This is a question that I was recently asked by a reader:

How can I find my true purpose in life?

This is a question that I think most of us what to know the answer to.

We want to know why we’re here, what we should do with our lives, what our true purpose is.

It’s also a question that most of us struggle to answer.

I think there’s a very simple reason for why we struggle to answer that question.

The question is too hard, too big, too overwhelming.

It also makes it sound like you only have one possible purpose in life.

And there’s no way to ever know if you’ve found it or not.

So how might things change if you didn’t have only one true purpose?

And instead you had multiple possible purposes and you only had to find (and live) one of them?

Wouldn’t that be a LOT easier???

What if, instead of asking “How can I find my true purpose in life?” you asked “How can I find A purposeful path to pursue for the next 5-10 years that fills me with joy AND makes the world a better place?”.

So let’s tackle that question instead.

Because I think that’s  question that we can actually answer.

How can I find A purposeful path to pursue for the next 5-10 years that fills me with joy AND makes the world a better place?

To answer that question, I would start here:

Start with an issue or cause that you care about.

In other words, answer this question:

What is an issue or a cause that I want to make a meaningful contribution to?

Some people may know the answer to that question immediately.

There may be an issue or a cause that they’re drawn to because of a past experience.

Others may struggle to answer that question.

Likely because thee are lots of different issues and causes that they care about.

If you’re in that situation then here’s my suggestion: pick one out of a hat.

Now you may think I’m joking with that suggestion.

But I’m not.

I’m 100% dead serious.

As long as it’s an issue that you deeply care about, does it really matter which one you decide to contribute to?

And isn’t it better to make a decision and get started NOW then wasting months or years trying to figure out the “perfect” issue or cause for you to focus on.

Trust me, given all the problems in the world, and given how short life is, wasting lots of time picking an issues or cause doesn’t make much sense.

So figuring out an issue or cause that you want to make a contribution to is the first step.

The second step is figuring out HOW you want to make a contribution.

In other words answer this question: How do I want to make a contribution to the issue or cause that I’ve chosen?”

With any issue, there are lots of different ways to make a meaningful contribution.

You’re task is to pick one that fits for YOU.

To do that, you’re going to have to get to know yourself really well.

Here are some questions to consider for this step:

  • What skills and abilities do I have AND enjoy using? 
  • What skills and abilities am I willing to put in the time and energy to learn or improve?
  • Do I prefer direct service work or working behind the scenes? Or maybe a mix? 
  • If the former, do I prefer working one-on-one, in small groups, or in big groups?
  • Where do I want to make a contribution? My local community? My country? The world? Something else?
  • Am I willing to pursue additional training, education, or certification?
  • Are there tasks that I would absolutely NOT want to do?
  • Do I prefer to be indoors or outdoors or something else?
  • Do I prefer working independently or as part of a team? 

This is obviously NOT a comprehensive list of questions that you can ask yourself at this step.

But it should at least get you started. 

Then it’s a matter of putting that information together to decide on your “how”. 

From there you can put together a life purpose statement that might look something like this:

My purpose is to make a contribution to X (your issue or cause) by doing Y (your how).

Once you have your life purpose statement, commit to pursuing it for 5-10 years. 

Chances are it will take some time before you can begin to make a meaningful impact. 

And you may need to make some tweaks long the way in terms of your issue/cause and in terms of your how. 

There’s absolutely no problem with that as long as you’re still pursuing a purposeful path.

After 5-10 years you can re-evaluate and see if the path you’ve chosen still fits for you.

If not, then it may be time to find a new cause/issue or a new “how”.

So that is my answer to the question “How can I find my true purpose in life?”

Stop trying to find your true purpose in life.

Instead…try to find A purposeful path that fills you with joy and that makes a the world a better place. 

**Would you like my help in finding a purposeful life path?* 

If you’d like my help in finding a purposeful life path, then I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery session

Just click the button below, fill out the application, and we’ll schedule a time to talk. 

Ed Herzog

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I think it’s the “how to” that stops a lot of us from moving forward toward our dream. We may have a foggy idea of what we think we want, but the moment thoughts move toward the “how to make it happen”, it vanishes in the mist and it’s just easier to continue with the status quo.

    It takes courage to heed that voice that is prompting us to move toward our essential self that manifests through our dreams.

    Thank you, Ed for this meaningful AND practical post.

    1. Hi Judy –

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Honestly, I think it depends. If someone’s dream is to follow a traditional career path (doctor, teacher, etc). then the “how-to” is a lot easier. But for those of us who are called to follow a non-traditional path….then the how-to becomes a LOT more difficult. And it definitely takes a lot of courage to start and continue down the path.

  2. Dear Ed Herzog.

    Beautiful article indeed.

    It’s a very common confusing question these days. As from many years we have been told to choose what we really love the most and put all our energy into it. But as you have mentioned, It’s not easy to find that one thing for rest of your life. It’s really difficult for many people to figure out that one fulfilling purpose. Also, people do get confused with talent and purpose. I think they are two separate things. People might have modicum of talent in singing, writing, drawing. However, purpose according to me will be something that let us contribute to the society for the welfare of any living creature on this earth. In simple words, adding value to the society is our purpose. Some people are lucky who contributes to the society with their talents and this makes their talent and purpose aligned. But not all fall in this category.

    At times, people realizes their purpose very late in their mid ages at 40’s , 50’s or 60’s. At this point of time, they feel it’s useless to start as society always encourages young generation to start something new or to learn. So most of us comes in this category where we truly understand our purpose but then it’s too late in terms of age factors.

    We all set our measures for success with people who are very successful and popular. But mostly people who became successful have started working from a very young age starting from 5 at times and when we compare our ages with those celebrities then we get demotivated. This is one of the reasons that why most of us drop this idea of following our inner call or purpose even if we realizes it and hence we stuck up in doing things in which we don’t feel content and we stay unhappy and unsatisfied all the time.

    1. Very well stated Monika. I think you hit on one of the challenges. It takes time to figure out your purpose in life and most of us don’t figure it out until later in life. But we don’t want to wait. We want to know out purpose NOW! Waiting for something so important can be hard but it often takes a lifetime of experience to figure it out.

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