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How to Live a Life on Purpose

My wish for all of you is to live a life of intention.  A life that you live on purpose, not by default.  I say live a “life ON purpose.”  How is that different from saying a “life OF purpose” or a “life WITH purpose?”  Well, that small preposition can make a big difference.  When I say live a life ON purpose, I mean choosing to live your life the way you want to live it.  Not the way you think you “should” live it.  It means making choices WITH purpose to live a life OF purpose (see what I did there?)

  • Live a life WITH purpose – This is knowing who you are.  Spending time in self- reflection to make sure you identify your guiding principles, your values and your strengths.    

  • Live a life OF purpose – When you live a life of purpose, you are choosing to give back in some way.  It doesn’t have to mean working for a nonprofit or being a physician, but it does mean engaging in work that is meaningful to you.  

  • Live a life ON purpose – The reason I chose this preposition is because it encompasses the other two.  Making intentional choices purposefully by creating a vision of where you want to go, how you will get there, while keeping those guiding values in mind.

There is so much pressure today to make the “right” choice but not a lot of actual, meaningful information teaching us how to make that choice. Sure, there are lots of voices trying to tell you what you should do – your parents, your friends, television, movies, social media – it's so loud!  What I am suggesting is to tune out all of that.  Really.  Tune it out and look inward to who you are.  Seek help from those who will assist you in your quest to know who you are.  Otherwise, you run the risk of lifting your head in 5, 10, 30 years from now and realize you’ve been living someone else’s life!

There are some key steps to take in the quest to know yourself.  It starts with self analysis of where you are now, what you believe in and how you view the world.  Then it moves into what you want from life (vision), setting some goals and creating habits to make it happen.  Then be curious.  Explore possibilities.  Gain as much information and as many experiences as you can.  Rule stuff out.  Rule stuff in.  There are an infinite number of possible paths before you. Sure, some may be “better” than others, but all paths can teach you something if you let them.

Self-knowledge is a tricky, fluid and ever changing entity that never fully forms. Why? Because we as humans are always growing, changing, and evolving as the world around us brings good stuff and bad stuff into our orbit. We don’t wake up one day and say “Great! Now I know myself fully.” That may be a completely true statement at that moment; however, we don’t know what the next day/month/year may bring that will cause us to question again. That is totally OK. It’s an ongoing process, not an end product.  And that’s why you don’t have to have it all figured out right now.  Be curious and allow yourself to explore the possibilities.  Changing your vision and/or goals doesn’t mean you “gave up” or “quit,” it simply means that with new information, you have shifted your thinking. Plan to spend some time revisiting your vision regularly. 

So live your life on purpose.  Don’t float through life allowing it to carry you from one thing to the next without doing your personal self-research.  Make informed decisions because they make sense to you and what you want to accomplish.  You don’t have to have it all figured out – be curious and explore the possibilities.



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