So you think you’ve found your purpose? That’s awesome! Purpose is truly a gift, but the only way to know if you are on the right path for YOU is to test it out.
Your purpose should be easily articulated so it can serve as a tool for you. Let it guide your commitments and decision-making. There is not a day that goes by that I do not use my personal purpose statement to make a decision. My purpose helps me open and close doors. It helps me articulate to others who I am and what I believe. When I am unclear about where and how I should be spending my time, my purpose statement allows me to get refocused. Your purpose can help you in those same ways too if you let it.
Are you not sure if you’re utilizing your purpose to have the greatest possible impact? These are my four steps to test it out.
Once you can name your purpose, see if it feels right. It should feel intuitively good and deeply true to who you are, because in many ways, naming your purpose should be a verbal manifestation of your innermost desires. Does it make you smile? Does it help you breathe a fuller breath?
Your purpose should help provide you direction, build an innermost circle of people, and bring you peace and joy. When you think about the purpose you’ve identified, do you think it could help you determine what is next? By pursuing it, will you likely be able to build your network of people who share your values and convictions? Does your purpose statement bring you a feeling of deep satisfaction?
Support network check
Make a list of the people who know you best, your secret keepers. Also, add people to your list who inspire you, those who you feel have made it or are doing what you want to be doing. Then, ask the people on your list, “Given what you know about the world, and me, do you think that this purpose make sense for me?” If you want to take it one step further, you could ask, “How do you think I could live out that purpose in a meaningful way?” You will learn a lot from their feedback. Use it to vet your purpose and see if you’re heading in a direction meant for you.
Go through a list of everything you do in your life. Literally start recording what you do every day and how much of it, on a percentage basis, is spent doing “purpose-related” activities. Add up the hours that you are awake and divide it by how much of that time was spent “in your purpose.” It may be difficult and impractical to meticulously track your calendar in your busy, fluctuating life, but it can be extremely illuminating. If a reality TV crew were to follow you around for a day, would they be able to identify your purpose? If you told them your purpose, would they call you a liar?
If you find that you are spending too much time outside of your purpose, this may be the signal to cut back. Saying no to projects or opportunities is difficult when you are a passionate person, but doing so allows to live more fully in the work that is aligned with your purpose and the maximum impact you can make.
On the note of making choices driven by purpose, this is the toughest test. When you make any commitment, you should be able to filter it through your purpose. If your choices aren’t aligning with your purpose, you have to ask yourself: is your purpose off, or is the way that you’re making decisions off? Only you will know that truth.
Then, think about a major decision in your life, either something that has happened already, something that is happening right now, or a decision you foresee making in the future. Think about how, if you used your purpose, you would make that decision. Employing your purpose statement should make the decision-making process easier if your purpose is accurately defined.
If the purpose you have defined for yourself has passed all of these checks, then chase that purpose with all you’ve got. Make it so integral to who you are that the people closest to you would be able to identify and describe your purpose, because the way you live has made it that obvious to them.