If you’re wondering how to find your purpose in life and achieve it, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Whether you’ve struggled with this question before or are just embracing it for the first time, it can be daunting to get started on the path of development. The tips below will support you in your personal journey. You can also check out my article “What Nobody Tells You About Finding Your Purpose.” Regardless of where you are in the process, these nine steps will help you get on track and stay there.
1. Uncover: It is challenging to uncover our life purpose when it is buried under unresolved past issues. This junk of the past can conceal our motives for our current interests and actions, making it hard to tell which direction to even face when starting down the path towards our purpose. The first step of finding your life purpose is working through the personal emotional baggage and false beliefs that were developed prior to this stage in your life.
2. Discover: After you begin to resolve the past, who you really are begins to emerge more clearly. You begin to notice more of your strengths and natural inclinations, and spend less time getting caught up in the stories of your. Although you have been there all this time, this phase of finding your purpose can feel like a stage of discovery.
3. Strengthen: Once you have made contact with your deeper self it is time to build and strengthen that self. This step includes both continued self-discovery work and letting go of any unresolved business from the past. It is a good time to nurture the skills and traits that are associated with your true self.
4. Pretend: You may or may not feel ready to step in more fully to your life purpose at this point in time. Let your imagination guide you. Try on different hats and approaches. Give yourself the opportunity to explore outside of whatever box you have been accustomed to.
5. Enjoy: Our joy helps to guide us to our true purpose in life. Pay attention to where your enthusiasm and your joy are. Identifying these reactions and what causes them will help you find your way to your life purpose. It will also help you stay on track with your purpose as you get further down the road.
6. Practice: Just because you are meant to do it does not mean that you know how to do every part of it. There are skills that need to be developed for you to achieve your purpose in life and take it to the next level. Learn what they are and begin to practice them in any way that you can.
7. Refine: It is very unlikely that you will be 100% clear and on track with your life purpose from the start. It is important to pay attention throughout your process. See where your energy levels and enjoyment go up and down. Notice where your natural talents shine. Make adjustments so that you are more on track.
8. Support: Manifesting your life purpose requires support. People who understand and believe in you are essential to your ability to find your purpose in life and achieve it. Pay attention to who supports you and who does not. If you do not have these people in your life already, begin to look for them. No dream is fulfilled in isolation.
9. Master: Keep learning and developing what you have now determined is your life purpose. Do not worry if it does not have a label. Allow yourself to focus on the many aspects of what you are undertaking and develop each of them to a whole new level of mastery. This advanced skill level will give you what you need to overcome new levels of challenge and reach new levels of personal fulfillment with your life purpose.
Learning how to reinvent yourself professionally is a challenge at any stage of life and career. You may have already had to tackle this challenge when you lost a job, became obsolete in your field, or just needed a new level of challenge in your work-life. But what do you do when you’re called to make the deeper kind of shift that occurs when you begin craving work that feeds your soul at a whole new level? This shift requires you to learn how to reinvent yourself professionally, with spiritual insight.
At this point in life you might find that the importance of what you do for your livelihood is overshadowed by the importance of your own well-being. Sometimes this feels like, “What once worked for me no longer works.” At other times, it feels like, “The work I used to love feels less interesting, if not outright out of alignment with who I am!” However it manifests for you, this need to connect with a deeper meaning will halt you in your tracks.
When people work with me during this phase of their development, they are frequently at a loss as to how to proceed. Their craving to have more rewarding work may not coincide with a knowledge of what that is, or even a desire to make the switch to this new way of being. It can take time to do the necessary and challenging work to figure out how to reinvent yourself professionally so that your work aligns with the needs of your body, mind, and spirit.
Responding to the next calling of your personal development requires fresh acknowledgement of what is now most important to you. It also requires that you do the work to become the person who can have that “next level” experience. Adapted from the words of the spiritually wise, here are some suggestions on how to reinvent yourself professionally.
“Our livelihood is intimately tied to the food we eat, water we drink and places where we recreate.” — Mark Udall
The physical health of our bodies is essential to our overall wellbeing. This means being attentive not only to the food we eat, but also to the health of the environments that we frequent. If we work in a toxic environment, eventually it rubs off on us. If we sit all day, we eventually pay the price of that habit. The worst culprits are work environments that are emotionally toxic. Whether it is the people in these environments or the emotional price we need to pay to do the work, emotionally toxicity is a slow poison to your wellbeing.
Taking care of yourself in a holistic way means no longer settling for what is unhealthy. It requires that we become more aware of the effects that each part of our life has on us. This process can initially seem to increase, rather than decrease, the discomfort of being in these environments, but what is really happening is that we are fully noticing the toxicity that always surrounded us.
