Something we’re not taught in school is that we’re all unique and that if we want to feel fulfilled and happy, we should contribute to this world in a way that suits our values and nourishes our soul (or inner being). Instead we are taught to identify which square shaped box we can best fit into, even if we are squeezed and shoved into one that fits other people’s ideas of what sort of career or lifestyle we should have.
This form of ongoing socialisation that we have received since young is really very imprisoning and such a load of rubbish! I see just how much it has suffocated the happiness of some of my clients. Many have a tug of war between doing what they want to do and being themselves, and doing what they think society expects them to do, as though their values and desires don’t count.
Speak to anyone who is truly happy and fulfilled and they will tell you that they live a life that matches their values and caters to their uniqueness; their life achievements and ongoing life direction will also be congruent with the values they hold dear.
Whether through a career, voluntary work, charitable role or a hobby, we can all increase the level of happiness, pride and satisfaction we feel, by living to our core values and living out our life’s purpose. To contribute positively to our loved ones and mankind at large, we should live a life that caters to our values and individuality.
So What Is Your Life Purpose? What Does That Even Mean!?
What is your life purpose is the existential question of why you are on this planet. The premise underlying it is that we are all on this planet to play a unique contributory role.
If that is too “out there” for you to embrace at this station in your life, at the very least identify the values that are important to you so that you may live a life that makes you feel happy, proud and fulfilled. When you know which values you want to live your life by, your life’s direction will become much clearer and you’ll find decision making much easier.
Clarifying Your Values For Better Decision Making and Life Direction
Invariably, we make decisions in life that will help us to avoid pain and/or help us to gain pleasure. Think of any decisions you have recently made, big or small, and at the root of them will ultimately be some sort of pain avoidance or pleasure seeking.
When we know which values we want to live our day to day life by, we will make decisions that match our internal drive for happiness and a sense of pride and fulfilment. So, do the following:
- Step 1: Identify which values you want to consistently work towards (‘towards-values’).
- Step 2: Identify which values you want to consistently work away from (‘away-from-values’).
- Step 3: Prioritise your towards-values in order of importance to you.
- Step 2: Prioritise your away-from-values in order of importance to you.
Aim to have a list of about 7-10 for each.
Example towards-values: love, contribution, commitment, freedom, achievement, loyalty, thoughtfulness, efficiency, calmness, assertiveness, serenity, perfectionism, expertise, fitness (and many more).
Example away-from-values: anger, pessimism, rejection, humiliation, failure, suppression, oppression, loneliness, violence, naivety, rigidity, obscurity, insecurity (and many more).
How Do I Identify Values Important To Me?
Your question may now be, how do I identify which values are important for me to work towards or away from? Reflect on your life’s numerous experiences and you will identify which values are important to you; just think about what has driven you in the past and the positive or negative outcomes you have gotten and which gave you immense pain and immense pleasure. The ones that made you feel happy and fulfilled and the ones that made you feel unhappy and unfulfilled will lead you to indentifying your values, those you want to list in Steps 1 and 2, and the order of priority for Steps 3 and 4.
Now follow Steps 1 to 4. Once you have devised your two lists in order of priority, keep copies in places you will see them, and actively remind yourself of them and use them for navigating your life from this point on.
How Do I Find My Life Purpose?
When you know your values, you will also be better able to identify your life purpose by knowing which boxes can be ticked by each career or hobby or charitable endeavour you’re considering.
Discovering your life purpose requires introspection which leads to a clear understanding of:
a) your strengths and weaknesses,
b) “weakness” that would be strengths in the right field, and
c) the values you want to work away from and the values you want to work towards.
Once you know which life paths will satisfy those strengths, “weaknesses” and value drives, you can plan a life that will make you feel happy, proud and fulfilled! What’s more, decision making will become much simpler on a minute-to-minute basis.
Now, be aware that you may have conflicting values that make you feel stuck, for example, a desire for freedom and a desire for stability may not always go hand-in-hand, and may cause an internal conflict that stops you moving forward. For this reason you want to remember two things:
- the order of priorities in your away-from-values and towards-values lists will determine the decisions you make, and
- you can, at any time, mindfully create new lists with different priorities and/or different values, so that you devise lists based on what you want to achieve in your future (now you have greater clarity) rather than basing your lists purely on what you have achieved in your past.
Remember, the values you have lived by thus far have gotten you to this station in your life. Your relationships, career, health, achievements and spirituality have all been determined by your values and level of self-awareness. The values you need to get you back on the train and towards the next station in life may need to be different in order for you to continue, or increase, your feelings of happiness and life satisfaction!