Good news for those who have found their purpose: A recent study suggests you’ll probably live longer. In fact, you’ll have a 15 percent lower risk of death compared to those who consider themselves aimless. You’ll also be happier.
For those of us who haven’t: fear not. Research shows it doesn’t matter when you find your direction; it could be in your 20s, 50s or 70s.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Dan Parris who discovered his life purpose by asking himself two simple but powerful questions: What breaks my heart? What makes me come alive?
He went on to found his own business at 23, film six documentaries and has spent the past five years travelling the country to help others find theirs.
If the thought of defining your direction with two questions is overwhelming, below is a list of eight more to help you get there.
1. What did you love doing as a kid?
Think about your hobbies as a 10-year-old. Maybe it was dancing, drawing comics or playing piano. As an adult, so many times we get caught up in the value of an activity we love that we forget why we do it – for our simple enjoyment. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Just because a hobby doesn’t make us money (or some other reward or recognition) doesn’t mean we can’t do it (or enjoy it).
2. What issues do you hold close to your heart?
Similar to Parris’ question – What breaks your heart? – think about what topics pull your heartstrings when you open the newspaper. What speaks to you? What can you connect with? While you may not be able to change the world, you can make a difference. And that feeling of impact is what will ultimately contribute to that sense of fulfillment and happiness you’re looking for.
3. What makes you lose track of time?
We’ve all had moments where we get so caught up in something we forget to eat. Think about what holds your attention for hours on end and makes you forget about the world around you. And don’t just think about the activities but the elements that make up them.
4. What makes you happy?
Think about what makes you smile. Think about your hobbies. Think about the people you surround yourself with. What and who makes you happy? Another way to look at it…
5. What would you do if money wasn’t an object?
This may be the question that ends all questions: If you didn’t have to work, how would you choose to fill those hours? Maybe you’d spend your time reading, crafting, hiking or volunteering. Your answer most likely reflects what you do to unwind in the evenings. Take some time to do them more often.
6. What are you willing to struggle for?
Nothing in life comes easy; we all know that. Even if you’re living out your passion and doing something that comes natural to you, there will come a time when things don’t come so easily. Be up front and honest with yourself in determining if it’s worth the struggle.
7. What is your dream and how can you make it happen?
Too often we flood our minds with excuses of why we can’t do something: I don’t have the finances. I’m not good enough. I could fail. Think positive and determine what little steps you can take to get there. You’re the only one who can make your dream reality.
8. What would you regret not doing in life?
No one enjoys the topic of death, but I challenge you to go ahead and think about it. You’re on your deathbed: What do you want to be remembered for? What do you regret not doing or at least attempting? List your top two or three answers.
Have some clarity? Draft a plan and take the first step to living with purpose. Make this life count.