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Finding Your Life Purpose Part 8 – Life Changing Events And Experiences

Life Purpose: Life Changing Events

This article examines how life changing experiences and events can influence or otherwise contribute to your life purpose.

Life Changing Events and Your Life Purpose

By now you will have gained an understanding of a number of factors that may help define your life purpose.

Another important factor is 'life changing' experiences and events.

In my own life, there were several such events. When I was about 9 or 10, our family moved to England whilst my father undertook training to become a dermatologist.

Life in the UK was significantly different to that in Australia. The attitudes of the local people in the High Wycombe area were less optimistic about life and they were very class conscious.

Adelaide, by comparison, had been optimistic and egalitarian in its outlook. 

Later on we moved back to Australia and I went to a private school. My experience there was not pleasant as I was bullied by my fellow students. 

Whilst these 2 examples are themselves not the complete picture of my life, they are part of the stonework of my life.

They formed part of my world view and contributed to things such as my beliefs and values.

No doubt you also have similar things happen in your life that, upon reflection, played a significant part on how your life has turned out and how you view the world.

They become part of your identity and contribute to your sense of purpose.

Now if you are confused about your life purpose, it would pay you to look at your life as a time-line. By doing so, you can be more objective about the events when presented in a sequence from past to present.

You may notice that events form a pattern or sequence that appears to move you towards a certain place. 

A good analogy is when you see a movie and you get the feeling you know what's going to happen before it does. Can you see a pattern with your life? Can you see what the logical next step would be?

Life Changing Events -  Exercise 1

A good exercise is to make a list (or spreadsheet) of all the significant events in your life, from birth to the present. 

Once you have these in place, make a summary based on groups of years. For instance, if you moved many times before you were 16, then sum up by saying "0-16: moved many times"

Carry this through for the different age groups: 0-16, 17-21, 22-30, 31-40, 41-50, etc.

By the way you can use your own grouping structure here if this is appropriate.

Once you have completed this process, put an asterix against key events, negative experiences, turning points and influential people.

Then answer the following questions:

  • What were the turning points in your life?
  • Are there any patterns you can detect?
  • What lesson(s) did you learn?
  • Is there a lack of closure in any of these events?
  • What events had a clear point of closure?
  • How were you energised?
  • What values changed?
  • Do you get the idea that you've 'been in training' for a certain event?
  • What does it seem that your life has been focusing on?
  • Which events stand out?
Alvin Toffler

Life Changing Events - Exercise 2

If you had trouble with the question on values, you might want to answer the following questions to clarify what these are. Give 3 answers to each of the questions below:

  1. What do you love to talk about?
  2. What do you love to research?
  3. Which ideas to you love to act upon?
  4. What do you love to contemplate?
  5. Which things do you know a lot about?
  6. For each of the answers to the above (1-5), pick the one answer that most inspires you.
  7. From the above questions (1-5), what feelings do you get from each?

The above should give you a handle on your values and which things are the most important to you.

You can then look at these in the context of your timeline, asking the question: "how did these change for event x," etc.

When I look back on my own life, I see a series of events that in themselves were either significant or insignificant.

However, when they are considered together, they provide a logical progression to where I am now in my life.

By doing so yourself, you will also come to this conclusion, and your life will take on its own meaning and purpose.

And in this you will achieve closure, particularly when you factor in the other parts we have already discussed.

Where To From Here?

In the next article we will consider all that we have discussed - Childhood Influences, Passions and Skills, Personality, Coincidences, Beliefs and Life Changing Events - and put it all together to help you clarify your life purpose.

Finally in the last article we will help you write your Life Manifesto.

Further Reading

In '5 Life-Changing Events That Can Shake Us To Our Core', Barbara Hannah Grufferman discusses how turning a significant age (such as 40 or 50) can have profound effects on our lives - both in a positive and negative way.

Coming Next: Clarifying Your Life Purpose

Previous Article In This Series: Beliefs