Do You Have A Strong Sense Of Purpose? Here's How To Know & Build It
The more centered you are in your sense of purpose, the more you will become your own anchor during intense times.
Knowing your purpose is freeing—and finding it can be similar to decluttering your home. Like a good home cleaning session, getting clear on your purpose will leave you with the things that you truly value and that bring you great joy. It will allow you to focus on the direction that is most important to you and lead to higher levels of health, success, and happiness.
Here is a primer on how to strengthen your sense of purpose for the year ahead and beyond.
Are you clear on your sense of purpose?
Like a bright star in the sky, some people think of their sense of purpose as their North Star, which guides them toward a meaningful and satisfying life. But how do you know if you have a strong vision, mission, or North Star? Here are seven questions to ask yourself:
- Tune in: Am I using my talents and strengths for a cause that is larger than myself and leads to a better world?
- Flow: Do I frequently feel "in the flow" when I am following my sense of purpose? Do things seem to fall together easily for me?
- Look from 20,000 feet: Do I realize that things are not always about me but that I fit into a larger landscape?
- Getting out of sync: Am I able to notice when I stray from my sense of purpose? What happens at a body level, a mind level, and a spirit level?
- Feedback: What would my friends and family say if I asked them about my sense of purpose? Would they think that my vision is clear and my mission is strong and consistent?
- Happiness: Does my life bring significant periods of deep happiness?
- Health: How is my health? Does it reflect a body that works well? If it is not functioning smoothly, am I listening to what my body is trying to tell me and taking actions accordingly?
As you ponder the answers to these questions, notice if any images pop into your mind's eye or any songs start playing in your head. Take note of all you are seeing, hearing, and sensing in the quiet moments when you lean into these questions. It might be useful to keep a journal of your inner sojourns and review them as you build or recreate your purpose.
How to build your sense of purpose:
Recruit a friend to help.
- Ask a partner for 30 minutes of their time to help you with an exercise. Their role is to repeatedly ask you the following question: What is your life purpose?
- Each time they ask, write down whatever comes up for you. Don't censor your answers. Let ideas flow.
- After you have been asked about 20 to 25 times, look at your comments and see what you have learned. (You can ask yourself the question, but having someone else ask usually allows for deeper exploration.)
Write a short sentence, and go from there.
If you already have a basic idea about your purpose, think of a short sentence that describes your vision. An example might be something like "My purpose is to help people or bring in a new world." Then, break the goal down.
Consider how you will accomplish this larger mission. You might think of actions like volunteering with a local organization, becoming a teacher, working to invent new kinds of passive energy, or starting a business that empowers and respects its employees. Put this vision and mission somewhere you can see it often, and jot down notes as new thoughts and ideas come to you.
Notice what brings you joy and happiness.
What are you passionate about? What gives you energy? What brings a smile to your face? What helps you get up in the morning to start your day? How could you have more of that in your life? When you increase what you love to do, how does that affect your spirit, work, relationships, pleasure, and feelings of wholeness? Asking yourself these types of questions often can help you live a more purpose-driven life.
Stay open to new inspiration.
Some people find that looking at insightful readings or being with others in spiritual or religious settings helps them solidify their purpose. Praying or setting intentions to build a stronger sense of purpose may be helpful too. Finally, connecting with people who are aligned with their purpose can also strengthen your vision and mission.
Along your journey, be open to the fact that your purpose may become more defined, and how you accomplish your purpose might change. As I've seen through my Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy program, our purpose may shift as we get older, too. For example, when you're young, your purpose may be geared toward building skills, vision, and direction. In midlife, you may be more focused on career, family, property, recreation, and spiritual practice. Sage years follow with the more introspective inner work of life review and repair, forgiveness, facing mortality, and creating a legacy.
Bringing it all together.
Connecting with your purpose is a lifelong practice. Continue to spend time listening deeply to your inner self and gaining insight from events in your life that can give you clues about when you are aligned with your purpose and when you have become lost from what is important to you. Getting feedback from others and various doctrines can be helpful, and when it matches what you feel deep within, you will know you have found your North Star, vision, or mission. Aligning with your clear purpose allows energy to flow in new ways and can take you to places beyond what you can currently imagine.
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Linda Bark, Ph.D., R.N. is founder and CEO of the Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy. She has trained almost 1000 coaches internationally in such organizations as Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, AWARE Recovery Care as well as KPMG and WeljiI in India. Her model helps build a new world that has more kindness and justice, increased healing for the planet, more wholeness, and deeper knowledge that we are all connected.
Linda has two nursing degrees, a master's in life transition counseling, and a Ph.D. in philosophy and religion. Dr. Bark received first place for professional development for her textbook The Wisdom of the Whole: Coaching for Joy, Health, and Success. She has been very instrumental in coach certification for Nurse Coaches through the American Holistic Nursing Credentialing Corporation as well as Health and Wellness Coaches through the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching.
The efficacy of the coaching model she created has been demonstrated in several peer-reviewed articles. In the past, Linda pioneered new professional pathways in health integration. She started a holistic nursing private practice in psychotherapy in 1970 and brought holistic nursing to hospitals in the 80s. During the 90s, she led medical tours to China for New Dimensions Radio, CIIS, and her own company. To better understand Chinese Traditional Medicine, she lived and studied in China and discovered how to help others combine Western and Eastern approaches. For seven years she helped conceptualize, plan, and build holistic healing centers nationally such as Wege Center in Minnesota and Swedish American Healthcare System in Illinois. Her healing center work is part of her current practice.
She currenly lives at Earthaven in Black Mountain NC, one of the oldest ecovillages in the US.