Purpose can be a difficult concept to grasp. It’s easy to envy those who have it, you might feel like something is missing if you don’t. Some say we each have one purpose, others say we have many throughout our lives.
Unfortunately, there’s no set formula to find it. If there was, there wouldn’t be the level of conversation and discussion that there is around it. But what I have observed is that purpose often arises out of personal experiences. This can happen in a few different ways:
- Following a difficult or challenging situation you’ve personally experienced. You might become motivated to help others deal with a situation you’ve gone through. Drawing from my own experience, I understand what it’s like to feel unhappy and unfulfilled. That feeds into my mission now to help people identify and create a life for themselves that they love.
- Sharing your experience to help others feel less alone. This can be particularly effective among minority groups or those dealing with issues that are considered taboo. Raising awareness and understanding of different challenges can be hugely inspiring and reassuring for others dealing with the same issues, especially when they’re not often discussed in society or within certain communities.
- Following a situation you’ve witnessed someone else experience. Supporting a friend or family member through a challenging time in their life can provide motivation to take action against any related injustice, or support a service or organisation that helped them.
- You can find purpose in what people thank you for. Whether intentionally or not, knowing you’ve done something that has positively influenced a person’s life can help highlight the meaning behind your actions. Pay attention to what people say they appreciate about you, or simply ask them.
These aren’t the only ways you might uncover your purpose. Below is a process to help identify yours.
Seven Levels Deep
Seven Levels Deep is a self-reflective process intended to draw out hidden subconscious thoughts, feelings and emotions that will lead a person to find their true ‘why’, their intrinsic motivation for any aspect of life.
It might appear simple but it’s incredibly powerful and can change to suit your situation. If you’re not sure where to begin, a good starting point is to ask the question, ‘What do I want to achieve in life?’
At this first stage, you can interpret the question however you choose. Once you have your answer, then ask yourself why is that important to you? I’ll share an example below to show how it could work in practice.
There are seven levels for a reason so make sure you go through them all. As you get deeper into the process you’ll start to get out of your head and more into the emotion of what drives you.
I spoke about this idea last week at a friend’s book club (which is why the example is book related!). Here’s what the process could look like.
What do I want to achieve in life? I want to read books every day.
Why is it important for me to read books all day? I love exploring new worlds and getting into the feelings and experiences of the different characters.
Why is it important for me to explore new worlds and characters? I want to escape from the pressures of my everyday life.
Why is it important I escape from my everyday life? Because life can be stressful and reading helps me relax.
Why is it important for me to relax? To help me feel calmer and be more present with my family.
Why is it important for me to be more present? So that I can fully enjoy my time with them and show my appreciation by focussing solely on them.
Why is it important that my family knows I appreciate them? They’ve been a huge support to me and I want to show how much I love and value them.
This is a relatively light hearted example but you can see how the process moves away from being something fairly simple and surface-level towards something more purposeful and meaningful. It’s not just reading, it’s a way to help yourself and show up better for your family. It transforms the activity from being ‘nice to have’ to something that should be made a priority.
This isn’t something that needs to be rushed, and there’s no right answer. It’s whatever is true for you. It can take as much or as little time as you need to reach the seventh level. And if you find yourself getting caught in a repetitive cycle of ‘why’s’, try asking ‘how’ or ‘what’ questions instead.