7 Words That Can Help You Figure Out Your Life’s Purpose

April 26, 2016, 4:01 PM UTC
Businesswoman looks across city at sunrise
Photograph by Ezra Bailey via Getty Images

Every month I coach dozens of young people from around the globe who have no idea what they’re doing with their lives how to better plan their careers. Having found a number of common threads, I’ve put together some guidance for anyone seeking to determine their life’s purpose. Here are the main concepts to consider, distilled into seven key words:

1. Wants.

Most of my clients have no idea what they want. Some have a story they tell themselves about what they’re doing or what they’re planning to do next, but they have no idea what they REALLY want.

What we really want can usually be identified once we stop censoring ourselves, trying to come up with an answer that sounds prestigious or glamorous or reflects what we think is economically feasible or what our family wants. I tell everyone: get all those things out of your head and then give yourself to the count of three to answer as quickly as possible “What do I want in life?” Nine times out of 10, that’s your answer.

Until you know what you want, no one else can help you get there. The first step starts in ruthlessly identifying what that is

2. Fear.

If you still can’t come up with what you really want out of life, a good place to start is by examining what you’re scared of. I strongly believe that fear tells us what we should be doing and the most successful people proceed directly into what scares them.

Like most humans, everyone I work with is very scared of something – of many things actually. Instead of backing down in the face of those things, we tackle them head on. We look at it like, this is a lot of good stuff to put on your radar and start learning about how you roll in the fear zone.

Go where you’ll grow, and you’ll grow most when you’re really freaked out about something.

3. Service.

If that doesn’t get the ball rolling, look for opportunities to give. What do you have that you can share with the world, regardless of monetary compensation? What can you teach others? Where might just your physical presence be a gift to someone in need?

Most unhappy people are living selfish lives without looking at the simplest question of all: What can I give to someone else? Today. Now. Whenever you feel lost, give, share, and love.

4. Connection.

I find that many people who feel stuck in life are failing to actively and strategically connect with others. Once I identify what someone wants, the next step is to make a list of all the people who can help him or her achieve it and then start methodically connecting with all of those people, personally asking each one for help or otherwise shamelessly putting their talents out there in front of them.

Again, most people are terrified to do this. And of course we must figure out how to do it appropriately and with a value proposition. We first need to work on our self-confidence to make it a reality. The fear of connecting with important people in a field of interest is precisely what holds us back from reaching the top.

5. Stillness.

People tend to seriously underestimate the value of silence and stillness in their lives. They run around at 100 miles per hour every day, ingesting so much information and stimulation but never giving it time to settle in.

I tell each and every person I work with to sit and be completely still for half an hour every night before bed, a sacred time to turn off all the devices, get into pajamas, prepare the mind for rest, reflect on the day, and let the mind digest how the day shifted things around in its inner chambers. The heart can’t speak while the body is moving and the mind is restless, so we have to take these three steps: still the body, quiet the mind, and listen to the heart. Every day.


6. Acting.

Most people are faking it. You have to do the same. You will feel one way – and most of the time it’s your animal brain screaming out in fear or laziness – but to go anywhere, you can’t just do what you feel like doing. Act like the person you dream of being, and eventually you’ll get there.

7. Miracle.

Researchers estimate that the likelihood of YOU being born to your parents, with your set of DNA, in this particular moment in history – considering all the history of warfare and natural destruction and utter chaos – is about 1 in 400 trillion. Everything that has ever happened in the universe has brought you to this moment now. Once you wrap your head around that fact, it’s hard to sit back and feel sorry for yourself or let fear stop you from delivering on what you’re very clearly here for a reason to deliver to us. Your life is a miracle. So is mine. Now let’s act accordingly.