Knowing what you drives you and moving toward that will help you live longer.
In my high school years, I used to tell Vic, my boss and the manager of the local video store at which I worked, “I have a burning desire to succeed.” At the time, I had a very limited definition of success and he was blown away that a 15 year old was talking about a burning desire to do anything. Thankfully, it opened a discussion for the both of us. He has since passed on, but he became a great mentor for me and I still remember our discussions about life, it’s meaning, and who really cares anyway.
Thankfully, after many bumps and bruises in life, it turns out I really care. And I have a family who cares and friends who care too. When you’re young it’s hard to know what your purpose is. I believe it’s something that comes with time. I didn’t begin my current career until I was 30 years young and at that time I never thought I would take the path I did. Sometimes your purpose changes and that has to be okay.
Today, I am successful. I am thoroughly, 100% successful, to me. And that’s what matters most. We each have our own definition of success and thus our own individual purpose. You must find yours. For me, it’s pretty simple. I want to live a happy, healthy, fit life and share that joy with as many people as possible. That’s pretty much it. The great thing is that creates a very large umbrella for me to do a lot in this lifetime.
I’ve been immersed in a lot of longevity research lately and came across a study published in Psychological Science, an industry journal. There were over 6,000 people followed for 14 years. About 9% of the people had died during that time and when the records were looked at, the 9% all said they didn’t feel like they had a purpose in life. Purpose is also very prevalent in Dan Buettner’s Blue Zone Solution and many other sources. Finding your purpose helps to increase longevity.
My 5 things to help you find your purpose are:
Make sure you do what you love. What does that mean? It means that you should do things you enjoy doing. What do you think about doing on a regular basis? What are you drawn to? I love to exercise, I love to do yoga, I love to spend time with my family, I love to write and create. I love to help others. My list goes on and on. Find your list and it can start small. It will grow, trust me!
Do something that helps people. There are so many theories about giving, but there is definitely truth behind the fact that helping others allows you to get out of your own head. When you get into action and serve others, you will benefit yourself even more. The act of giving selflessly, without expecting anything in return, is always the greatest gift.
Create something. Finding your purpose can be a life long quest, but the sooner you find our what that is for you, the sooner you can begin creating within the guidelines of your purpose. For instance, if you feel like your purpose is to write and you love writing so much that you could do it until the cows come home, well get to it. Start creating. Figure out what kind of writing you love. What subjects do you love to write about. Is it fiction or non-fiction. Journalism or becoming a novelist. Just because you found a task, doesn’t necessarily mean you found your purpose. Sometimes, however, through the creating process, you begin to learn more what you’re driven by.
Lead by example. I very much believe in walking the walk and not just talking the talk. There are a lot of great talkers around, but not many walkers. If you’re having trouble finding your purpose, start doing those things recommended and
Lighten up. Some times we take all these things way too seriously. WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?! Just thinking about that can give someone heart palpitations. It doesn’t matter that much. Let it resonate with you. Take your time, you’ll find a rhythm if you follow the steps above. Slowly, but surely, your unique purpose will reveal itself.
And of course, I’m here if you need some help along the way. @teddymcdonald
Photo Credit: flickr.com/BMclvr
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