Once you’ve identified your purpose, it is time to start living it. This can feel a little overwhelming so here are a few ideas that may help you get started
Finding your purpose (or a working version of it) is a big step and not something that everyone decides to undertake. The fact that you have dedicated time and thought to working on this is brilliant.
In my experience, once you know what your purpose is, it is difficult to “unknow” it, even if your current life situation does not seem to reflect it. The important thing is that you have discovered it and can now take small steps towards living a more purposeful, fulfilling life.
Live your purpose today
When I first came to my purpose I felt a bit disheartened because I thought some of the things in my life didn’t align with it. My coach gave me some advice that really helped. Rather than worrying that everything needed a complete overhaul, his advice was to ask myself ‘how can I live my purpose today?’. I took this approach even with the less inspiring tasks in my life, and it immediately helped me to find ways to make them more rewarding and meaningful.
Using your purpose to decide what not to do can also be important. Do you really need to attend that meeting, social engagement or event because you think you “should”, even if it is not resonating with you? Could it be time to let a few things fall from your list of priorities to make time for the purposeful items?
Envision your perfect life in three years’ time
For the last two years I’ve made it part of my morning routine to spend some time imagining what my ideal life would look like in three years. Rather than imagining the same thing every day, I keep the vision fluid so my imagination can uncover new and exciting possibilities; all of them true to my purpose. I try to imagine as many small details as possible, and ask myself questions such as:
- Who am I spending time with?
- Where am I living?
- What can I see, touch, taste and smell?
- What work am I enjoying?
- What am I doing to help others?
Why the three year timeframe? They say we overestimate what can be achieved in twelve months but underestimate what we can achieve in three years.
I then come back to today and imagine the day unfolding in a way that will help me get to my desired future. This can be very simple, small steps such as enjoying a good conversation with a friend, making a brave call or researching a development course. I've found this visualisation process really inspiring and am sure it has changed my life for the better. This guided spoken meditation from Vishen Lakhiani can really help with this exercise.
Writing a letter from your future self to you today about the life you are living is another powerful way to explore your ideal future and help you to get there. Include in the letter some advice for today based on what your future self has learnt. And remember that all of these exercises are better if they relate to your whole life, not just your career.
Make a Purpose to Impact Plan
In this article by Harvard Business Review there is an exercise on creating a “Purpose to Impact Plan”. Similar to the free flowing visionary exploration above but more structured, it asks you to begin with a three year time frame, then works backwards to identify your goals in relation to your purpose for the next two year, one year, and next month. Once your goals are clearly listed for each timeframe, moving towards them can seem more realistic and less daunting.
Find your supporters
Once you have some thoughts about where you’d like to get to in the next few years, identify one or two key people in your life who can help you to make the best decisions in relation to your purpose and these dreams. They need to be people who you completely trust but who will also not be afraid to challenge you and put you in your stretch zone if it will help you to move towards your purpose.
Celebrate every win
As you gradually establish your vision and plans and start to work towards them, be very mindful of your decisions and the positive outcomes they can manifest. No matter how small the victory, take the time to consciously celebrate every single step and reward yourself. The more you appreciate the outcomes, the more confidence and inspiration you will take from them to make even more positive changes.
Plan your holidays
My next two points are adapted from Daniel Priestley’s “The Entrepreneur Revolution”. One of his suggested first steps to doing more meaningful work is to schedule all your holidays for the next twelve months and block this time out on a wall planner or in a diary. You might wonder how this could relate to living your purpose but taking time out is a vital way to get perspective, re-energize and formulate purposeful decisions. I use the term “holiday” in its broadest sense. It could mean family weekends away, a residential course, a spa trip with friends, time spent travelling or just a day out of the city.
When I take a bit of time out, I like to create a “mini audit” of the most important aspects in my life (family, friends, health, career, giving back, etc.) and look at where I’ve felt I’ve lived my purpose in relation to these areas, or what might be missing. This process guides me if I need to make any changes or tweaks to my daily life.
Make three phone calls
If you have the seed of an idea for a new venture or opportunity to help you live more purposefully, a simple next step is to think of three contacts who could help you to get the ball rolling and give them a call. This could be to get their advice or it could be a more practical discussion around the resources or costs of your idea.
Whoever you speak to, your discussion should be a catalyst in progressing this mini purposeful venture. For instance, I’m currently exploring the idea of creating video blogs in my quest to enable happier lives so my first phone call was to a friend who works in marketing, the next was a conversation with my husband about filming equipment and the third might be a chat with my coach, to get his advice as he has already made some videos.
Whatever you decide to do next, it is important to remember that your life will not become perfectly aligned with your purpose overnight. But even the simple act of having your purpose in the back of your mind as you go about your day will help inform your choices and set you on track to find more meaning and satisfaction in every area of your life. Good luck and if you feel like sharing your own ideas or experiences of living on-purpose with me please be my guest.