“But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want.” — Anita Roddick
The myth of the entrepreneur tells us that with ingenuity and hard work we can create riches. This dream, and the benefits mentioned in the last Roddick quote, might make entrepreneurship seem like the answer to your prayers for balance and time. And for some, it is. And for some, working for themselves is in fact a dream come true. But for most, the spiritual satisfaction we are looking for in our work is not answered solely by taking the path of entrepreneurship.
Instead of riches, let’s focus on satisfaction. Roddick tells us that if you can do something that you are good at, skilled at, and “earn a living,” the life you want will be yours. This is not the dream of untold wealth, this is the dream of dream satisfaction. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but when you approach your work with the goal in mind solely of profit then you may miss some things along the way. If, on the other hand, you approach your work with pleasure and satisfaction as the goal, then your financial rewards will be that much richer.
“A man without ethics is a beast loosed upon this world.” — Albert Camus
Too often I have heard people diminished the impact of the unethical choices that they have been encouraged to make in service of their career. Ethics, in our current complex world, can indeed be quite challenging to hold onto. Ethical dilemmas are posed by the simplest components of what makes our job – Who built those desks you work on, and were they fairly paid? Are you using recycled paper, and do you recycle in your office? – and they continue all the way through to larger issues of race, gender and power.
If you are looking to start a new chapter in your life you will be aided by examining where you are drawing your ethical lines at this particular juncture. Once you’ve drawn this map, it will be easier to turn away from any options that are not in line with your ethical beliefs at this time.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
For many, a lifetime of fitting ourselves into the form of other people’s wants breaks on the floor as we enter into this period of desire for deeper nourishment by our work. Some of us got degrees, careers, and accolades that were less about what we loved and more about what we felt the world needed from us. Some of us kept trying to find what the world was looking for in hope that we might be happy with it. This was not an effective strategy when we employed it at the start of our careers, and it is not an effective strategy for moving forward.
Learn what it is the lights you up. Whatever it is that truly makes you happy, when followed, will lead you in the direction of deep satisfaction. If you are unclear about how it will translate into your work, let that go for a moment and see if you can embrace the process of enjoying what you do. It will educate you about next steps, in one way or another.
We must not rest until right livelihood is within reach of every human being upon this earth we love and cherish. We all have a role to play in achieving this goal. — Agnivesh
Finally, think of what a world we would have if everyone was engaged in meaningful work that did not harm others or the planet. I sometimes struggle to image that world, but I know it would be amazing.
By taking steps in the direction of loving what you do and by approaching your work holistically you are moving the needle in this important direction for yourself and for others.
Learning how to reinvent yourself professionally with spiritual insight begins with learning how to ground yourself spiritually and create the space for yourself to grow.
There are times in our lives when, for one reason or another, the spiritual aspect of our experience moves to the side-line. For some of us, learning how to nurture spiritual development was never a part of our lives at all, and this shift may go unnoticed. For others, the shift may be a wide and gaping rift in our lives. Reconnecting with your spiritual self begins with learning how to nurture spiritual development.
Spirituality means many things to many people. Some people might associate it with a magical feeling, others a state of inner calm, and others a sense of being connected – to a greater being, a greater meaning, or to themselves. Personally, I define it as the knowledge that there is a consciousness to all things.
The sidelining of our spiritual experience might occur for some of us because we have outgrown our usual paradigm of understanding spirituality – this sometimes manifests as a feeling that our prescribed religion ceases to make sense to us.
For others, Maslow’s hierarchy rules out – the day-to-day of life becomes so overwhelming that there is little time to dedicate to learning how to nurture spiritual development.
There are also those of us for whom there never existed a connection to the spiritual. We were raised in an environment that did not honor the spiritual and so we did not learn how to connect with our internal sense of spirituality.
Whatever the reason, when a distance grows between our self and our spirituality we become cut off from a powerful resource. Relearning how to nurture spiritual development takes openness and intentionality.
First, remember that spirituality is a process more than a goal. Linking your spiritual experience to an event (like meditation, yoga, or sermon) is good and well, but let’s push ourselves in our development so that we can reconnect with our spirituality in an everyday kind of way.
Let go of what doesn’t work so you can let in what does work
If your religion no longer aligns with your beliefs, if you’re turned off by some of the atrocities committed in the name of religion, or if you cannot put science on hold to believe a literal interpretation of the creation myth, put down these thoughts.
Why? Because, despite the idea that faith requires you to accept the beliefs of your religion whole-cloth, most spiritual teachers think for themselves. Most atrocities made in the name of religion have less to do with faith and more to do with small-minded human behavior. Spirituality does not create harm to others. Hateful, fearful, and judgmental people do.
I encourage you to look for what makes sense to you, what creates meaning for you, and what helps you be a better person. Make these things part of your spiritual life regardless of what they look like.
You’ve got something to learn from the disconnect
Maybe you once felt very spiritually connected, but you do not feel that way now. When this happens, we can feel that we’ve lost something and we jump to all sorts of conclusions about what this means about us.
