In a Boston Globe article from 2014, a Tampa market research firm, Marketdata, claimed that $549 million a year is spent on self-help books with diet books leading the charge. I have spent some of those dollars on books like how to be a better husband, a better manager of time, an essentialist, someone who knows his strengths and much more. There is a reason that Rick Warren’s book has sold over 30 million copies since its release in 2002.
I believe that people want to know their purpose — do you?
Discovering my purpose has fueled the desire for me to help others know theirs, but it wasn’t always that way. Growing up, I loved watching the stars of the silver screen win at business, woo women and grow their finances exponentially. In my adolescent mind, I believed it was pretty simple. If you wanted success, the opportunities would find you because you deserved them. Yes, I did understand that I had to work, but I didn’t realize all the work it would require and that entitlement was not a top character quality.
One of my favorite movies growing up (and still one I enjoy today) was the 1987 flick, Secret of My Success, directed by Herbert Ross.
I thought my purpose was to be like Michael J. Fox’s character, Brantley Foster/Carlton Whitfield. I would get to the first company I was employed by and make it to the top. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and didn’t know my purpose. I switched jobs about four times in my first twenty-four months after graduating from college. Because I wasn’t happy with my standing, I worked hard but I also cheated, stole, manipulated to get ahead. Compared to the movie, my future was bleak.
Lacking purpose and direction, I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy at 25 in 2002. It was like movie’s theme song (from the band, Night Ranger) said, “Worlds collide and hearts will be broken.” The real world and my fantasy world had collided and reality won. My broken heart was one of the symptoms to a bigger problem — I didn’t know my purpose.
Believing that God has a purpose for us can be difficult. It was for me until I hit rock bottom and thought there had to be something more than life as I was living. Taking the time to discover and know your purpose can be a monumental task, but do not let it intimidate you. Here are the four ways you can know your purpose:
1. Complete a study, curriculum or program
These are tools created to serve you over a course of a few weeks or months. They provide a framework for self or group study. I like workbooks because they are a nice blend of reading and doing. I get the sense of accomplishment as I complete the blanks.
These have blessed me in my life:
- 48 Days to the Work You Love (Dan Miller)
- I Am: Your Identity and Positive Choice Workbook (William F. Morris)
- Crossroads Career Workbook : 7 steps to jobs, careers and God’s calling (Brian Ray)
2. Read & Write Regularly
The Holy Bible
Being a person of faith, I find when I read the Bible the words are speaking to me in a different way each time I read them. Guided by the Holy Spirit, I am led to words that help me daily as I read them. If you have chose to follow Jesus, read Matthew 22:37-39, for a great word of purpose for believers.
Other books to help you with your purpose:
- The Purpose Driven-Life by Rick Warren
- Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
- Halftime by Bob Buford
Purchase a journal. Call it your Purpose Journal. Use it to take notes, write quotes or jot down thoughts that grab you during your reading. If you are like me, it is tempting to finish the book quickly and skip the thought-provoking questions at chapter’s end. I implore you to do them! Fill up a notebook and watch the creativity flow!
3. Invest in Assessments
These are low-cost tools that provide outstanding insight, perspective, encouragement and affirmation. They will affirm you in the obvious, position you in your strengths and encourage you in your interactions with others of the same and different personality style or strength. All-in-all, these are good tools to show you how God created you, gifted you and placed you in your home, work or community. Examples are DISC, Communique and Strength Finders 2.0
4. Find a Mentor or Life Coach
This is so crucial in life. Choose someone around you who you respect and who is further ahead of you in life, not necessarily in age, but in their purposeful progress. A mentor can listen to you, provide you with great resources, pray for you with you around or not, challenge you, provide perspective and as I need often, provide a swift kick in the rear.
A life coach can also be effective for you because they can guide you through a process that is proprietary to them or a system they found works for those who have come to them for counsel. A good life coach will provide accountability, emotionally-detached insight and encouragement. The mentor and life-coach will believe in you even in your worst day.
It’s Time to Take the Time!
Knowing our purpose is a life-long discovery process. It’s work, no doubt. No matter at what age you are reading this, you have not arrived. How God shapes one’s purpose looks different for each of us. It will take time to know your purpose, so take the time.
Use the 4 tools mentioned above and begin living a life on-purpose!
Question: What is keeping you from exploring the 4 Ways to Know Your Purpose? You can leave a comment by clicking here.