Are you one of those people who grew up knowing exactly what you wanted to do, worked diligently towards that goal, and are now reaping the rewards? Me neither. Few of us did. In fact many of us still don't know what we're meant to be doing with our lives.
This feeling of uncertainty about finding your calling gets worse as you get older. You want a life with meaning but still haven't found that one thing that you can commit to that you feel will make a difference. You see others pursuing what you think should be your calling but it’s not where you want to be - to follow that path would be inauthentic.
How then do you have a life with purpose when you don't know what that purpose is? How can you set goals when you don't know what you're trying to achieve? But you do know what you’re trying to achieve – a life with meaning, and for that there are three simple goals you can start working on immediately.
1. Be Healthy
You only get one skin suit on this spirit journey, and the better you look after it the better company you'll be to yourself and your fellow travellers.
Being healthy means nourishing all areas of your life – mind, body and spirit. Learning about and seeking out healthier options in your nutrition, exercise, rest, meditation, and positive self talk.
If motivation is a challenge for you remember your purpose – to have a meaningful life. Shift your focus to the greater good and think about healthy changes that can also benefit others in the long term. Replacing snack foods with extra vegetables, walking instead of taking the car, writing in a journal and getting a few extra hours sleep instead of consuming electronic content will help you and the planet.
Most of all, be your own bestie and treat yourself well. We know how empty words can seem if actions don’t reinforce them, so start doing kind things for yourself – eat healthy food, give your body the exercise it thrives on, pamper yourself with a soothing bath or massage.
Continually making small improvements can have an amazing impact on your your health, and being healthy will help you in achieving goal number two.
2. Be Happy
Do you know it's actually OK to be happy? In fact we're much more fun to be around when we are. Too many well scripted TV series make us think that life should be full of drama and conflict. That works well to keep people tuning in each week but it's not how real life should be.
Forget about what everyone else is up to and do that thing that brings you joy. Can't remember what that is? Then think back to what you loved doing as a kid. If you still can't think of something then go out and try as many different things that you can. You'll get new experiences, meet new people, find out exactly what you don't like, and you may discover that thing you love on the way.
Another path to happiness is through mindfulness. Simply being totally present in whatever you're doing. Observe without judging, everything in your surroundings including your own movements, feelings and sensations.
Mindfulness is also great in helping you let go of the stuff that's making you unhappy. Yesterday is over, tomorrow might not get here, you only have today so make the most of it. Don’t load up with your baggage as you head out the door each morning, leave it where it is and just for the day be happy. Fake it 'til you make it and you’ll be surprised at the results.
By being happy you'll be better equipped to pursue your final goal.
3. Be Helpful
There's buckets of research to show that helping others makes us healthier and happier, but many of us don't feel up to giving away all our time or money. That’s because being helpful is a bit like fitting oxygen masks on a plane - you need to fit your own first before you can help anyone else.
Even though you're not yet bursting with energy and enthusiasm yet, you can still start being helpful on a smaller scale. Complimenting strangers, giving way to people in traffic, being the first to give up your seat for someone, using please and thank you in your transactions, or just offering a genuine good morning are great ways of being helpful by making someone else’s day a little easier.
Once you're fully equipped with your own oxygen mask fitted, you can find other ways to be helpful. Giving something back to society, people that you love, the environment, or whatever is important to you cultivates a feeling of fulfilment which leads to a happier more meaningful life.
These three simple goals might not win you awards or give you Mother Theresa status, but if pursued they will fill your life with meaning and purpose.
Remember, not everyone's life purpose will become their occupation. Some people need ordinary jobs to bring them into contact with the lives they are going to touch. And each life you touch will be richer if you're healthy, happy and helpful.