Exercises to help you get in touch with Purpose
I write extensively on PURPOSE because it is such a powerful, motivating force in our lives. To boil it down to its essence, you need to think of your purpose as tightly coupled with what you’re passionate about in life. If you can tap into your passion and use it to fuel your courage, you’re unstoppable.
I call this Purposeful Courage and it’s a different type of courage than something like being physically brave. Your purpose is the fuel that drives you forward.
Now let’s contrast that with your job and career. When it comes to the way you make a living, there is usually a misalignment that makes going to work a drag.
Your passions and how you make a living don’t need to be the same and often are not. But if you align these two parts of your life, then you are way ahead of the game and you have a great recipe for success.
Even if your job and your passions are not one in the same, you can still find great fulfillment and success by pursuing your passions as your side hustle. Start working to align the way you make money, together with what drives and motivates you and then you never have to work another day in your life.
Here are some exercises to help you understand what your passions might be and some ways to connect with others who can help you realize more growth and success doing what you love.
Remember, it’s going to require a little courage on your part to finish these exercises, but I know you have it in you!
Finding Your Purpose Exercises
- Cut through all the noise and excuses to dream of a time when you dreamed big…
Let’s begin by going way back to when you used to dream big. Maybe you still do dream big…even better! Take some quiet time without distraction to go through the exercise.
Step 1 – Remember what you were passionate about back when you were a young child. What got you excited and possessed your mind? Go through the following steps…
- Identify 3 – 5 things you were really passionate about when you were a child.
Take your time to revisit that time and feeling. Maybe you need to do a little meditation in a quiet place to get your mind ready for this. Which toys did you have and which toys did you want? What did you obsess over? Was it Sports? Stories? Building things? Exploration? Science? Music? Art? Adventure???
- Got them? Write them down.
You will be writing down several bits of information during this multi-part exercise, so try to write it all down on one sheet neatly if you can. You can always start again if you need to. I suggest a physical notebook or piece of paper and ink. There is value in actually writing down your thoughts and intentions that make them more real. It ties back into the power of Visualization.
- Add 3 interests that you have developed as you’ve grown to adulthood.
Once your experiences grow and you have had a chance to explore the world a bit, your passions may have grown or changed. Is it helping others? Teaching kids? Coaching? Love of outdoors? traveling? Computers? Ask yourself, “Where would I spend my time if money were not an issue?” Write these down next to your childhood passions. How do they line up?
- Ask a good friend or family member.
Have the courage to ask a friend, or someone that knows you well what they think your interests, passions or strengths are. This feedback could well be new information to you that might help give direction to your life. Others often have keen insight into what your strengths are that you do not fully recognize. DO NOT IGNORE what they say. Write this down with your other notes.
- Now, do any of the passions from your childhood align with those of your adult self?
If so, that’s great because it gives you a strong hint of where to start. Highlight the connections on your notepad. If not, that’s ok. Just continue with a few areas that you are currently passionate about.
- Finally, is there anyone you know that is living your dream?
A passion that you share? Someone that has a purpose you greatly admire? Write those people down on your notepad, even if you don’t know them personally. Later in this exercise, you’ll search for additional people to network with.
Step 2 – Write it down and make it real. Let’s talk about your bucket list. In case you’re not familiar with this, it is simply a list of things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket.’
- Write down the top 5 activities on your bucket list next to the interests you’ve written on your notepad.
If you don’t have a bucket list, spend a little time developing one. A bucket list is a really strong indicator of what your passions are, the things that you might do if you only had more money, less fear, etc. Don’t ignore these thoughts, there is great power behind them!
Don’t worry if your list is long, you can and should update it as you learn and grow, no problem. Just go through this exercise all the way to the end, then you can repeat whenever you get a new idea.
Step 3 – Use your sleuthing skills. Doing some exploration of what is possible may be quite surprising. There are people living large, making money and pursuing their passions like never before in the history of man and you should get out of your shell and explore a little to get some inspiration.
- Let’s do a little research.
Give yourself a few minutes a day to do this one. Go to a social networking site, such as Linkedin, or google for the forums and sites where people you are interested in congregate both personally and professionally. Look for people (you don’t need to know them) who make a living or participate full time in each of the passions you wrote down. You can use the search tools to find companies, topics, and more. Have the courage to ask others about where to find special interest groups and associations.
- Read each person’s profile and get to know as much as you can about what they do.