These moments of loss and disconnect can be as meaningful as our moments of spiritual connection. These difficult times have their own sweet reward and often teach us how to open more deeply to our spiritual truths.
When we learn to surrender to our heart, reach toward higher ideals, and let go of our shallow needs, our experience becomes more profound and meaningful. We learn that what we need to be deeply fulfilled is here and now in the present moment.
Instead of looking for change, take a look at what you are resisting and see if you can embrace it.
Hit the pause button
A moment of pause is infinitely important and almost always helpful.
Simply put, if we stop and let what is happening around us sink into our consciousness, we reconnect to the truth of our experience. The only thing we need to do is to stop long enough to let this happen.
We can stop in different ways. We can go on a retreat or spend a weekend at home being quiet. We can stop the raging of our anger and create space for love in our heart. We can stop the chatter of our mind and allow for more presence. Ideally, we can do all of these.
If you don’t have time to pause your life, do what you can. Even brief pauses like stopping to take a few deep breaths can bring in a deeper connection to yourself and what is around you. Over time the effects will become noticeable.
Remember, Spirituality is a process and it doesn’t come with dogma. So, open up, explore and find your own pathways to your spiritual connection. You’re the only one who knows how to nurture spiritual development in yourself.
Understanding why personal power is important to your spiritual development begins with understanding that personal development and spiritual development are interdependent, mutualistic processes. The idea that each of these processes is separate and strictly secular/spiritual is a misconception that will prevent us from truly claiming our personal power.
Personal development resources take many forms, but they often manifest on one of two paths: a spiritual path or a secular path. In my experience, people in need (or in hope) of developing themselves turn to their spirituality or they turn to therapy. Each of these paths boasts many strengths, and some shortcomings. Neither is inherently “better” than the other, but both tend to leave out some of the valuable components of the other.
Having a toolkit of personal development skills will help you go deeper in your spirituality. Likewise, your spirituality will help keep you grounded and centered as you work your way through personal development practices. Each of these paths offers value that will enable you to reach a level of personal clarity beyond what can be found by just pursuing a single path alone.
In the same way that spiritual development provides a firm foundation from which to begin personal development, personal development is part of the essential groundwork that spiritual development is built on. Our personal power, or our empowerment, is a critical component of our spiritual development. Here is why.
Spiritual Development Demands Humility: The more that we grow in our spiritual power, the greater the problems that can be created by our unchecked egoic needs. Because of this it is essential that we are humble and true.
“Please let me say it loud and clear, the more you powerful are, the more your actions will have impact on people. The more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t your power will ruin you and you will ruin the other.” — Pope Francis
Without a sense of personal power, one is subject to the whims of the ego. One uses power to cover up for their limitations. Personal power is not power over. It is the power of choice and being right-sized. It allows us to know our limitations as well as acknowledge our greatness. It provides the foundation for being humble and therefore worthy of our spiritual development.
Spiritual Development is Challenging. There is not a single person on a spiritual path who goes untested. The tests, both successfully met and not, are means by which wisdom, impact, and spiritual capacity are gained, much more so than the peak experiences and other epiphanies we might be lucky to have. Each test that comes our way is an opportunity to learn and to grow by recognizing our role in its creation.
“Swami Veda says that whenever he gets sick first he thanks the Lord himself that he has the opportunity to close himself and he goes into silence. So each time he has pain he just closes his eyes and he thanks that now I have an opportunity to look within more.” — Pandit Hari Shankar Dabral
Personal Power helps us to be strong enough to ask the important question, how have I helped to create this problem? Without a toolkit of skills developed in our personal development work, we are unable to do this in a healthy way. We may blame the other party or situation or we blame ourselves when we ask the question. Either way, our spiritual development is curtailed.
Spiritual Development Requires Effort. To develop ourselves spiritually, we need to maintain continued focus and applied effort. There are no spiritual gains made by sloth or inactivity. Our outcomes are the direct result of the effort that we put in. This continued effort is the act of devotion. Devotion yields powerful results on our spiritual journey.
“That’s exactly it. True devotion only appears when we have just one desire and feel that we will die if we cannot realize that desire.” — Paulo Coelho
Without developing ourselves personally, we are unable to act from our adult self on a consistent and regular basis. This inability gets in the way of any sustained effort on our part. The ramifications of being unable to sustain our efforts is larger or smaller based on the place we are in our spiritual development. Some people have spiritual awakenings that are not in balance with their personal development, throwing them into experiences that challenge their mental health.
Personal development and spiritual development have many areas of overlap. However, they also provide some unique skills, techniques and insights that support us in becoming our full self. I encourage you to dive into both!
Looking to capitalize on the work you’ve done in your personal and spiritual development? Sign up for a one-day Personal Breakthrough Intensive with Dr. Kate Siner. You’ll use extensively researched and highly effective emotional and mental release techniques, combined with values work and strategic planning, to root out your limiting obstacles and eliminate them. Create space for your growth! Learn more →