Find your purpose

Having a life of purpose & fulfillment is key to maintaining happiness. “Maintaining” is the important point to keep in mind, as happiness must be cultivated, nurtured, and developed over time. There’s no one-stop shop for joy, and it’s crucial to acknowledge that it takes time and effort to figure out how to maintain your personal happiness. There’s no “one size fits all” for this kind of stuff. Your twenties are a pinnacle time in your life, if you find yourself struggling to decide what to do, wondering, “What’s the point of life?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

According to 2019, Gallup poll on personal happiness, 86% of Americans report being “very” or “fairly happy”. However, this number is actually at its lowest in the 71 years they’ve been polling this topic. We’re all in the same boat. Don’t worry if you feel aimless, or if you are failing to launch. You have the power to change, and these 11 tips will help you figure it out! So, let’s get started, and take this first step:

1. Read:

I get it, books aren’t for everyone. Everyone reads in some way, though. Do you scroll through Reddit? Check out the lore for your favorite games? Maybe you peruse the latest tech news? That still counts. As long as you’re absorbing information, and spending time analyzing and thinking about it. Whether it’s news, novels, or forum posts, reading will expand your horizons and knowledge, as well as help you relax, and reduce stress. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to try an epic fantasy series or a critically acclaimed piece of nonfiction, instead of just scrolling through your newsfeed… So, keep on reading!

2. Sit down, breathe & envision what your perfect life is like:

It may sound silly at first, but visualizing does a lot to help you manifest your goals and dreams. If you take the time to think about exactly what you want in life, you can build the stepping stones of the path to achieving your dreams. Consider how to figure out what to do with your life. And if you’re wondering, “How do you know what your purpose in life is?” You’re already on the right track. You probably won’t find answers right away, but don’t worry. Take a breather, and just think.

3. Cultivate gratitude:

Maybe you’ve heard of gratitude journals before, maybe you’ve even scoffed at the idea. It’s basically a diary, right? Who needs that? Journals might not be for everyone, but gratitude is. It seems like a weird idea, but gratitude helps keep us grounded, improves our mental and physical health, and can improve our relationships with others. Simply saying “thanks” to someone will make them more receptive to you. Saying “thanks” makes them feel good, and makes you feel good, too! Gratitude has an inherently positive effect. Go ahead, just acknowledge what you’re grateful for in your life, even the smallest things will add up.

4. Define your principles – what’s really important?

Now this one is pretty straightforward. What do you value in life? What beliefs do you hold deep down in your very core? Is there a particular philosophy that appeals to you? Maybe you’ve asked the question of how to find meaning in life. We all have different purposes, maybe you don’t know yours yet, and that’s OK! Just like with working towards happiness, figuring out your values is an ongoing process. It’s subject to change, especially at this point in your life, when change is all around you. Like with everything else on this list, it’s a matter of sitting down and taking the time to think.

Defining what matters to you will help you figure out how to lead your best life. Do you value adventure? A balanced life? Do you seek challenges? Is it important to you to be a leader? A collaborator? Do you want to give back to your community? Help others? Do you lean towards logic, or are you more of a creative thinker? If you establish principles, they will guide you through how you interact with the world at large, the kinds of goals you set, and how you’ll achieve them. 

5. Create goals:

Speaking of goals, SET GOALS. The definition of purpose is “something set up as an object or end to be attained,” in other words, a goal. The simple task of organizing your general wants and needs into a list of goals is immensely helpful. How do you do this? It’s simple. Like with everything else, think first. What do you want to do? What do you want to work towards? This can be a small thing like “I want to go for a walk every day,” or something bigger, like where you want to be in 5 years. Write your goals down, and the steps to achieving them. Be very specific and be realistic. Talk to someone about your goals, so that someone else can hold you accountable, and even help you figure out how to achieve them. Keep trying, and don’t be afraid to reassess and make changes along the way. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small!

6. Get out there & do it:

The first step is the hardest. Change can be scary, and maybe you feel like you’re not up for the challenge. Maybe it’s difficult to achieve your goals, and the idea of putting in all that work doesn’t seem worth it. Maybe you’re afraid of failure. You won’t know until you try. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll keep going and naturally pick up momentum. If you approach “getting out there” with a clear plan in mind, it’ll be easier than you think. Even if it feels uncomfortable or forced at first, those feelings won’t last. Building blocks don’t naturally come together, someone has to conceptualize, plan, put the first one in its place, then another, and another… Nobody’s perfect when they’re starting out.

7. Embrace your failures and learn from mistakes:

Just like how nobody’s perfect… everybody fails. No question about it. What’s important is how you move on from that failure, and what you learn from it. Acknowledge your mistakes and do things differently next time. Assess the situation. Why did you fail? How can you do better next time? Don’t pretend the mistake never happened, but don’t dwell on it. Try, try, try again. If you’re self-aware, you’ll recognize where you went wrong, and learn from it. It’s OK to admit when you’re wrong, because that’s the first step to making things right. Remember, everybody fails!

8. Accept change as a good thing:

The only constant in life is change. It is inevitable. Like with failure, if you acknowledge and embrace change, it’ll be easier to deal with the uncertainty it brings. It can be difficult to accept, especially when things don’t seem to be going your way. Your perception is key to handling the stresses of a life in flux. It can be challenging not knowing what’s coming tomorrow. 

It can feel like you’re not in control. It’ll be easier if you accept what you are in control of: yourself. You get to decide how you’ll adapt to new situations. You just need to accept that good and bad things will happen in life, not all change is bad. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “You cannot step into the same river twice,” and “everything flows.” The waters of the river are constantly changing, just as the world changes around us, no matter what we do. Resistance is futile!

9. Always keep getting better:

Humans are always “works in progress,” and it is up to you to continue improving yourself. It’s not about perfectionism, it’s about understanding that with personal development, there isn’t a clear end in sight. It’s a continuous process of growth and change. There’s always room for growth, so it’s important to let yourself be open to it. Keep learning. Keep reassessing. Keep getting better.

10. Create even more audacious goals:

Humans are always “works in progress,” and it is up to you to continue improving yourself. It’s not about perfectionism, it’s about understanding that with personal development, there isn’t a clear end in sight. It’s a continuous process of growth and change. There’s always room for growth, so it’s important to let yourself be open to it. Keep learning. Keep reassessing. Keep getting better.

Take a leap of faith! Think big. No goal is too ambitious, too bold, too crazy. There’s nothing cliché about the saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” It’s the simple truth! If you aim high, and keep putting effort in, you’ll always be at least one step further than you were yesterday.

11. Find a small group or community of like-minded individuals:

Find your tribe! If you surround yourself with people with similar aspirations, it’s only natural that friends will encourage and help each other along their individual journeys. Hanging out with like-minded people will cultivate great conversations, ideas, and partnerships over time. Are you wondering how to make friends? You can meet people through shared activities and interests, whether it’s a monthly D&D meetup, an axe-throwing group, or a neighborhood basketball team. It’s important to make connections, and easier now than ever, with online communities for pretty much all fandoms and hobbies. There are many ways to build a community. Online or IRL, there’s surely at least one person out there you can relate to.\

There you have it, 11 tips to help you get started in discovering what makes you tick. Where do you find your fulfillment? What do you want in life? How can you achieve independence? Above all else, identifying what’s important to you and figuring out how to stay true to that is the real first step to leading a life of purpose.