Why are you here? What is your purpose in this life? Have you ever asked this question? No? Maybe you should. How do you expect to be happy and live a rich life if you don’t know what do you want, why do you want it, and how do you get it? This is the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. And no, the answer is not “42”. To get the real answer try to examine two things governing your life behind the scenes: your values and your passions.
What do you know about yourself? There are some core values that tell you how to act, what is right and wrong, who to be friend with and what priorities to focus on. How do you find your core values? You need to go deep into yourself to find out. The best way would be with a help of a life coach but you can try to use one of these simple approaches to get started.
Find yourself a quiet and relaxing place where you can think. Answer these questions and don’t let the first obvious answer stop you, always dig deeper and try to understand “why”.
- The Animal Exercise – let us say you could transform to an animal. Which one would it be? Now, close your eyes and imagine that you are the animal. Why? What does it bring to you? How do you feel? Why is it important to you? What environment are you in? What actions do you take? What skills do you use? What values govern your life?
- The Peak Moments Exercise – Pick couple of moments from your life where you felt great and happy. Get back to the moment and feel it. Why was it so special? Where were you? What did you do? Why did you do it? Who did you were with? Consider all the examples and ask yourself: What were the common values in all these peak moments of your life? Why do you consider them the best?
- The Remote Island Exercise – Imagine you get marooned on a remote tropical island. What three friends would you take with you? And why these three in particular? What qualities they have? Why are they so special to you? What values should the best friend have? What three things would you take? What three books or movies? And always ask why these books, why these movies. What do they have in common that makes you like them? What values they represent?
Select the exercise that you feel would work for you. Don’t rush it. Try to find the values behind values. Don’t let the first obvious answer stop you. For example, if you say you would take with you to the island a credit card loaded with money and the answer to “why” is “So I can buy stuff.” Don’t stop there. Dig deeper and examine why you want to buy stuff, what does it bring? Maybe you discover that it is not about buying stuff but there is some deeper value that just manifests this way.
Examine what are the things and activities you are passionate about. Asks yourselves these questions:
- What are the things that make me happy?
- What are the things that make me enthusiastic?
- What are the things that make me act?
And again don’t stay on the surface but get deeper. Let me give you an example of one of my passions. I just love seeing people around me grow and learn new things. When I see that a person on my team accomplished something great that pushed him to the next level of a particular skill it makes me genuinely happy and fills me with energy. When there is a discussion about developing people and growing the team I’m the first one to speak. When there is a need to work on developmental plans or performance improvements I’m the first one to raise my hand and get involved. All this indicates a real passion for working with people, growing and leading teams. When I know this about myself it is easy to get more of it into my life. I can steer my career in the direction that gives me the opportunity to use this passion.
If you focus on both values and the passions you will discover that they are overlapping, they support and enhance each other. In my case the passion for helping people grow would overlap with my value of usefulness (doing something that matters and being useful to others). So think! What are your passions? And when you discover them how can you get more of them into your life? If you are in a job that is not aligned with your passions you should consider how to get at least a small piece of them to your current tasks. Gradually, it will expand. It is a natural progress. Because it is your passion you will be really good at it, others will notice and will give you even more opportunities to utilize it.
What is your answer to the question? Why are you here? How do you know it is the real reason?
By the way, if you didn’t get the joke about “the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything” and the answer “42” I suggest you read a hilarious book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy written by Douglas Adams or watch the series of the same title produced by BBC.