How to find your purpose in life and give your life more meaning is a question we could all benefit from exploring further.
Do you ever feel like something’s missing in your life? Here’s a secret—that feeling is actually quite common, and it often boils down to a sense that your days lack meaning. The search for meaning is pretty important, it’s basically one of the best self-care practices there is. Yes, it seems like a mammoth task, but studies have even found those who find purpose in their lives are on average happier, sleep better and live longer.
The Japanese concept of ikigai—which means ‘a reason for being’—can be a useful starting point to think about finding your life’s purpose. According to the theory, your ikigai is the sweet spot between what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and—fantasy alert—what you can get paid for. It sounds perfect, right?
Sadly, few of us can find our ultimate purpose in our 9-to-5 job, nor would we necessarily want to (as much as it would be nice to earn sweet cash for living out all our hopes and dreams). Instead, most of us accept that our purpose in life doesn’t have to be just one thing – it can come from multiple sources. We would likely be dissatisfied if we focused solely on our jobs or our hobbies or even on our families, partners and friends. Often, our meaning comes from a mixture of all of the above.
But how to find it? Here are some useful starting points:
Keep a journal
Writing a journal is a valuable tool to reflect on what you want from your life, as well as keeping you accountable to your goals.
Your daily reflections are a window into your psyche. Look for patterns in your journal entries. What makes you happy on a regular basis? Who and what inspires you? Try it, you’ll be surprised by the added sense of order and meaning it inspires in your life.
Use your talents
No one likes to feel like their talent is being wasted. If you’ve got a passion or skill that you’re neglecting, think about ways you could fire it up again in your daily life.
For instance, if you have a flair for baking, channel that by whipping up weekly treats for your housemates or hosting a regular bake-off with friends on Zoom.
Alternatively, if you’re business-minded, ignite your passion by starting an entrepreneurial side hustle outside your day job, like a cake-making business for your neighbors. Who knows, maybe one day you could turn it into a full-time gig!
Many of us worry that we lack a central passion to give purpose to our lives. But, in order to change that, it’s important to show curiosity, to take an interest in the outside world which might ultimately ignite your passion. Even if it takes you a while to discover your ultimate ‘why’, curiosity is associated with greater life satisfaction.
We’re social beings, and typically we like to feel that we are contributing to our wider communities. Giving to charity, volunteering or mentoring—anything that helps us feel we’re sharing our skills and resources with others—can fill us with a sense of purpose.
Pursue a hobby
OK, it’s likely you struggle to find purpose in some—or perhaps all—elements of your job. But exploring a passion outside work can be a great counterbalance, and can help you bring a whole lot more fun and meaning to your regular routine.
Perhaps this involves getting back into something you’ve loved since childhood, such as drawing illustrations, or starting something entirely new—learning Italian perhaps?
Find your flow
Ever get so absorbed in a task that you look up and think you don’t know where the time’s gone and come away feeling energized? That’s flow. Flow, a concept masterminded by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a great way to think about finding purpose in the activities you do—inside and outside work. Doing more of whatever gives you ‘flow’ can help you feel a sense of meaning in your life.
Have meaningful relationships
While the hard work of finding your individual meaning is down to you, it has been observed that having close relationships in our life can help us to learn, grow and discover that all-important purpose. This isn’t about co-dependency (i.e. relying on someone else for all your needs) but instead creating a mutually supportive dynamic in which you encourage, listen to and champion one another.
Shows like Bling Empire: what to watch if you loved the Netflix hit
In search of binge-worthy shows like Bling Empire? We can help!
By Sagal Mohammed •
Best dumbbells for women: the effective accessory for toning up at home
This batch of the best dumbbells for women will suit all fitness goals and financial budgets
By Miranda Larbi •
Crystals for beginners: your complete guide
Get set for 2021 Get your rocks off the holistic way with our crystals for beginners guide
By Fiona Embleton •
Can you actually pack full-sized sunscreen in your carry-on when you fly?
Bye-bye, travel-sized sunscreen?! It seems too good to be true
By Naomi Jamieson •
Study reveals young people are scrolling social media before bed to avoid emotions
Scrolling social media before bed not only makes it harder to sleep, but can also negatively affect your mental health
By Naomi Jamieson •
I just got the COVID vaccine passport—here's what that means
What can you do—and where can you go—with a vaccine passport? Everything we know so far
By Christina Izzo •
Why REM sleep is important: the benefits of deep snoozing
From memory to stress relief, there are many reasons why REM sleep is important for your overall health
By My Imperfect Life •
Calm app review: Is the Calm app worth the money?
The Calm app is one of the most downloaded apps for meditation, but is it actually any good? We investigate
By Lauren Clark •
Is the pandemic aging your brain?
Five ways to future-proof your brain against the impact of COVID-19
By Amerley Ollennu •
This bath soak sold five months’ worth of stock in just one week
If you’re struggling with sleep, you may need this bath soak
By Naomi Jamieson •