If you're having this feeling, it can be both inspiring and overwhelming. When it came up for me, it felt like a beacon of light and an unattainable goal at the same time. I had just recovered from eight months of illness after brief kidney failure that nearly killed me.
Critically aware that life is a gift, I wanted to make mine count and feel like my 15-hour days were fulfilling. My next step had to be more meaningful.
The trouble was, I had no idea what that was.
Sixteen months later, I launched a business that is much more suited to who I am, offering a much needed service to my community. How did I do it? By focusing on myself first.
It's impossible to force a question about what is meaningful. Putting pressure on yourself to come up with the answer is a surefire way to get stuck.
Purpose finds you. Sometimes it comes when you're unpacking the laundry or walking down the street looking up at the leaves. Often it shows up everywhere in your life until it surrounds you and the path is clear.
To hear what you truly want long-term, not just short-term fixes that are more reactionary than visionary, it's important to go slowly. This may seem indirect but in the long run it will save you time and painful missteps.
Here is the process I took:
1. Focus on what brings you joy.
What do you really enjoy, so much that you forget the time? Do you spend hours helping your teams, organizing your home, or cooking? Whatever it is, it's probably meaningful to you. Be open to what ever these activities are, even if you think you can’t make a living with them. Once you figure out what gives you meaning, there are many ways to build it into your life. Do more of them to hone in on which part is most meaningful to you.
2. Cut the drag.
Minimize activities that drain you and address what isn’t working. Common issues are health, lack of sleep, high stress, or relationship challenges. These can create a negative or reactionary perspective that distracts you and keeps you stuck.
3. Own your strengths and limitations.
No one is great at everything. Self knowledge and acceptance are key. Focus on your gifts, stop beating yourself up for your weaknesses and outsource them.
For example, I am great sensing what people need and providing inspirational, creative problem solving. I do not enjoy aggressive politics, project management or operations. This means that coaching is a much better fit than selling consumer products.
4. Look for themes.
If you are looking at several meaningful areas and can’t decide which one to focus on, look for themes in your life to evaluate how strong of a fit each direction is.
Where do you spend your time and money? This is likely what you value. What do people consistently say you're really good at?
5. Get involved.
Volunteer, join a club, or take a class. This is a low risk way to build experience and determine whether it is truly the fit you thought it would be. You may make some great connections in the process.
Spend a few months exploring these with no expectations. This will give you deeper insight into what is meaningful to you.
If you want personal support to find the right fit for you then hit me up for coaching below.