“Each man has only one genuine vocation-to find the way to himself…His task is to discover his own destiny-not an arbitrary one-and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else is only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one’s inwardness”.
Finding the way to ourselves and our true purpose seems to be the answer to the inner confusion we often experience as human beings.” Discover your destiny”, “find yourself”, “know thyself” are some of the actions we are advised to take in order to feel fulfilled and enable personal development. I have always acknowledged the beauty of this advice. But at the same time, I used to wonder about the following two things: a) Why do we need to know our purpose to feel fulfilled? Can’t life be fulfilling anyway since it is a constant experiencing of precious moments? Can’t we just go with the flow and live in the here and now? B) Why so much attention has been paid on the importance of knowing ourselves but too little on the actual ways to achieve that? Is it so hard to know yourself? Are any obstacles in realizing a personal calling?
I have now found some answers. However, the answers may be different for each of you, since there is no single way to see life purpose. Victor Frankl, the father of logotherapy, a form of existential psychotherapy, has famously said “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” His words aimed at stressing the importance of having a personal meaning in managing to cope with adversity. A Holocaust survivor himself, his experiences in the concentration camp led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most painful ones, as an aid to continue living and trying.
Having a meaning, a purpose or a calling is a motivational force to continue through difficulties and despite difficulties. Having a purpose means you are a creator. As a creator, you can experience life’s precious moments and enjoy the here and now but at the same time, a creator is an active participator in the process of life which can be a truly rewarding life stance.
In some way or another, we are all creators. When you become a parent, you create life. When you help someone in the street, you create gratitude. You can create a multitude of things; you can find purpose in multiple ways.
How can we discover what is our purpose?
Well, there is no single way. Some people manage to recognise their calling early, some others require more time. Sometimes what stops us is that we are primarily thinking in terms of what we cannot do rather what we can. We may focus on the difficulty in doing something and the possible obstacles that will appear in our way rather than what we truly want. For that reason, the first question to ask yourself is:
1. If there were no limits and you knew that you could only succeed, what would you be, what would you do, what would you have?
It is important to think as if there are no boundaries or limits. In that way, your mind will be free from the constant restrictions that disable its creativity and its ability to dream big.
Next, consider the following questions:
2. What do you like to do less? What makes you tired or bored?
3. What makes you smile?
4. Imagine being 8 years old and looking forward to your future with the imagination, optimism and confidence of a child. What dreams do you want to accomplish? How do you imagine your life?
5. Now imagine that you’re 80 years old and that you look at your past with the wisdom and knowledge of a wise sage. What are you proud of? What do you regret that you did or didn’t do? Which one of your actions would you change and which not?
6. Imagine that the people you most love and respect, are talking about you. What positive things would you like them to say about you, your contributions, and your achievements?
7. Think about your talents, your values, your passions. How would you use them to help or contribute to the people around you and to the world?
Good luck with finding your purpose. Remember not to set fake restrictions on yourself and to enjoy the process of self-discovery as you would enjoy a beautiful journey to an amazing destination.