Greetings searchers and seekers and lovers of life! These steps are just my attempt to help bring some order and methods to help you on YOUR JOURNEY. You have the answers within you. I’m simply helping you help yourself which is all that anyone can actually do regardless of what some might say. I can guide you to the shores of many waters, but it is up to you to drink and determine what is best for you. I do my best to make no assumptions and only offer guidance and suggestions. The rest I leave in your capable hands!
Step One: Think On It!
We are all too busy and too bothered to take time to stop our bodies and our brains to REALLY think and feel deeply about what we want or need. We’ve always wanted faster and as close to instant gratification as possible. Google’s research shows that things are getting worse as even a 100 millisecond delay in search result response time will cause users to actually do fewer searches and not engage as much! The search for purpose and expected results can take days or even years if you aren’t able to slow down your mind and body and focus. In a calm state (via meditation/breath work), ask yourself questions like,:
- “What are some activities or things I really like and get me excited just thinking about and even more so engaging with?”
This latter part of engaging/doing is key as sometimes the anticipation of something is actually a bigger source of enjoyment than the actual thing/activity (almost all addicts state this as well as most children before Christmas). If the idea of something excites you, but you’ve never done it before…JUST DO IT and see how the anticipation measured up to the experience! Give it several tries and some time though before writing it completely off. One bad apple (experience) only spoils the bunch IF you don’t take the time and effort to check out all of the remaining apples!
- “What are some talents of mine where I naturally shine?”
To get to this, look to see what people always seem to come to you for advice about or help with. Often our purpose is aligned with the natural talents we are given. However, dare to dream and reach outside your comfort zone if you have a heart for something and it brings you positive fulfillment.
- “What do I want my legacy or impact on my family, friends, community and world to be?”
Do you see any way that your talents can make a positive impact when you look around your home, city, state or even nation? Mother Teresa stated that it isn’t important to do “great things” but to do small things with GREAT LOVE! How can you inject more love into the day-to-day things you do and interactions with people? Don’t discount the small encounters as being of little value. Sometimes the smallest kindness (like a warm and genuine smile to a store clerk/cashier) makes all the difference.
Step Two: Write It Down Already!
All of that thinking you did in Step One can’t just live in your head. Some ideas seem AMAZING when you think about it, but as soon as you bridge the gap from imagination to reality with ink on a piece of paper the fog of wistfulness clears and you see it was a dud. That’s ok too! Duds are a sign of progress and movement. Brainstorming is about letting yourself think without trying to police or filter your thoughts on how appropriate or accurate or “real” they might be.
Writing down these ideas and items in a list can help you see a pattern easier! If you notice that one idea you enjoyed was about “dogs” or “animals” and another was “outdoors” and another was around “pet health” maybe those could come together by developing a local “Doggie Boot Camp” where you work with owner’s to get their pets in better shape and health, more obedient through consistent training and most of this happens in a local park or other outside location.
An idea that lives only in your head can morph and change slightly. It is way more fluid and harder to pin down or review or analyze because the actual idea may change depending on your mood!
Keep a journal or sheet of paper with you (or a note app on your phone) and be ready to jot down things that you come across in life or see on T.V. or hear people talk about or, heaven forbid, read in a book! Inspiration can come from anywhere. If you are driving and can’t type, use your phone’s voice memo app or download one you like or buy a stand alone voice recorder. Just be sure to capture and review and write down everything.
Step Three: Start With Elimination!
Now that you have a list, and it may continue to grow, the best place to start with is to eliminate some things. Why? Because removing obvious items that, with just a little concerted thought you realize aren’t a good fit, allows you to focus more of your time and effort on doing the work of testing the rest out!
- If someone else told you to do it and you don’t feel an intense draw towards it, then mark that off. Your purpose comes from within you!
- If you aren’t sure where the idea came from, but don’t feel a strong resonance with it or it feels like it would cause way too much disruption (like sell all your belongings and live with a nomadic tribe in the rainforest), cross it off for now. If it keeps coming back to your mind, then write it down and explore further!
- If the idea seems more like a JOB than a JOY to do, cross it off. Your purpose shouldn’t require willpower to want to do and be a part of. It might require a ton of physical effort though. If you find yourself “in flow” when doing this and hours speed by in the blink of an eye, then this is a strong indicator of good alignment. If the hours drag on, this indicates a poor alignment. Your purpose will PULL you toward it without you having to constantly try and PUSH yourself through sheer will power.
- Look at what you are already doing in your life and see what you can eliminate that doesn’t bring you joy doing it. I’m not referring to responsibilities here! Only the extracurricular things like binge watching Netflix series (how do you feel afterwards in your mind and body and emotions?) or going to the bar/club every weekend (or more often if you were like me “back in the day”). Your days and nights can only be filled with so many things. To add something, there must be something taken away. Don’t sacrifice self improvement or health (food, sleep, exercise, reading/learning, etc) to fit something else in while leaving something that only distracts or promotes unwellness (like sitting motionless for hours and hours on the couch). Sometimes you have to choose between “temporary enjoyment/entertainment/distraction” and “long term fulfillment/happiness/achievement”.
Step Four: Try And Try Again
When you have separated some of the chaff from the grain, now is the time to order your list with what excites you most at top and then go one by one to put them and you through the test of how it feels to experience and live it! Life is about living and doing and experiencing contrast. If something is too much of a burden, stop doing it and move on. If you love something and can’t get enough, then keep going and maybe double-down by eliminating something else you are doing so you have more time for this (if you haven’t already eliminated all the extra things in Step Three)!
As you are trying all of these things out, write down what you like or dislike. Can you change yourself or effect change that would improve your experience? Write down any new inspirations and ideas to try and put them through the above process. You might try dog walking and realize it isn’t for you, but you enjoy dog grooming and have that opportunity open up because you walked dogs for a groomer!
If something seems out of your reach, it is either because you are not currently resourceful enough or what you are wanting isn’t in enough alignment with where you are right now. You can’t make a square peg fit into a round hole unless you get out the saw and if you are having to fight (push) that much, then now is not the time. You might also try and ask for help or assistance or ideas. Join community groups or programs and talk to people about what you want and what you see your obstacles are to getting it. You might be surprised how easily the obstacles disappear with a little help from someone else (our human brains are wired to solve problems and answer questions).
You can also work directly with a life coach or counselor or pastor or even a mentor in this regard of evaluation and obstacle removal. However, don’t ask them what you should do or what your purpose is as only you can find that within you. They might give a suggestion of where to start on your list or even something to add to the list, but only add it if the suggestion feels like inspiration.