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5 Ways to Discover Your Purpose

If you missed my thoughts on Clarity of Purpose and why it’s important, you might want to read my thoughts here. There is great value in understanding why it’s so important to take the time to clarify your purpose.

Here are five practical steps you can take in order to get to this place of clarity:

1. Identify Your Strengths.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably blind to your strengths. Chances are you take them for granted. Ask your family and friends what they see as your strengths. Or go to www.strengthsfinder.com and take the renowned assessment. The Strengths Finder research is clear that people who live from their strengths have more fulfilling lives.

You may already have a sense of what you’re good at in terms of skills and abilities, but there are deeper aspects of Self that we often don’t fully recognize.

This might seem like an obvious first step, and you may want to skip over it. Please don’t. I promise you will be greatly surprised by the perspectives of others or what the assessment indicates. Don’t sell yourself short. Just go for it.

You can’t determine where you’re going if you don’t know who you are.

2. Develop a Life Line.

Literally, draw up a straight line and divide it into increments of 5 or 10 years. Write down the significant events of your life over the course of this time frame. What were the best years? What were the most challenging? What were you doing? Who with? What results did you create? When did you feel the most satisfied?

Jot down any important thoughts, feelings, or memories surrounding those events. Do you see a pattern? Where did your center feel the most vibrant? Were your strengths being utilized during this time period? Are you living this life now or is there something that needs to change?

This exercise will help you gain clarity of what you’re being called to do next. For example, when I engaged in this process some years ago, I learned that I have always been about helping people realize their highest potential. It’s who I am, it’s what I do.

Through the years, I have done this in a variety of ways, but the point is, if I’m not serving others in some way, I feel empty and lost. Whenever I begin to feel this way, I now know it’s because I’m outside the scope of my overall purpose.

3. Develop a Personal Mission Statement.

If you've done that, been there, it may be time to look at your Personal Mission Statement again. If you don’t have one, this is a must. As the renowned Stephen Covey used to say, it’s easier to say “no” when you have a bigger “yes.”

The Mission Statement is your bigger “yes,” and it should reflect your values and beliefs. It is a written agreement with yourself, a compass for the present and for the future. Even more important than the actual statement is the process of figuring it out.

I fought the premise underlying a Personal Mission Statement for many, many years. Don’t make that mistake. Take the time to develop one. When I finally made that commitment, I not only gained Clarity of Purpose, I redesigned my business, my life, and my income tripled.

If you’re not sure how to develop a Mission Statement, here are two books I used to help me develop mine. Stephen Covey’s First Things First and The Path by Laurie Beth Jones. I used Covey to get my mind wrapped around the process. I then used The Path to help me craft a tighter statement.

You want the statement to be broad enough to encompass your strengths, values, and beliefs, but it should be tight enough to commit to memory. Mine is only one sentence, but it carries a whole lot of purpose. I can’t tell you how often I refer to it before committing to a new idea or direction.

If you’re looking for a more concise approach to this process, leave me a comment below, and I’ll send you a formula I use to help my own clients develop their Personal Mission Statements.

4. Develop an Action Plan.

Clarity of Purpose means nothing if you can’t execute on what you’re about. Take the time to reflect on what you need to do in order to be intentionally congruent with your new-found or revitalized purpose. I’m in the process or redefining my plan now. My purpose hasn't changed, but how I implement it has changed due to several circumstances.

New life requires a new plan.

There are lots of ways to develop this plan. It doesn't have to be a big overwhelming plan. I map mine out by quarter based on what I call the Pillars of Excellence. These Pillars represent the aspects of my business and life that warrant daily consideration.

As the old adage goes, Fail to Plan, and You Can Plan to Fail.

5. Learn to Change a Flat Tire While Driving.

Starting a new business or chapter in your life can be threatening and scary. It’s like trying to change a flat tire while driving. What I mean by this is that your life just doesn't stop while you figure out what’s next.

Be prepared to adapt as you go along. Remember the analogy of the kaleidoscope from last week. You are not a static being. You are ever changing and evolving.

The tools I’ve mentioned above are just that, tools. They won’t solve your life dilemmas, and there is no magic to them. All they do is help you reflect, focus, and clarify.

You still have bills to pay, kids to feed, and a boss or business to accommodate. What I can promise you is that if you take the time to reflect and engage in the steps I have given you, you will land in an entirely new place.

This is a process, and it will take more than one sitting. Jump off this treadmill called life. Take time to do the work, and enjoy! The question is not whether you have the time to engage in the process. The question is, Do you believe you’re worth it?

Q: If you would like a copy of my adapted version of how to develop a Personal Mission Statement, you may leave a comment here.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. April 8, 2014