Life Purpose: Passions and Interests
When trying to understand our life purpose, our passions and interests are a key component.
There are many things that we absolutely love to do. For me it was listening to classical music and playing the piano. These are the things we are naturally drawn to them, and when engaged in them we lose ourselves and get 'into the flow of it.'
Other passions can rile us up. Yes, we are motivated by anger as much as any other motivation. If we are appalled by injustice we often choose a path of activism to 'right the wrongs'.
In both cases, the phenomenon is motivation and the thing that motivates us is the values we hold.
In short, a value is any concept or meaning that we deem to be important. These values can be fairly primitive such as the need for food and water, and we are motivated to acquire these things.
Alternatively, these values can be quite high up in our consciousness, such as 'Life, Liberty and The Pursuit Of Happiness'. These are often regarded as 'Rights' and are associated with the social and political climate.
In relation to your purpose in life, it pays to examine the things that motivate you the most, and which you have no trouble doing.
If you find yourself unmotivated and thus wondering about your life's purpose, then there are 6 things you need to examine in order to find your passions and interests.
Factor 1: Childhood Wonders And Life Purpose
To understand our life purpose we must consider our childhood wonders. Can you remember being fascinated by things when you were a small child? Often these things are the key to what you intrinsically love doing, even if you no longer do these things as an adult.
Just the other day I was at a family gathering to celebrate my grand-niece's 1st birthday. She is at the stage where just about everything takes her fancy, and the one thing she does is love music and does a little dance any time she hears it. Of course my sister and nephew claim she'll be a musician or dancer when she grows up, but I'm more circumspect about it!
Nevertheless, it is at this stage in life where there is no inhibition on the things that are 'a natural wonder'. All those things happen later in life.
Often the child in us is called 'The True You' - it is the person you are before your parents and other social factors started to influence you.
So as a thought experiment, ask yourself a few questions:
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- Write down a few things that you absolutely loved to do - from activities, to food, to places you went, or anything else you can remember.
- List as many reasons you can WHY you loved it.
Factor 2: Current Passions and Values
If you're like most people, you probably have a number of things that really fire you up. To understand how your current passions determine your life purpose here is a list of questions to ask yourself. Answer as many as possible, then grade them on a scale of 1 to 10.
Here are a few guidelines:
- What do you/would you like to spend your time on?
- What do you/would you like spend your money on?
- How do you/would you fill your space?
- How do you/would you spend your energy?
- Where are you the most organised?
- Where are you the most disciplined?
- What do you think about the most?
- What do you envision the most?
- What do you talk to yourself about the most?
- What do you talk to others about the most?
- What inspires you the most?
- What do you set as goals the most?
- What do you read or study the most?
After doing this exercise, what did you discover?
Which had the highest score?
Which had the lowest score?
Factor 3: Life Purpose and Wider Values
We all have values that relate to ourselves and our immediate family, but we also have wider values for others and the rest of humanity. For some people their passion drives them to become advocates or activists for a cause. If this applies to you, then consider the questions below:
- What would you like to change in the world?
- In what way can you BE the change in the world?
- What do you 'stand for?'
- Are you prepared to sacrifice your personal values for the wider good?
Factor 4: Your Dreams - what do you really want?
If you found yourself in Factor 2 above asking 'I would like to' instead of 'I do...' then your activities are not matched to your values. In other words you have a values conflict - 2 or more values that do not agree with each other.
For instance, you really love walking in the mountains but your job keeps you behind a desk all day. Being in a job satisfies one value (such as you basic needs of food, clothing and shelter) but conflicts with another value - perhaps the need to explore and enjoy the natural world.
Ask yourself these questions:
- If I could have anything I want, what would it be?
- If I could do anything I want, what would it be?
Did you feel comfortable wanting things for yourself?
I suggest you ask these questions of yourself just before bed time - sort of like setting your unconscious mind some homework. Let it work on them overnight and very often it will help you out with little conscious effort on your part.
If you can remember your dreams, then they are a sign from your subconscious mind of what you really want, and are a very good clue to what is your life's purpose.
Factor 5: Your Gifts and Talents - What you have to offer
Often you feel the most passionate and alive when you are 'doing what you were made for'. By definition these talents are innate and you barely have to think to do them.
Whilst we'll consider these in more detail in the next article, below is a list of qualities that are generally regarded as 'good qualities'. Copy the list to a spreadsheet or document, add more as appropriate, then select the ones that apply to you:
Here are few more questions:
- When are you most yourself?
- What makes you feel 'in flow?'
- What comes easy to you that may be hard for others?
Factor 6: Are you committed?
After examining the above 5 factors, how committed are you to them? It may be easy to say 'oh yes, I want more money' but are you committed to making that a reality?
Make a list of the aspects of life that you are most committed to.
Next, make a list of the values, gifts and passions that you are committed to.
Finally, ask yourself the question: 'What would it take for me to live in integrity with these'
Once you ask these questions, you are well on your way to discovering your life purpose.