“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs
As a mentor and high-performance coach at Microsoft for over 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with countless individuals who were struggling to find their purpose in life.
Whether they were just starting their careers, mid-career professionals, or nearing retirement, many of them felt unfulfilled, lost, or uncertain about their path forward.
Through my coaching, I’ve helped these individuals discover their passions, values, and strengths, and use them to create a sense of purpose and direction in their lives.
In this article, I will share some of the key insights and strategies that I’ve learned over the years for finding your purpose, even if you’re a people pleaser who struggles to prioritize your own needs and wants.
Whether you’re just starting your career or looking to make a change, these tips can help you gain clarity and confidence as you pursue a more fulfilling and purposeful life.
How to Find Your Purpose as a People Pleaser
If you’re a people pleaser or giver, it can be challenging to find your purpose because you may be more focused on helping others than on your own needs and aspirations. However, there are a few steps you can take to help identify your purpose:
- Practice self-reflection: Take some time to reflect on what makes you happy, what you’re good at, and what you value most in life. Think about the activities that bring you the most fulfillment and consider how you can incorporate them into your life more often.
- Identify your strengths: Make a list of your skills and talents, and think about how you can use them to make a positive impact in the world. Consider the ways in which you can apply your strengths to help others, while still feeling fulfilled and challenged.
- Seek inspiration: Look for role models and sources of inspiration that resonate with your values and interests. Read books, watch videos, or attend events that align with your passions and goals, and see if they can provide insight into your purpose.
- Take action: Once you have a sense of your purpose, start taking small steps towards it. Volunteer, take a class, or start a side project that aligns with your interests and values. By taking action, you’ll gain clarity and confidence in pursuing your purpose.
Remember that finding your purpose is an ongoing process, and it’s okay to make mistakes and pivot along the way. By staying true to yourself and following your passions, you can discover a sense of purpose that feels authentic and fulfilling.
What is the Difference Between Purpose and What You Do?
Purpose and what you do are related concepts, but they are not the same thing. Your purpose is the underlying reason for why you do what you do, while what you do refers to the specific actions or tasks that you perform.
Your purpose is the deeper meaning or mission behind your actions. It’s the reason why you get up in the morning and what gives your life meaning and direction. Your purpose may be related to your values, passions, or goals, and it often provides a sense of fulfillment and motivation.
What you do, on the other hand, refers to the specific activities or tasks that you engage in on a daily basis. It may include your job, hobbies, or other activities that you enjoy or find meaningful. What you do is a manifestation of your purpose, but it’s not the same thing as your purpose.
For example, if your purpose is to help others, you may manifest that purpose through a variety of actions, such as volunteering, working in a helping profession, or simply being kind to others in your daily life. What you do may change over time, but your purpose remains constant and guides your actions and decisions.
In short, your purpose is the why behind what you do, while what you do is the how. By aligning your actions with your purpose, you can find greater fulfillment and meaning in your life.
7 Questions for Reflection to Find and Evolve Your Purpose
Here are 7 questions to ask yourself and reflect on to help you find your purpose, especially if you’re challenged as a people pleaser and don’t know yourself well:
- What are your values? What do you stand for, and what principles guide your decisions and actions? Identifying your values can help you understand what’s truly important to you and what you want to prioritize in your life.
- What brings you joy? Think about the activities or experiences that bring you the most joy and fulfillment. What is it about those experiences that make you feel happy and satisfied?
- What are your natural talents and strengths? Reflect on the things that come naturally to you and the areas where you excel. How can you leverage those strengths to make a positive impact in the world?
- What are your passions? What are the topics or issues that you feel most passionate about? How can you use that passion to create positive change and make a difference in the world?
- What are your goals? What do you want to achieve in your life, both personally and professionally? Setting goals can help you focus your energy and efforts towards a specific direction and give you a sense of purpose and direction.
- What kind of impact do you want to make in the world? Reflect on the kind of legacy you want to leave behind and the impact you want to have on the people and communities around you.
- What kind of person do you want to be? Think about the qualities and characteristics that you admire in others and aspire to embody. How can you cultivate those qualities in yourself and use them to live a more purposeful and fulfilling life?
By reflecting on these questions and exploring your own values, passions, and strengths, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and find greater clarity and direction in pursuing your purpose.
Examples of Purpose
These are just some examples to help you inspire and find your purpose:
- Helping others: If you have a strong desire to help others, you may find purpose in a career or volunteer work that allows you to make a positive impact on people’s lives, such as healthcare, education, or social services.
- Creativity: If you have a passion for creative expression, you may find purpose in a career or hobby that allows you to use your artistic talents, such as writing, painting, or music.
- Entrepreneurship: If you have a desire to build something from the ground up and take risks, you may find purpose in starting your own business or pursuing a career in entrepreneurship.
- Advocacy: If you have a passion for social justice and fighting for what you believe in, you may find purpose in advocacy work, such as working for a non-profit organization or lobbying for change.
- Personal growth: If you have a desire to continually learn and grow as a person, you may find purpose in pursuing personal development, such as coaching, counseling, or spiritual practices.
Remember, everyone’s purpose is unique, and it’s essential to identify what matters most to you based on your values, passions, and strengths. Whatever path you choose, pursuing a purpose that aligns with your authentic self can bring a sense of fulfillment and meaning to your life.
Examples of Things that are Not Purposes
Here are some examples of things that are not purposes but often get confused with purpose:
- Money and material possessions: While having financial stability is important, making money or acquiring material possessions is not a purpose in itself.
- External validation and recognition: Seeking validation and recognition from others is not a purpose but a form of external validation that can lead to a lack of fulfillment and purpose.
- Status and power: Pursuing status and power is not a purpose, but a means to an end that may not necessarily lead to personal fulfillment or meaning.
- Social conformity: Conforming to societal norms and expectations is not a purpose but can lead to a lack of authenticity and a sense of disconnection from one’s true self.
- Hedonistic pleasure: Seeking pleasure or instant gratification is not a purpose, but a temporary distraction from the deeper search for meaning and fulfillment.
Anything that is superficial, temporary, or externally driven is not a true purpose but may be mistaken as such. It’s important to differentiate between what brings us true fulfillment and what provides temporary satisfaction.
A true purpose should align with your values, passions, and strengths and provide a sense of meaning and fulfillment that goes beyond temporary satisfaction.
Finding Your Purpose is a Journey of Self-Awareness and Joy
Finding your purpose as a people pleaser can be a challenging and often emotional journey.
However, by taking the time to reflect on your values, passions, and priorities, you can begin to identify what truly matters to you and what brings you a sense of fulfillment and meaning.
It’s essential to remember that your purpose is unique to you and that it may change over time as you grow and evolve as a person.
By learning to set healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, and prioritizing your own needs and wants, you can begin to live a more fulfilling and authentic life that aligns with your purpose.
As you embark on this journey, remember to be patient, compassionate, and kind to yourself, and to celebrate your progress along the way.
With perseverance and a willingness to explore new possibilities, you can find your purpose and live a life that brings you joy and satisfaction.
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