5 ways to find your life’s purpose

No self-help books required
Feb 13, 2019 · Gabrielle Sorto
Portrait of smiling older woman

Identifying your life’s purpose and living it out every day is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. In fact, having a sense of purpose has a number of health benefits, according to a 2017 study published in JAMA Psychiatry. People with purpose sleep better, live longer, and suffer fewer strokes and heart attacks. They are also more likely to attend wellness checkups and embrace preventive health services, which are critical to staying healthy.

By listening to your internal GPS, also known as your intuition or that little voice whispering to you all day, you can create a purpose that drives you, helps others, and keeps you healthy. Here are simple steps you can take to find your life’s purpose:

  1. Explore the things you love. A simple way to begin to explore your personal mission is to simply do more of what you love. Find things you love doing – whether it’s writing, painting, playing a sport or a musical instrument, cooking, or anything else – and explore where your skills overlap with the things you love. The more you do this, the more clarity you will gain.

  2. Listen to your intuition. People often say to listen to your gut, which is essentially saying to listen to your intuition. Your intuition is that quiet voice inside you that gives you warning signs in a negative situation or a flashing green light when you’re on the right path. By tuning in to your intuition, you can allow it to guide you through your journey to finding purpose. “Some people are born with a strong intuition and know how to listen to it from an early age whereas others develop their intuition or tune into it as they grow a stronger sense of self confidence,” says licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz.

    “The more that you love and trust yourself, the more in touch you become with your intuition,” Schewitz continues. Sometimes our intuition can manifest physically. If you feel a tightness in your chest or stomach, it may be a sign something isn’t right. On the other hand, if you feel happy and relaxed for seemingly no reason, it may mean you are trusting your intuition and are on the right path.

  3. Ask yourself who you want to help. Most people want to feel as though they are contributing and making the world a better place in some way. While we are not all Superman (or Wonder Woman) and can’t save the world on our own, we can find small ways to make the world a better place in our own way. Ask yourself who it is you want to help. Do you want to help children? Animals? Immigrants? Think about how your skills and what you love can help others. “For example, most physicians go into medicine because they want to help people be healthier,” psychologist Stephanie Hooker, PhD, MPH, of the University of Minnesota says. “But then they get caught up in, ‘I’ve got to see 20 patients today, and I’ve got to write these notes, and there’s all the politics going on in the department.’ Everything else distracts them from why they went into medicine in the first place.” Find an organization that is working toward a mission you care about and reach out about getting involved.

  4. Spend time alone. Other people can have an impact on what we do, and it can be hard to focus on our own goals with others’ opinions in our ear. Time with yourself can help you to know yourself better and fine-tune your intuition. “While we are social creatures, our relationship to self is foundational to all other relationships, including that with the natural world, and a solid relationship to self is grounded in solitude – the capacity to be alone,” says Arnie Kozak, PhD, a psychotherapist and clinical assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

  5. Give up the idea you have only one purpose. Many people get bogged down by the idea that they need to find the one thing that gives their life meaning, but that can be misguided. A full life is filled with many different things that give you purpose, and these can change throughout your lifetime. The truth is, happiness – and purpose – are not destinations, they’re journeys. If you accept the notion that you – like all of us – have purpose each and every day, whether you’re aware of it or not, finding your purpose may feel a little easier

It can be tricky to navigate and learn to truly listen to your inner guidance, but once you do, you will find that life gets infinitely better and easier. Using these steps, you’ll be well on your way to tapping into your inner GPS and leading a happier, healthier life.

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