Are you frustrated because you can’t quite figure out what you are meant to do with your life? Are you struggling as you grapple and search for your purpose in life?
You are not the only one.
Finding your life purpose is probably the biggest question we can ever ask.
Human beings have been pondering this since the dawn of enlightenment, and it’s a question that my clients have the hardest time with.
No Longer A Mid-Life Crisis
There was a time not too long ago when the whole “Why am I here?” dilemma was strictly a middle-aged issue.
It was the reserve of the mid-life crisis and something to be embarrassed about.
I remember friends coming to school and somberly announcing that their parents were breaking up.
It caused huge consternation in their family and was usually because one parent had met someone else or “found themselves” through therapy, a new hobby, a vacation or by trying to better themselves through university like in the film “Educating Rita”.
For a young Asian girl growing up in a traditional culture, it all seemed very strange to me. Divorce was, and still is to a large extent, unusual in my culture.
So the idea of parents destroying their happy homes to pursue their dreams sounded selfish and irresponsible.
But as I’ve got older and experienced break-ups, break-downs and breakthroughs myself I’ve noticed that age is no barrier to seeking your life purpose. Neither is background, religion, race or your current level of success.
The inner yearning to discover your life’s purpose is a human condition that has become more common in recent years and can strike anyone at any time.
This search for meaning or existential anxiety as it’s called affects teenagers, twenty-somethings, professionals in their thirties, couples in their forties and upwards.
For sensitive souls, creatives or anyone striving to “get more life” out of their lives, it will probably happen sooner rather than later.
Finding Your Purpose In Life
There are several reasons why you may be struggling to truly define your life purpose but the four main ones go something like this:
- You doubt that you will ever find your purpose
- You are afraid that no one will pay you for your work if you followed your heart
- You are scared to risk your financial security to discover what it is
- You are concerned that other people won’t support you in your search
While all of these anxieties and others I haven’t mentioned may stop you from finding meaning and fulfillment in your life, they point to a deeper issue that could be preventing you from living a life you love.
If you’re like most people, the thing that’s keeping you from truly understanding your purpose in life is very likely the fear that others will judge you if you have the courage to explore who you really are.
I know this because I lived my life like this for many years.
I was born into a culture that prescribed how my life should be.
Down to every small detail I was told how to dress, what to eat, what to think, even the kind of person I should marry. My parents were afraid of being judged by our community or becoming the subject of local gossip.
What other people thought of us pervaded our home like a bad smell. So it’s no surprise that this dogma colored my early years and turned me into a dutiful daughter.
It influenced how I lived and what I expected for myself. I never dared to dream big dreams because pretty much everything was laid out for me.
In fact it was only when I left home at the age of 18 to go abroad that I started to see life differently.
With no one to dictate to me, I discovered a love for culture, history, art, architecture and the great outdoors I never knew existed. I met interesting people, men and women, young and old, who had done amazing things. All of a sudden I began imagining a different kind of life for myself.
Away from prying eyes and with no one to judge me, I felt free for the first time ever.
This experience changed my life and started a chain of events that have helped me discover my purpose in life.
I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity but I know too many people, especially women, who are held back by the fear of being judged and who shrink themselves and hide their light in order to fit in.
We Fear Being Judged
The fear of judgment and condemnation from others is a big hurdle for many people.
It holds sway in some cultures more than others, but it affects us all because we learn as children to look outside ourselves for approval.
We know we shouldn’t care about people’s opinions but it’s very easy to let them ruin our life.
Being judged can make you retreat into a shell and rob you of your talent and gifts so that you never live up to your potential.
It can create tension inside you because you spend your life doing what’s expected just to avoid disapproval from others.
Sadly, this tame existence often comes at a cost.
You end up staying in a loveless relationship too long, you remain trapped in a dangerous domestic situation or you tolerate a soul-crushing career that you were never meant to waste your life on.
More than anything else, you lose your excitement for life.
Do not allow this to happen to you.
