One of the areas I struggled the most with after graduating from college was figuring out my purpose in life.
I obtained my Bachelors’s, now what?
At the time, I figured the most appropriate path for me to follow was to work for a year before going to law school. Even though I never aspired to be a lawyer, my family encouraged me to do it as it appeared to be a “safe” profession.
However, once I started studying for the LSAT and speaking with law students and lawyers about the career, I realized this was not the path for me.
Once more, I found myself at a crossroads, trying to figure out what to do next. The job market was increasingly competitive, with more and more people with higher education degrees. What were my options?
Recently, when I decided to leave my job and start my own business, I realized I needed to reconnect with my purpose, goals, and dreams if I wanted to be successful. The truth is, we can’t accomplish anything in life if we don’t know where we are headed; our purpose is the goal, the steps to get there are the driving instructions.
In this article, I provide insight into the five key steps that helped me re-kindle my purpose and pinpoint my destination. I hope it enables you to find a way back to yourself and leads you to where you want to go.
1. Go for a Walk–Then Make a List
I know it sounds like two different activities, but when done in that order, trust me–it works. If your mind is anything like mine, then you probably have a case of the all too common “monkey brain.” Buddhists use this term for a constantly ruminating mind in the past or future, never in the present.
That’s where our walk comes in. Our walk is a kind of meditation, a moment to breathe and be in our bodies. This is when we will be mindful of where we are stepping (as to not fall) and aware of our surroundings. It is time to be fully present with ourselves.
A walk will help you organize your thoughts, mainly because this particular walk will have a purpose in itself–to discover what your goals are for the future. You will be digging deep inside your brain for your biggest hopes and dreams.
When you close your eyes, what do you imagine yourself doing?
Did you always want to be a photographer? A stay at home mom? Travel the world? Help people?
When you get home after your walk, immediately grab a piece of paper and a pen, and write down your thoughts. Make a list of absolutely every single thing you thought about wanting to pursue, starting with the one that caused you the most joy.
Then, at the end of the list, make sure you answer three key questions:
- What are my goals?
- What is it that you want to accomplish by making this change in your life?
- What is my “why”?
- Why are you doing this? What is the motor inspiring you to make this change?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- What do you want to get out of this? Is it more money, traveling, a different lifestyle, more time with your family?
Make sure to read this piece of paper to yourself every morning when you wake up and every evening when you go to sleep. Also, read it every time you feel discouraged from your dream to ensure you keep it alive!
2. Make Contact With Your Dream
It has been proven that our brains don’t always know the difference between reality and our thoughts. That’s why you can get scared just by thinking about something you fear or sad when you think about something that builds an emotional reaction in you.
Every day, subconsciously, we feed our brains tons of information. This information programs our brain and creates patterns and ingrained beliefs to accept certain realities as real. It also doesn’t allow your brain to receive new information for opportunities; for example, it can tell you something along the lines of “That sounds nice, but you can’t do it!”
For me, training my brain to be open to new opportunities and not instantly pick fear as a response has been a big project. It has been a driving force in allowing me to achieve great success in life.
That’s why a big part of re-kindling your purpose is to make your dream into something tangible.
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
It can be something as simple as driving by the house you’ve always wanted to purchase or visiting the car dealership and sitting in the driver’s seat of your dream car. For me, it was still going to the bookstore and imagining my book was on the best-seller shelf.
If you aspire to be a philanthropist or big-time donor, it might look like writing yourself a check and posting it in front of your refrigerator.
Your dreams are at your fingertips! Get out there and touch the butt!!! (For all you Finding Nemo lovers)
3. Change Your Every Day Language
It is our responsibility to set the stage in which we are going to grow. The way we talk to ourselves and to others is critical in determining where we are going in life. If you’re going to re-kindle your purpose, you need to be a human being who builds and uses language to make dreams.
Every day, think about all the positive things you have in your life, also think about all the positive attributes you possess. In the morning, instead of waking up and wishing the earth would swallow you whole because it’s 6 AM, say, “Thank you for another wonderful day of life!”
After a few days of using positive language, you’ll realize how much your reality changes. Here are some ideas for changes you can make:
“Ugh, it’s raining outside, and I’m going to be wet” to “It’s raining! What a wonderful day to wear colorful clothing or read a book indoors!”
“I am not advancing at the gym as fast as I want to; I am never going to achieve my weight-goals” to ” My body is already awesome. I’m trying my best at the gym. Soon I will reach my target weight-loss goals!”
“Today sucked, I didn’t get enough done, UGH tomorrow I have so much to do, Lord, how will I get everything done” to “Thank you for this wonderful day, I accomplished so much. Tomorrow will be an equally amazing day. I know I can tackle everything I set my mind to.”
4. See no Evil. Speak no Evil. Hear no Evil.
The “monkey brain” can only be tackled with intensive reinforcement. If we want to change our lives, we have to change what we see, hear, and say. We’ve already talked about language, so let’s concentrate on the other two.
- See No Evil: Books, Conferences, MoviesBooks: Reading books and seeing positive imagery is key to getting yourself into a “can-do” attitude. Look, I can have all the hopes and dreams I want, but if I’m not engaging in activities that support them, then I might as well be doing nothing. You need to program your brain into believing that you CAN.
- Books will help you visualize and speak to your brain. Like walking, reading is a form of meditation that speaks directly to your subconscious. If you are reading negative news all day, then that is what your subconscious will project in your life. However, if you concentrate on reading books that align with your purpose, then your brain will deliver you just that.
- Recommended reading: “Start With Why?” by Simon Senek, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable” by Seth Godin
- Conferences & Movies: Our brains need to see someone other than ourselves who has made it to where we want to be. This is where movies and seminars come in. They help you visualize the future and place yourself in it. Whenever I’m having a particularly off day, I often listen to TED conferences on repeat or watch “Joy.” It is a great way to say to my monkey brain, “Not today Satan, not today!”
- Podcasts and Positive AudioWhen I lived in Miami, I had a 4-hour commute. It drove me nuts. However, when I discovered the power of audiobooks, podcasts, and audio clips, my life transformed. Those 4 hours of hell were now 4 hours of continuous learning! Listening to stories, experiences, or even training on the go is an excellent way for our brain to absorb information. Pick a podcast or two attuned to your interests; listen to what people who have been through your journey say. I can assure you it’ll change your day!
5. Take a Break–Then, Make a Plan
You might be saying: “Hold up, Karla, I’m trying to jump into action here!”
I know you are, but I’m going to give you some advice I wish someone would’ve given me.
The most essential person in anything you do in life is yourself. If you’re not functioning correctly, absolutely NOTHING will. This is why self-care is so important.
The decision to pursue your dreams and goals is a HUGE one. It’s scary, lovely, and ultimately empowering and worth it.
Since what is coming is a series of significant changes, you need to be prepared. Take a break to meet your new self.
Give your body and mind permission to be distracted (not for long!), to feel, to let go, to cry, and to transition.
When I left my job, I made the mistake of not taking a break. I didn’t even take 2 days to decompress; I dove right into my next project. Later on, I was aching for that me-time I neglected. Instead, I was going through the processes in the midst of starting something new–it made it very difficult.
Once you’ve taken the time to get your insides in line, make an action plan! You’ve established your goals, your why, your reasons, now GO AFTER THEM! Make a detailed action plan with objectives for every week and month. Revise them, re-draw them, and see how your life progresses.
You Got This!
Try these five steps and let me know how they helped you get closer to your dream life! Most of all, remember that you CAN do anything you set your mind to; you deserve the life you always dreamed of having!
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”