Self Growth Program Includes the Purposeful, Driven Life
Common among all people is the drive to find life purpose. Every personal development plan should include activities designed to uncover and clarify life purpose.
The purpose driven life is worth seeking, as research studies show that those with meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, more productive, healthier, and live longer than those whose lives lack purpose (A Primer in Positive Psychology, Oxford Press, 2006).
For more information about personal growth programs and an example personal development plan, read Personal Development Program – Building Awareness.
Finding Life Purpose
There are many approaches to finding life purpose. All approaches, however, involve serious and honest self reflection and assessment. Life purpose is truly an inside job, a do-it-yourself project of utmost importance to life happiness.
The seeker of purpose in life will want to begin with what is known, asking and reflecting on the question, “What is my life purpose?” This reflection can include a meditation session or the conscious exercise of writing responses to the question. This online Meaning in Life Questionnaire may also be a helpful self-assessment.
What is Life Purpose?
In approaching the question of purpose in life, the personal growth planner may want to take a step back to consider the qualities or characteristics of life purpose. Though many people focus on social or employment activities when thinking of purpose, greater clarity will arise from understanding that life purpose is composed of a set of personal qualities that characterize a person at her best.
These qualities, or states of being, are present and in the forefront of a person fulfilling life purpose. Life purpose is primarily about whom a person is being while involved in life activities; activities that foster and support the person in utilizing the qualities that characterize purpose.
Life Purpose is Being Not Doing
States of being are the qualities one is displaying or feeling while engaged in activities. States of being are closely aligned with values and characteristics.
Examples are generosity, compassion, adventurous, curiosity, helpfulness, competitive, which are just a few of the hundreds of possible descriptors.
The Fail-safe Indicator of Life Purpose
Though life purpose is different for every person, there is one fail-safe indicator that everyone can depend upon to signal they are aligned with purpose. That indicator is positive emotion, the positive feelings one has when living a purposeful life.
Positive emotions always accompany life purpose. So self awareness of emotions is an important requirement for the personal development advocate seeking to find life purpose.
How to Practice Awareness
Self awareness is an important asset and skill for the personal development planner. Self awareness is the ability to observe oneself while carrying on normal daily activities. The self observation should include recognition of the emotions being felt, the qualities of personality being displayed, and the activities undertaken.
For example, when talking with a friend who is whining and complaining about her job, one might observe some tension and annoyance, some unspoken criticisms and advice, along with a spoken mild acknowledgment and half-hearted support one often gives when trying to move the conversation on to other topics.
Activities and Exercises for Finding Life Purpose
Though the core of life purpose is composed of qualities or characteristics of being, people experience meaning and purpose in life through activities. The following exercises are designed to provide insight into the activities currently well-aligned with purpose which will help identify the characteristics or qualities that comprise purpose.
- Qualities Admired in Others – Think of two people you greatly admire. What qualities of these people do you admire? These same qualities are aspects of your life purpose.
- Activities Bringing Joy – What activities bring you joy? Reflect on the qualities of personality you’re displaying while in these activities. These are components of your life purpose.
- Lottery Winner – Imagine you won a huge lottery one year ago and have bought everything you ever wanted. Now, with more money than you’ll ever be able to spend, consider what you’ll do with the rest of your life. What qualities are you displaying when that occurs?
- Writing Exercise – Finish this sentence: “My life purpose is…” Repeat this over and over until reaching a moment of great clarity, perhaps accompanied by strong emotions.
Putting Life Purpose in a Personal Development Plan
With greater clarity around life purpose, the personal growth planner will work to incorporate aspects of life purpose into daily activities. This may involve changing activities, modifying them, or adopting a different perspective toward existing life activities.