Purpose. Meaning. Significance. Most of our lives will be consumed with the pursuit of these three things. Some people are constantly aware of their desire for these things while others seem unaware or uninterested. Nevertheless, there is a deep need and longing within every human being to understand the story in which they find themselves in.
But the pursuit of purpose can be a daunting task. It isn’t limited to serving food at a homeless shelter or even your (next thrill sequence). It is much more elusive and subjective at times. Our anxiety over purpose, meaning, and significance can come in quick moments of pause or during long periods of reflection.
Sometimes you wonder:
- Is this as good as it gets?
- Is this the best job I’ll ever have?
- Why can’t I have clarity about my future?
- What is something that only I can offer the world?
All of these questions are normal and part of the human experience. They are also indicative of our search and longing for purpose, meaning, and significance. If you are asking these questions, good for you. If you’re not, you will.
Let me tell you a secret.
No matter what anyone tells you, the pursuit of purpose can’t be reduced to a simple formula. Sorry. If it were that simple, everyone would know what their purpose is and would be confident their life was in alignment with it. But such is not the case. And be weary of anyone who might tell you otherwise.
While there isn’t a simple formula to find your purpose, (there are disciplines) and habits you can put into your life that will give you space to discover purpose and meaning in your life. Let me share a few of them with you.
Habit: Stay curious about the world around you.
The most successful people in the world approach life with a “fresh” set of eyes. Don’t accept life at face value. Ask questions. Think about a situation from multiple perspectives. This will ensure you don’t get in a rut. It is no mistake that Jesus told us to be like children when we think about life and spiritual things. Children are born curious and start exploring the world around them almost immediately. We need to keep that same type of “beginner’s mind” as we move through all the stages of life.
Habit: Expose yourself to new ideas, experiences, and people.
You’ll never grow if you only surround yourself with ideas that you agree with. It doesn’t mean everything or everyone has to be right. (It also means you’re not always right.) What makes life interesting is that we all see things differently. So pick up a book from an author you know you don’t agree with. Listen to a style of music you don’t listen to often. Spend time with people who are different from you. This may expose you to an idea or opportunity that sparks a sense of purpose or meaning in your life that you wouldn’t have necessarily discovered on your own.
Habit: Try something new every day.
Take a different way home. Try a new coffee drink at your favorite coffee shop. Let your waiter decide your dinner selection. Creating a discipline about trying new things keeps life interesting and will prevent you from getting stuck. You won’t always like it, but that’s OK.
Habit: Attempt great things even if you risk failure.
If you’re not doing things you could fail at, then you’re not trying hard enough. You’ll never grow if you never stretch yourself beyond what you think is possible. If you think about the times in your life where you experienced the biggest leaps forward, it was when you attempted something you didn’t think was possible. And failure is rarely fatal; it is almost always a step toward your next success.
Habit: Develop the discipline of reflection.
Start a journal. Record voice notes. Archive your thoughts with your favorite smartphone, tablet, or desktop app. There is no right way to do this, but make it a habit to think critically about what you wanted to happen, what happened, and what you can learn from it. It will also ensure you maintain alignment between your desires, intentions, and activities.
The pursuit of purpose is not a secret to be unlocked; it is, rather, a posture by which we approach life.
You know the people in your life who are truly alive inside. They tell the best stories and have wisdom that is often beyond their years. More important, they have a peace and happiness that oozes out of them.
When you put the habits in place necessary to matter the pursuit of purpose, meaning, and significance, you ensure you aren’t wasting precious time living through someone else’s’ expectations or by someone else’s’ limitations. God created you, and that means you are unique. The world needs you to be the best you because there is no else like you (and never will be). You are already amazing; you just don’t know how amazing you are. But you will if you are relentless and fearless in every area of your life.
Next Step: Reflect on the habits above. Which ones are already present in your life? Which ones do you need to add? What will you do differently today?