“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
You know your life purpose.
It’s usually right in front of your face. It’s embedded in your bones. You’ve known your life purpose your entire life.
You could be living out your life purpose without even knowing it. You could be in a job you hate and living your life purpose. You could be thinking you’re just living your regular life without realizing it’s your life purpose.
Your life purpose isn’t very far away from you. It’s in you. It has been with you. It has been part of your life.
The fact that you don’t think you know what your life purpose is doesn’t mean you’re not following it.
Society simply trains us to block our life purposes from our lives.
You are trained to do other things to fulfill society’s obligations and demands.
Society leads you to believe you can either follow your purpose OR earn a living.
I’m here to say you can do both. You can live your purpose while earning a living.
Can I even go so far as to say the more in alignment you are with your life purpose, the more abundance you’ll experience?
So, let’s start today with the 9 ways you’ll know your life purpose.
- Follow your values
Your values run your life. You may or may not realize this but a set of underlying code runs your whole life. It’s the software to our minds and bodies, yet we hardly pay attention to these values.
Values are probably the single biggest area I started focusing on when discovering my purpose.
For example, on my values list, which is right in front of my laptop, I have freedom, abundance, service, creativity and spirituality, among other things.
You will likely find me in these sections of the bookstore.
When you look around my bedroom, you will find these books, which are in alignment with my values.
When you look at my life purpose of coaching, writing and speaking to others, you will notice that I have the freedom to do all these things when I want to do them (freedom), this work is unique (creative), I like the impact I’m making on people (service) and getting positivity back (abundance) and this work contains a sense of sacredness (spirituality).
Values run your life but people never spend a minute on this — or they complete a values exercise that they never again return to.
Your life purpose must be in alignment with your values. If you get clear on your values, your life purpose will become clearer.
This is one of the most important exercises I help people with. It’s also one of the most helpful tools they’ve found for creating new lives for themselves.
2. Follow your vision.
Sometimes it’s hard to determine what you want when you’re in the thick of things and living in a world that doesn’t allow you to dream. However, I’ve found that visualizing opens you to a world of possibilities, allowing people to see beyond the here and now.
I’m not saying to live in the future but to look into the future and see what you find there.
Allow yourself to do creative visualization.
One of the best books on this topic is Creative Visualization by Shakti Gwain where she shows you step by step how to apply visualization to your life.
I suggest doing this technique when you’re in a very relaxed state. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll stay true to your vision on a daily basis.
You don’t see it as a fantasy or something impossible but a destination you’re trying to reach.
Instead of getting caught up in the mundaneness and impossibilities of today, allow visualization to help you let go of mental limitations and ideas about what’s possible.
3. Follow the omens.
Paulo Coelho, in the ultimate book about life purpose, The Alchemist, instructs you to follow the omens.
“In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.”
If omens fascinate you, as they do Oprah, check out this video clip about how to pay attention to the omens of the universe. Learn how Coelho starts paying attention to life.
For me, omens are clues. They are guides that the universe is regularly offering us. They make a big impact on us and often come across as coincidences, but only because we don’t pay attention to them.
For most of my life, people told me that I was a good writer and should do something with my writing.
When I was younger, I wrote books on my own and designed book covers.
In my 20’s, I wrote an entire novel just for fun.
I had been writing my entire life.
Not for a second did I think this was actually part of my life purpose even though I had a skill and passion for writing.
I never thought someone would pay me to do it.
In law school and law offices, I received praise for my written word.
Imagine having so many clues and still being completely oblivious to them.
It was my ex-wife, of all people, who picked up on the clues and, like a messenger from the universe, reminded me and encouraged me to pursue writing.
Messengers and universal omens may be revealing your life purpose to you. You may simply be ignoring them because you believe your life purpose is different from what it actually is.
It’s easy to overlook the obvious.
Your life purpose is in front of your face and has been giving you clues your entire life.
You just have to acknowledge it.
4. Follow your desires.
In addition to values work, the most impactful work I’ve done is the work of Danielle LaPorte.
The Fire Starter Sessions book changed my life.
LaPorte asked me things like, “What would your life be like if you did only what was easy?” and “How do you want to feel?”
That book hit me with so many truth bombs, it blew my life wide open and led me along an entirely new path.
“Knowing how you want to actually feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life,” she writes in The Fire Starter Sessions.
Her prescription is super simple and palm-slappingly easy.
“First, get clear on how you want to feel.
Then, do stuff that makes you feel that way.”
Wait — that sounds so simple!?!
We never think about how we want to feel when we achieve our life purposes or achieve our ideal lives.
We find out only when we get there…but what if we figured this out earlier?
This is exactly what Danielle LaPorte recommends with her work on desire maps.
She asks you to figure out how you want to feel when you achieve your life purpose or dream life. Then work backward from there.
