First, let's figure out what we mean when we say 'purpose.'
Here's what I believe.
I don't necessarily think that we all have '1 single purpose' in life. That one, glorious activity that lies at the ready, patiently waiting to be discovered.
Instead, I believe we have natural abilities and our own interests. So what most people call 'purpose' is simply the intersection between your abilities and your interests.
You have multiple abilities, right? And multiple interests? Sure.
This is why I don't believe we only have one purpose, but many. And they evolve as you mature.
Yes, your purpose will naturally shift and evolve over time, so be ok with that.
Now that we've laid that on the table, let's talk about figuring out at least one of your purposes, today.
Method 1: The Analytical Approach
If abilities + interests = purpose...let's figure out our natural abilities, first.
To do this, one question I've always liked is this...
'What do you seem to do so easily that others struggle with?'
The answers will start to reveal some natural abilities.
For instance, maybe you're bad at math, but for some reason you're unbelievable at picking up languages. It just clicks. Or maybe you just 'get' animals and how to train them. Or understanding computer code. Or cooking. I'm a bit envious if this is you, because I never 'got' cooking. But I digress.
Point is, we all have things we're just naturally good at for one reason or another. Can't think of any? One way to figure it out would be to start logging how you spend your day.
Set an alarm on your phone every hour. And when that alarm goes off, write down what you did the past 60 minutes.
Everything you can think of. Get detailed. Do that for a week, and you'll start to realize patterns. You'll also begin to recognize things that you didn't even know you were doing, mainly because they come so easy to you.
After identifying a few natural abilities, then start to write down your interests. Forget justifying them, just let them flow. Resist the urge to feel ashamed or judgmental about what you come up with. Allow what ever comes up to come up.
Now that you have some abilities and some interests, it's time to put them together. Do this on a paper in 2 columns, with abilities on the left and interests on the right. Draw lines between the two, connecting one ability with one interest. Repeat.
By combining your abilities with your interests, you're finding a purpose.
This is the analytical way.
Method 2: The Experimental Approach
As you've probably guessed, this means trying new things constantly.
The point of this is simple; Exposing yourself to new things such to see where you naturally gravitate.
A good example of this was when I was in high school and a group of buddies were heading up to Canada to fish.
At the time, I had never really fished before. Didn't really have an interest. But rather than immediately dismiss the idea, I decided to go with it.
When we got there, it was like something grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go. I was INSTANTLY attracted to the feel of working and living on the water. The feeling was clear as day. Unmistakable. Powerful. Loud.
That feeling surprised me. And deep down, I knew THIS was what I was going to do for the next period of my life. I didn't know how, I didn't know what. But I knew why.
Because for some weird reason I loved it.
And truth be told, I couldn't explain that love. It was just there.
So I encourage you to try new things constantly. See where you naturally gravitate, then act upon it.
Method 3: Remove The Idea Of Money
Fear not. This isn't one of those "Hey forget money, it won't make you happy" kind of suggestions.
No, not at all.
But when I feel stuck in life, I usually find I'm doing things for the wrong reasons.
So what I want you to do for a minute or two is FORGET that you have to make money.
Imagine you have 500 million in the bank. You never have to work, ever.
Pretend you're a kid again. Back then, you did things for happiness, not money. So try and put yourself back into that head space.
What would you do with your day if money wasn't an issue?
You may say, "Well Josh I'd just relax all day. Do nothing."
Maybe. But I promise you'll get bored in a week.
You ever had a job that on the surface looked great because you didn't have to work hard? It was great until you realized the day went soooo slooow. You actually enjoyed working because it made the day go by faster.
Well, I think a lot of us honestly wouldn't know what to do with any free time. At least at first.
So we default to saying we'd do 'nothing.'
But after a week or two of the Netflix and video games and sleeping in, you're going to get bored.
It's this point when you start tapping back into the ideas and activities that truly bring you joy.
The things that you really like spending time on.
For most people, these activities have been buried beneath layers of 'logic' and 'practicality' and 'fear.' It's time to dig them up, dust them off, and ride the crap out of them.
Once you start to identify these activities, ask yourself...
How are people making money doing this thing today?
Because, of course, you don't have 500 million in the bank and actually DO have to make a living.
But you might as well make that money with something that interests you.
Some Closing Thoughts...
In general, I would suggest you pursue the purpose you find in small steps.
Because small steps don't require you to procrastinate until the 'right time.'
Don't wait, don't hesitate. Don't pause until the stars align. What can you do by the end of the day that would get you closer to your goal or dream?
Another great reason for finding your purpose in small steps is because I've always found it useful to monitor myself going through these initial stages. "Am I still interested? More so? Less so?"
Use these questions as an indicator to keep going.
Finally, turn on the blinders.
Theres about a 100% chance you'll be confused and frustrated with yourself when you're constantly seeing other people 'living their best life.' Most of it is a lie.
People are very unhappy inside.
And when you find you're comparing yourself, wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap yourself.
Focus on how that short jolting sting brings you right back to reality, right back to yourself.
Do this, and I promise...PROMISE...you'll be well on your way to fuller life of purpose.
To life, amigos.