philosophy

The Four Most Important Questions in Finding One’s Purpose

FIRST PUBLISHED:

July 8, 2021

“Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most.”

– NAVAL RAVIKANT

The search for meaning and purpose is one of life’s great existential tasks. We may not realize that’s what we’re doing when we leave a job, relationship or city of origin, or when we marry, choose a new flat, give up a hobby, or begin a new fitness routine, but make no mistake, each one of us is searching for why we’re here, where we excel, what we enjoy and and where we belong, with almost every significant or small decision we make.

One of the areas of our lives where knowing our purpose can make a profound difference in both our success and our happiness is in the working world. Many people believe that work is only a way to make a living, but it can also be an expression of our talents and ideals, and one of the ways we can have the greatest impact on our world.

You see, we’re each born with a unique combination of gifts, talents, skills, abilities, likes and dislikes, and working with this raw material we can find our own unique genius – one that is not duplicatable by anyone else – and one which will make us a market of one, without any true competition. It is also what both you and the world need most, as we humans are designed to contribute in order to be happy, and there is no one else who is built specifically to deliver what only you can deliver towards the greater good.

But how are we to find our own unique brand of genius? And is it specific, like being a surgeon, painter or furniture builder, or is it general, and applicable to any field we choose, like optimism, resilience or analytical skills? Most likely, it’s a combination of the two, but our life’s work is to uncover and understand who we genuinely are, and what motivates us, and to continue correcting course until we’ve found our niche. 

For some of us, this happens at a very early age. For others, it may be during college, in middle age, or even later in life. The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter how long it takes, or how many tries one has had. We’re on the path, and we’ll get there, if only we don’t give up.
The equation we’ve found that’s most helpful toward reaching the point of purpose, is almost entirely based on the book The Power of Purpose, by Richard Leider, and it is:

G + P + V + N = P

(gifts + passions + values + need = purpose)

To breakdown the process of finding purpose, we can begin by asking ourselves the following questions to crack the code:

  1. What am I good at? List both hard and soft skills here – i.e. math, leadership, teaching, computer programing, painting, emotional intelligence, etc.
  2. What do I enjoy? Again, both hard and soft skills, and also hobbies, and lifestyle skills, such as pilates, cooking, makeup application, supporting others, dancing, business acumen, organization, parenting, networking, etc.
  3. What ethos do I live by? Things like sustainability, spirituality, self discipline, social justice, etc., are important to take into account. What do you believe in with all of your being?
  4. What does the world need? Where are the greatest needs in the world right now, in your opinion? And where are the opportunities for your unique set of skills, talents, values and passions to make a difference?

It’s helpful to sketch out a Venn diagram to find the overlap in the answers to these questions, and that’s where we’ll find the raw materials of our true calling.

Next, and with a completely open mind, start imagining and listing the careers which could be made from the overlap – make them up if they don’t yet exist, and don’t rule anything out, until you’ve explored it thoroughly, as this is where giant leaps in creativity and innovation can be made.

This is a very good place to say that the important part of this exercise isn’t what the answers are, but in learning what the answers are – and in coming to know ourselves even better, so we can begin to fill the place that’s waiting for us, and that the world so badly needs us to fill.

We wish you the best in your quest for meaning and purpose.

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