Visualize yourself meeting with them to talk about your mutual interests. What would you ask them? What would you tell them if they asked you what you wanted in life and how they could help?
- Write down a list of at least 5 or 6 people, more if you have time.
Oftentimes, these people are happy to speak with you and help because they are passionate about what they do and want others to join in their tribe. Really, I’m not making this up. They actively set aside time in their schedule exactly for this purpose. Overcome your fear of being rejected. Send them a message; their contact info is usually in their profile. Just be honest about why you’re contacting them. DON’T FORGET to set up an interesting profile with a picture first before you start reaching out to people you would like to meet.
That doesn’t mean everyone you contact will be open to helping, but remember that rejection is inevitable and it is part of the game. All successful people have been rejected, sometimes hundreds of times, before they had their breakthrough. Don’t ever give up! Persevere and wear rejection like a badge of honor. If you’re failing, that means you’re trying, and you should be proud of that! Not everyone has the courage to try.
I’ll give you a little sample of how to message someone you haven’t met before at the bottom of the page.
If you don’t get a response right away, be patient, and don’t be discouraged. People are busy, and you won’t get a response from everyone, but I bet you’ll have more luck than you think! It’s all about suppressing your fear of being rejected. Don’t ask, don’t get.
If you already meditate, great. If not, now’s a good time to take 15 minutes, find a quiet place, and prepare your mind to relax. Find some simple breathing exercises online. You will find that getting control of fear is often as simple as learning how to regulate your breathing patterns. There is physiology at work here and it’s powerful. More on breathing in another post.
Turn off your phone’s ringer. Make sure you’re in a peaceful and quiet place for this activity.
Step 1 – Start by visualizing yourself as safe, happy, and confident, with no worries about any external pressures that keep you from exploring your true passions in life. There are many FREE resources on how to meditate that you can find online. Find one that works for you and don’t give up. Practice regularly until you start to understand the power of focusing the mind and breathing as part of a regular routine in your life.
Step 2 – Begin to visualize yourself taking part in each of the passions you’ve committed to memory. The order does not matter, but go through them one by one. If you find yourself spending more time on one or two activities, that’s no problem, just don’t skip any before trying to visualize yourself in that activity.
Step 3 – Imagine yourself spending all your waking time involved in that activity, interacting with other successful people who value what you do and want to help you become great at that activity. Spend enough time to thoroughly relax and explore each opportunity. If you’re interrupted, take the time to deal with the interruption and then start over. It may take you a few attempts to find enough peace and quiet to get through each of your passions and bucket list items.
The goal of this exercise is to truly think about what it would be like to spend your time in a pursuit that you think might align with your true desires, talents, and strengths. Dare to let yourself dream. You may identify something that seems crazy, but don’t talk yourself out of exploring all of your options. Your conscious brain is great at saying no, so you need to push past the initial roadblocks.
Step 4 – Did you come to any conclusions? Are you surprised by anything you discovered? Add your thoughts and keep them with your Purpose notes from the first exercise. Maybe you are considering making one of your passions a hobby that you will pursue. Sometimes we suppress our own interests because it doesn’t fit in easily with our family life or other commitments. But if you deny yourself of doing the things you love and that fuel your happiness, you will have resentment and that negatively impacts those around you too.
Remember that you can’t get to where you want to be in one step. You need to start with visualizing what you want, commit to it, then you will craft a plan, step by step to move towards where you want to be. If you never start your journey, you will never get there.
Take a picture of your notes and keep it for future reference. When you want to go through this exercise again, you can always create new notes and see how your thinking has progressed or changed.
I would love to hear if you reached out to anyone and made a great connection. Did you learn anything interesting? Did your bucket list surprise you? Did it make you start to think about changing what you’re doing today to be able to accomplish those things? Share your thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you!
Sample Outreach Letter/Email:
I discovered your profile while doing a research project on, <insert your area of interest>, a subject about which I am very passionate. I very much admire your work and hope to reach your level of success one day. I was hoping you might have a few minutes to allow me to introduce myself and ask you a few questions that could help me follow in your footsteps.
I look forward to hearing from you, and I thank you in advance for your time!
Note that on Linkedin, if you contact someone on Linkedin, they will typically check out your profile before getting back to you. I strongly encourage you to build a good profile on Linkedin. Just model your profile off of another person who has a lot of contacts and looks interesting. Successful people are generally interested in other interesting people. Be ready with a story of what you want to be and just be yourself!