Overcome The Fear Of Judgement
The good news is that like any fear, the fear of being judged can be conquered.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if you want to live your life on purpose you must conquer your fear of what other people think and say about you.
Because your life is precious and worth so much more than the opinions of others.
I did it and so can you.
It didn’t happen overnight. It was a journey, and like every great journey, it started with a single step.
I began meditating. I started listening more and more to what my heart was telling me. I developed a thicker skin in the face of criticism and negativity. I let old friends go and started hanging out with new people who were also building their dreams.
Finding your purpose in life is not about massive, overnight action.
It’s about giving yourself permission to explore life and become the person you were born to be.
Step by step.
And it takes time.
So the sooner you start investing in your own happiness and stop worrying about what other people think, the sooner you’ll gain clarity about your purpose in life.
Here are four suggestions to help you overcome the fear of judgement and find your purpose in life.
How To Find Your Life Purpose
1. Spend Some Time Alone
If you’re in search of your life purpose, you don’t know who you are. Not yet. And not completely.
Take some time to discover the person who resides inside your heart and soul.
This may be scary at first because so many of us are afraid to be alone with our thoughts. It’s much easier to get lost in “busy work” and tell ourselves that this is more important.
But taking some time out is a necessary step to getting to know yourself better.
Keep a notebook on you at all times to jot down your thoughts and ideas, especially when you are out. Or better still, start a journal and write in it every morning or last thing at night.
2. Meditate Consistently
This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include meditation.
Believe it or not, you already have all the answers to every question you will ever ask.
Your soul, your higher self, your subconscious mind – whatever you wish to call it is as old as the universe and knows you intimately.
When you meditate you open up the lines of communication between your conscious and your subconscious mind. Your inner world is vaster than the World Wide Web so why not tap into this internal resource as readily as you type into Google?
The best mentors and teachers are not those who give you all the answers but those who remind you of your own power. Remember this when you seek other people’s advice in your quest to find your purpose in life and your place in the world.
Always go within first.
3. Avoid Negative People
As you start living more authentically and uncovering your life purpose, you need to be extra vigilant about whom you share your ideas with.
Not everyone will understand your excitement. The chances are that some people will be against you.
I recommend you start by ending relationships with any toxic people in your life who criticize you, judge you and try and knock you down.
Such people are usually resentful of what you are doing because it reminds them of their own lack of success.
They deliberately try and find something wrong with you in order to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy.
You don’t need them and they don’t deserve you so let them go without any feelings of guilt or remorse.
It gets a bit trickier if these people are family members. Unfortunately you have no choice over the family you end up with.
While you can’t cut them out of your life, you can put some distance between yourself.
I like the way Bob Proctor puts it; Don’t visit as often and when you do, don’t stay as long!
At other times, you may find yourself growing apart from friends you loved spending time with.
This has happened to me a few times over the years and while it’s sad when it happens, realize that it’s necessary for your personal growth.
4. Don’t Judge Others
Life is cause and effect.
Whatever we put out, we get back.
If you are afraid of being judged by others, maybe you should stop judging other people?
Start to notice where your attention goes during the day. Are you constantly criticizing and complaining about other people?
Become aware of your own judgements and check yourself the next time such thoughts arise. With a bit of work and self-discipline you will start to develop compassion for others.
As you practice being non-judgmental, the opinions of others will steadily lose their importance in your own life and you will attract judgement less often.
Don’t let others people’s opinions of you and what you are doing hold you back from discovering your life purpose.
We can’t live our lives for others and we can never please everyone all the time.
It’s OK to strive for your own happiness.
Many people get hung up on finding their life purpose but it’s important to understand that it’s not something you “find”.
Your life purpose will reveal itself to you over time.
It’s something only you are meant to do because each one of us is unique with a special gift to share with the world.
It will find you, not the other way round.
Start by deciding who you want to be and finding out what you’re passionate about. Take action and keep moving forwards by doing the next step that presents itself.
Over To You
Do you believe we all have a purpose in life? Are you doing what you love right now – why or why not? Please share your thoughts below.