Most of us do it backward and end up in situations we hate.
What do you want to experience on the daily? Spend a couple minutes thinking about the feelings you want to cultivate and live by.
Here is a list of desires you can choose from to help you get clearer here.
5. Follow your joy.
What sparks you up?
What are you doing that doesn’t feel like work when you’re at work?
Even in the jobs you’ve had, there were likely things you did that brought you joy. Maybe you’re doing these things now.
Similar to Marie Kondo’s questions about what sparks joy in your house, what sparks joy in your doing?
What activities, skills and parts of your job bring you joy?
Likely, a place or parts of your work make you feel like you’re coming alive. In these activities and skills are seeds of your purpose.
What brings you joy outside work?
What books are sitting around your home?
Which section of the bookstore or library do you spend most of your time in?
What do you relish doing?
Usually, people ignore the very things that bring them joy. The simply enjoy doing those things and don’t think twice about them.
Or they believe that joy comes from outside work altogether. You do joyless things at work and then do joyful things on vacation.
This is the way society trains you to think.
You can live on purpose and do work that brings you joy.
You can open your heart to joy and earn a living.
Oh…and you can do this no matter where you live.
No matter how much education you have.
No matter how old you are.
6. Follow your despair.
Follow your disappointments.
Follow your failures.
Follow what hasn’t worked.
Eliminate what isn’t your purpose.
Ok, elimination of various life purposes is the key to discovering your life purpose.
Knowing what you don’t want and what isn’t your life purpose is the key to helping you figure out what your life purpose is.
You do a lot of things you’re not keen on and never want to do again.
These things don’t bring you joy and or fulfillment.
You now know the 80 percent of things you don’t want to do.
Elimination will bring you closer to clarity on what your life purpose actually is.
7. Follow your strengths.
What do you regularly receive compliments about?
What are you particularly good at doing?
What skills do you have that you seem to do with ease?
For example, I’d say the answers to these questions in my own life are written communication, story-telling and listening.
In pursuit of my own life purpose, I’ve utilized all these skills to help me get where I’m going.
I’ve also used these skills as a lawyer and as a community organizer.
The skills you’ve received (and, yes, you do have them) will lead you to your purpose.
Look at your evaluation reports. Look at emails of appreciation. Look at the rewards you’ve received. Look at what people are asking you to help them with.
If you start paying attention to your life, both past and present, you’ll reflect upon all your skills and gifts.
Pay more attention to these. Acknowledge your talents and abilities.
Knowing your talents and skills will help you move closer to your purpose.
8. Follow your story.
Everyone has a life journey and a life story.
I’ve found that these life journeys contain the seeds of your life purpose.
You have many life journeys, including your career journey, your family journey, your relationship journey, your journey of becoming who you are and your journey as a parent or as a child.
In each of these journeys, you’ve overcome conflicts, challenges and obstacles.
In each portion of your life journey, you’ve made discoveries, uncovered insights and received wisdom.
Embedded in your life journeys are pearls of wisdom and carats of your life purposes.
These are the real clues to your life purpose.
Each person’s life journey contains powerful lessons and clear indications of that person’s life purposes.
Not only are your life journeys transformative and filled with life lessons, but they also have a strong message about what you’re supposed to be doing with your life.
Each life journey on its own might not make sense. However, if you take your life journeys in different aspects of your life and analyze them, you will see a common theme pointing towards one life journey.
In my relationship life journey, I have a theme of overcoming failure and trying again.
In my career life journey, I have a theme of helping others overcome hardship and start a new life.
In my family life journey, I have a theme of overcoming sadness and pain and moving forward to share these lessons to help others.
On its own, each of these life journeys doesn’t mean much. Yet together, there is a common theme pointing me towards my life purpose.
In your own story, you can find the themes that reflect on your life purpose.
9. Follow your spirit.
One of the “for sure” ways to know is to see how your current work resonates with your heart and spirit.
Even if you don’t know anything else or have trouble answering any of the questions I’ve asked, you do know one thing for certain.
You know yourself.
You know your intuition.
You know what you’ve known your whole life.
If you cut out all the voices in your head, if you stop listening to all the fears and socially conditioned talk running through your mind, you likely have a deep knowing about your purpose.
This innate inner knowing is available to you. However, to tap into it, you have to disengage from the outside world.
To know, you must be willing to listen, no matter how scary it is or how dramatically it might change your life.
The more you seek spiritual practices or get quiet in nature, the more likely you are to discover your life purpose.
If you’re uncertain about your life purpose, run what you believe is your life purpose against your intuition and see what your intuition says.
An inner knowing is available to you at all times. It lets you know whether you are getting closer to the thing you’re supposed to be doing with your life.
I want to leave you with some resources if you feel like you need more guidance.
For my book on getting out of your profession and finding your own way, check out One Way Ticket.