting “there” that you’ve accepted being submerged in stress and anxiety as normal — that’s probably a sign that you’re “off purpose.” When you’re Living On Purpose, you’ve embraced that the priceless pleasure of life comes from enjoying the journey on your way to a destination deemed meaningful.
“For a master, the rewards gained along the way are fine, but they are not the main reason for the journey. Ultimately the master and the master’s path are one. And if the traveler is fortunate — that is, if the path is complex and profound enough — the destination is two miles farther away for every mile he or she travels.” – George Leonard
If any of the above resonated with you, you’re not alone.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was the poster-child for embodying all 7 of the above mistakes (plus a dozen more). Over and over, I’d just keep asking myself “what is my purpose?”
It’s precisely because I’ve felt that pain — and was able to escape it and find my purpose — that I wrote an entire guide called Living On Purpose that helps you do the same.
Now let’s look at 7 tips for how to live your purpose…
Here are 7 tricks to help you with finding your purpose:
1. Make your motivations intrinsic.
Realize This: When it comes up finding purpose in life, society sets us up for failure because it motivates us with extrinsic incentives like fame, wealth, and beauty. Chasing these things are flashy and fun for a short time but ultimately unfulfilling. They’re like drinking salt-water when you’re thirsty.
Take This Action: To remove those “low low” feelings, focus on intrinsic incentives like relationships, contribution, and personal growth. Create a life around them and you’ll be super On Purpose.If you’d like help removing the low feelings, grab a free copy of the Purpose Pack.
“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” – Barack Obama
2. Live in integrity with your values.
Untold Truth: If you want to stop asking yourself “what is the purpose of life”, you’re gonna need to know what you stand for. I’ve found that the best way to know what you stand for is to get clarity on what it is that you value. What’s important to you? What do you give a shit about? If you were running for the toilet and had no time to think, could you tell me what your top five values are without stopping and soiling yourself?
Take This Action: To help find your values, question things. Try stuff out. Experiment. Do the opposite of what you were told. Step outside of the box. CRACK YOUR COMFORT ZONE! And then *reflect on what’s important to you.* Once you know what’s important to you and the more that you act in accordance with those values, the better you’re gonna feel about yourself.If you’d love to know your top 5 core values, use the worksheet in my free Purpose Pack.
“If you want to be faithful to someone, start by being faithful to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho
3. Become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Realize This: Our lives are limited within the confines of our “comfort zone.” When we get out of our comfort zone and become uncomfortable, WE WIN LIFE! The cool thing about comfort zones is that when we step outta them, they grow! That’s right — by being momentarily uncomfortable, we own our fear, and in the future, the things that scared us aren’t so intimidating anymore. If you want to find your purpose, you’re probably going to have to do things that you’ve never done before — and in order to do them, you’re going to need to get outside of your comfort zone.
Take This Action: Feel that discomfort, and despite its presence, go do what you need to do. The more you do that, the less uncomfortable you’ll feel in the future. Make it a game to become comfortable being uncomfortable and you’ll be finding meaning in life much sooner.If you’d like to learn more about how to overcome fear, grab a free copy of the Purpose Pack.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
4. Embark on the Hero’s Journey.
Realize This: This “Hero’s Journey” is the common thread amongst all great characters (and stories) in life. Your soul is calling to you. It’s tryna tell you that you have a unique path that only you can take. Your mind can rationalize all sorts of award-winning reasons why you shouldn’t take the untraveled trail. But to deny that call from your soul is to deny yourself the life that you deserve to live. It’s the difference between being fully ALIVE and cruising aimlessly on auto-pilot all your life.
Take This Action: In order to create an extraordinary life, you’re going to need to walk away from what you know. You’re going to have to face your fears, improve your conditioning, and create your own unique path. You’re going to feel scared, excited, and alive!
5. Combine your strengths with your passions.
Realize This: People who are Living On Purpose are continuously using their strengths while doing work that matters to them on a daily basis.
Take This Action: Science is suggesting that instead of focusing on your weaknesses, cultivate the crap outta your strengths. This is what will make you extraordinary. Then use your strengths to do things that make you excited and watch a sense of confidence and fulfillment appear within you (and if you mix service to other people in the mix, your purpose will appear before you know it!).Wanna learn your top strengths and how to apply them? Do the worksheet in my free Purpose Pack.
“I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” – Martin Seligman
6. Avoid the trap of validation.
Realize This: As a baby, we need love. So from a young age we create images of ourselves, pretending to be what we think other people want us to be. Then we project these images onto our relationships and try our best to actually be the images. But of course, we can’t ever completely conform to someone else’s vision. And this is how inner conflict originates. When people start to feel a discrepancy between the image they’re projecting, and their authentic selves, MAJOR conflict arises within them.
Take This Action: In order to find and live your purpose, you’re gonna need to become indifferent of other people’s opinions of you. This goes for both the good and the bad opinions of other people — they can both be used as forms of validation if unchecked. Here’s a counter-intuitive tidbit of wisdom: The less you look for other people’s approval, the more of it they’ll give to you.
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
7. Grab a free copy of The Purpose Pack!
Realize This: If you want to stop asking “what is the meaning of life”, finding and living your purpose is not only something you can do, it’s something you must do. You can continue to live a boring life without sustained happiness, and you can pretend you don’t know there’s more to life, but one day — maybe in a few months, or maybe in a few decades — you may wake up miserable and resenting yourself for not doing something about it when you had the chance.Grab it here!
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” – Robin Sharma
Featured image courtesy of the #1 travel photography blog, Stuck In Customs.