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How to Find Your Purpose

What is your purpose? Why are you here? What is all this about anyway? These are universal questions we grapple for most of our lives and especially when faced with an existential crisis like a pandemic! But by slowing down our fast-paced American lifestyle, this pandemic has actually gifted us the perfect opportunity to invest some time into looking for the answers to those questions.

Here are three steps to finding your purpose:

  1. Identify Your Strengths and Talents. 

What are you naturally good at? What activities and skills come natural to you? What skills and activities do you love to work at? The activities and skills that come natural to us or those we love to work at are often sign posts that point us to our life’s purpose or calling. If we can match our natural strengths and gifts to our working environment or to a meaningful cause where those strengths and gifts are best utilized, this is where we will be the most successful, fulfilled, and likely to make the greatest impact.

The most influential and successful people devoted themselves to work or a cause that aligned with their strengths, gifts, and abilities. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, was a gifted speaker and influential philosopher whose compassionate leadership propelled the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s leading to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you’re not sure what your natural strengths and abilities are, seek out new experiences and try out different activities that you “think” might interest you. Volunteer at that clinic or hospital you’ve been curious about. Coach a local kids’ baseball or soccer team. Take up golf or the musical instrument you’ve always wanted to learn. Even if it doesn’t lead to a career in music or coaching, these new experiences will expand an awareness of your strengths and abilities and may help clarify what type of work is meaningful and fulfilling for you.

  1. Look Within. 

Spending intentional alone time every once in a while is the perfect way to tune into that small inner voice inside you. If you listen, those subtle little messages from your heart can prompt you in a certain direction or to take certain action. And if these messages have been tugging or pulling at your heart for a while, pay attention to that. Those are actually the gentle, quiet whispers of what you’re meant to be doing with your life either now or in the future. And, here’s the great news! Even if that action doesn’t immediately lead to the discovery of your life’s purpose, it’s getting you one step closer. Don’t ask God to spell it out for you in the sky--that’s not going to happen. God speaks to the innermost depths of your soul in small, soft impressions. But in order to hear them or to sense them, you have to take some time to be still and silent, listen within, and tune in. Spending some time alone, and getting to know yourself will not only help you become comfortable in your own skin, but will also help give you a stronger sense of what you want to do with your life.

3. Look for the Need.

There is so much seen and unseen need around us, especially during uncertain times such as we are living now. If you pay attention, both local and global events can open the doors of opportunity to get involved and make a difference. Local schools, college campuses, and neighborhoods have many social, systemic, and environmental needs. When you get actively involved in these communities, not only will you make a positive impact, you’ll discover what moves you and what you feel passionate about. Discovering a need or cause that you're passionate about almost always points you in the direction of your purpose. Just remember, you can’t commit to everything! Choose the thing that best suits your strengths and gifts and aligns with your values and interests.

Final Thoughts...

When seeking your purpose, keep the search inside. Don’t look to the cultural influences (or influencers) of the world. They’re on their own path. Trying to replicate someone else or follow in their path will only distract you from yours. Follow your own path--the one that is specifically carved out for you and most suitable for who you are and where you’re at in life.

Ask yourself: What is most important to you in life? What do you value most? Your values not only help guide you, but also collectively create and shape your life and mirror who you are and what you’re all about. And knowing who you want to be and what you want your life to be about will give your life purpose.

Through Elevate Life Counseling, my purpose and passion are to guide young adults to success in their relationships, career, and in life. Using cognitive behavior therapy, I help young adults expand their view of themselves and their relationships in order to expand their view of what’s possible for them and take action towards their goals. Ultimately, my purpose is to teach YOU how to elevate your life.

Jerry Ochoa, LPCC

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."  - Pablo Picasso