If someone came to visit you today and asked what the purpose of your life really is, how would you answer it? Would you point to something such as your work and answer the question in light of that? Would you start to list someone, or a group of someone’s in an effort to answer the question? Do you have an answer to the question? Having an answer is critical for anyone who hopes to live a full and successful life; one that makes an impact.
When you read about the topic of purpose there is no shortage of advice and multi-step programs on how to discover it. In fact, when you google finding purpose, there are more than 890 MILLION results! The topic is a relevant one because it has such impact on how we live our lives. 1Patrick Hill, an assistance professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis said that, “purposeful individuals tend to be less reactive to stressors and more engaged, generally, in their daily lives, which can promote cognitive and physical health.” Purposeful people keep their minds and their bodies engaged which has been directly linked to living longer.
How each of us answers the question of purpose is more critical than ever because we live in a fast-paced, demanding world that is more than happy to define purpose for you. We are bombarded with images and messages that encourage us to define purpose by our achievements, or the achievements of those around us. Advertisements, magazine articles, and social media often highlight the best-of-the-best of life and then challenge each of us to go for it; dedicate your life to the pursuit of happiness. One of the challenges with that line of thinking is that life does not always feel happy and the achievement of things rarely satisfies our inherent desire for more. A defined purpose helps to clear out the noise and allows you to focus on what really matters – to you. Ultimately, purpose will provide a crystal-clear view of how YOU define success.
So, what’s your purpose? When you look at the collection of activities on your calendar, the ways in which you spend your money, and who you spend the majority of your time with, what does it say about your purpose? Are you busy doing a lot of things, but not sure if they are really adding up to something? If so, then take time to consider your purpose. Decide to put in the work of thinking about it, writing it down, refining it a bit, and finally boldly sharing it with those closest to you. It’s hard work, but don’t forget, living with purpose will help you live longer, so you may just have the time!!
1 The Washington Post, September 24, 2017, Want to Stay Strong as You Age article.