It seems that finding your 'purpose' is a hot topic these days. I personally love learning about finding what lights my soul on fire. I read a new book on the topic and have integrated some of the practices. However, I know that finding your purpose can be very overwhelming and have an opposite effect for some people. I've had conversations with people who say because they haven't found their 'passion' or what they are 'good at' they feel anxiety and feel like they are running out of time. Because of these two opposing reactions, I have again learned the lesson that everything is perspective. Just because something resonated with me does NOT mean it will for someone else.
I feel when some people hear the word purpose, they automatically think that it has to mean their career. That if they they don't love their job they have somehow missed the mark. What if I changed the question from finding your purpose to what gives you joy? Posing the question in terms of joy seems to take a little pressure off, at least to me anyway. If you start getting comfortable hearing the whispers in life while also getting reacquainted with your soul, finding things that make you lose track of time won't seem like such a chore. So break out that notebook (I won't call it a journal because that may bring about pressure) and start some long overdue conversations with yourself. Some questions you can start with when getting real quiet might be:
Who am I?
Where do I belong?
When do I feel fulfilled?
Journaling is an excellent tool for your health. The simple act of writing down your thoughts and feelings allows you to understand them more clearly. Keeping a journal can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health. Between journaling your thoughts and meditation, getting to know your inner-self will prove to be not only manageable but dare I say enjoyable? The beginning stages of change always feel uncomfortable but that feeling lessens with each new "issue" you're attempting to improve upon. Eventually you start asking yourself what took so long for me to implement a change in my life?
(Here is a fun little exercise I came across. While you have your notebook cracked open try this equation by Richard Leider: Gifts + passions + values = purpose (or joy)
Again, try to take the pressure off yourself to come up with the 'perfect' list or examples. This is an exercise for your eyes only. Start small with things that make you smile. Once you get more comfortable more ideas will naturally flow to you. Walk away from your notebook and go about your day. Set an intention to make a note in your notebook every time something makes you feel good or makes you lose track of time. Once you start paying attention you may have memories popping up from last week, last month or maybe as far back as your childhood. Go with what comes to you and, before you know it, you will have a full list of things that bring you joy. Does this mean something on that list has to be your new career choice? No, but who's to say something couldn't eventually stem from that list that takes your life or career in a different and wonderful direction?
Start acting on that list you have accumulated. If you wrote down clipping coupons as a fun hobby then start scheduling time each week to MAKE it happen. There is no more room for excuses when it comes to your joy! Carve out a few minutes to sit down and clip away. I have found when I am lost in a hobby or joyous experience, downloads start to flood in. By that I mean new ideas and thoughts start to emerge. When I get lost in an activity I know my stress trigger is turned off or at least on low which makes room for new insights to come forth. This is a nonnegotiable time for yourself. It is not selfish to get to know more of the real you! You will start to shift in positive ways that will be apparent to you but also to those around you. Everyone wins when you do internal work, so no more stalling. Get started today!