You’ve hit a routine. You wake up, make your coffee, get in your car, turn on your radio and head to work. While en route, you often catch yourself getting lost in your thoughts, wondering if you’re even on the right path with your life.
It is totally normal to wonder if you’re heading in the right direction. Sometimes it feels like seasons of our life can pass before our eyes, and we’re just along for the ride. It’s a lot of pressure and can be incredibly intimidating to think about if you are on the right path, as if there is only one path for you, and any wrong choice could derail you from that path. Rather than focusing on what’s the one right path for you, I think it can be more helpful, productive and inspiring to focus on your purpose. Claiming your purpose and using it to guide your work ensures that you in the driver’s seat and not letting your life drag you along.
When you start to question your path, it may not be because you’re altogether on the wrong path, but it may be because you are beginning to stray from your purpose. Trust those feelings. You know yourself best. You know in your gut when something needs to change for you to be more true to yourself and to your purpose. If you are living in your purpose, then you can be sure that you ARE on the “right” path.
If you feel stuck but aren’t exactly sure how or why, try asking yourself these questions to see if you are on a path that aligns with your purpose:
1. Do you know your purpose?
If someone asked you, a close friend, or maybe even an interviewer for a new position, would you be able to articulate what your purpose is in your life? What drives you? What kind of impact do you want to have? In order to know if you are living within your purpose, it is essential for you to know what your purpose is. This is the first step. Some of these questions may help you begin to think more about what your purpose is, but if this is something you want to spend more time with, check out my blog post Simple steps to make career decisions that better align with your values.
2. Do you feel peace and joy in your work, even when it’s really hard?
A great indicator that you’re living in your purpose is that even when work is trying, exhausting and difficult, you feel an overarching sense of peace, joy and comfort knowing that you are where you are supposed to be. If you feel underlying uneasiness in your work, it may be a sign that you are living outside of your purpose in some way.
3. Can you identify what your passions are? What about how your experiences uniquely position you for impact?
Knowing and being able to name your passions, your significant experiences, and the unique ways that you can have an impact are great signs that you are aware of your purpose. Spend some time thinking about your passions, your experiences, your sets of knowledge and your skills. Write them down. Do these things feel present in your life and work? If yes, you are probably living in your purpose. If not, then maybe think about what can change so your passions and unique skill sets can re-emerge at the forefront of your purpose-driven life.
4. How much room do you have in your life for reflection?
How often do you reflect on your life, work, decisions and purpose? How many opportunities in your days do you give yourself to reflect? Do you ever set aside large chunks of time to reflect on what matters most to you and how you will live that out? Intentionally creating space to reflect frequently is essential to being aware of your purpose, being conscious of if you are living within it, and holding yourself accountable to readjust whenever you stray from your purpose. If you reflect often, odds are that you pay attention to your purpose, how it evolves and how it guides you. If you don’t reflect often, I would recommend prioritizing that more in your life. I cannot overstress how important it is when trying to live within your purpose!
5. Do you regularly meditate, journal or talk decisions through with people in your inner circle?
Different modes of reflection work well for different people. Regardless of what works best for you, integrating these practices into your life in a meaningful way is an awesome way to tune into and stay accountable to your purpose. These are great concrete ways to work through your questions of if you’re on the right path or not, within the context of your purpose. You’d be surprised by how much clarity you can find by checking in with yourself and those you hold closest to you consistently and often. When you’re practicing regular reflection, your decisions will naturally be more intentional and you will be able to be more confident that you are heading in the “right” direction.
6. Do your decisions come from a place of passion and joy or from a place of fear and need for security?
Throughout your reflection process, it’s important think back to decisions you’ve made to get you where you are, and how those have affected you. Not always, but it is usually the case that decisions motivated by joy or passion are in pursuit of your purpose, while decisions driven primarily by fear or need for security take you away from your purpose. Does this ring true for you in the past? How can thinking about where your decisions are coming from help you stay on track with your purpose in the future?
7. What are the times in your life when you have felt the most productive or engaged? What was similar about those times? Are you currently experiencing these feelings?
An excellent way to process if you’re living within your purpose is to think about times when you have felt like the best version of yourself, identify what those times had in common, and ask yourself if you see those commonalities in your current position or not. If not, why not?
8. Does the way you spend your time align with what might be your purpose?
Even if you are aware of your purpose, does your calendar reflect that? Are most of your waking hours spent within your purpose? Breaking down your days and weeks and trying to connect your different project and responsibilities to your purpose can be an extremely revealing exercise to see if you’re on the right path.