Said by the author Mark Twain, these poignant words speak to the human need to understand why we do what we do.
What purpose are you trying to achieve when you make the decision to invest time, energy and money in the things you do?
Of course, this sense of purpose is always a very subjective experience, explains Cape Town life coach Judy Goodwin.
"For some it is very clear cut, for others it is less obvious and harder to identify.
Some people find their purpose in changing the world or inside of big ideas, yet for others this may feel too large and intimidating."
Judy adds that it's common for other people to find purpose in smaller, more intimate goals and ideals.
"Neither is better or more important. It is more about finding what makes your soul sing and helps you be the best you can be, whatever that means - for you."
"There is as much value in finding a sense of purpose through growing a garden, building a huge corporate, practising a discipline or faith, raising a family, finding beauty in each day as there is in travelling the world or living in a village (for example). What does make a difference is how your personal sense of purpose, grandiose or individual helps you live a life that you love and that you are proud of.”
To help you on the journey of self-discovery and awareness, we reached out to more local life coaches to share some of the questions that you should be asking yourself on your search for fulfillment.
Penny Holburn, Johannesburg
1. What would you love to do that you would do even if you didn’t get paid to do it?
In many instances we know what our purpose is. We just get so caught up with what others have said to us and told us. What parents, teachers, society, the media etc think is okay for our purpose.
We often think that we cannot make money from doing what we love and often we will choose a purpose based on what the pay is. By taking pay out of the equation and by eliminating the need to consider if there are positions - it is possible to only think about what you love doing.
Ultimately when you come to deciding what you want to do you have to consider this - but often it is the first thing considered instead of what you would love to do. Consider first what you would love to do and then look around that for how to make money from it and what types of positions exist and careers can be planned.
2. What are you doing when you feel so engaged in the activity that time just passes by without you being aware of it?
When we are doing what is right for us we forget about time. We become so engaged with what we are doing that time just passes by and when we look up we notice the day has gone. When you are in that flow you are doing something that is right for you.
3. What do other people say you are really good at / come to you for advice and help about?
Often we actually don't know ourselves very well. And other people can see our strengths and good qualities better than us. If people voluntarily come to us for advice about something they have picked up that we are good at it. So this question can get you to understand hidden strengths and talents which other people notice and like and probably would pay you for.
Thembelihle Seruto, Johannesburg
1. What do I enjoy doing the most?
2. What brings me the most joy?
3. If money was not an issue and I was not running away from my current problems, what would I be running towards?
If money, time, limitations and fear was not a problem, what would you be doing right now?
The reality is, most humans do not even know how to answer the above. Most people are so used to knowing what it is that they do not want that they have no idea what it is that they DO want.
Additionally, there are reasons why you love what you love and why it brings you so much joy. It is coded in your DNA. The things you enjoy the most are like signs and synchronicities to what you are to do here on this planet. Which speaks to the old saying, “follow your heart”. They are telling you the truth. That which brings you the most joy is in fact a “clue” into the direction of which to take to guide you to unfold what it is to do (next) on this planet.
A little secret, everyone’s life purpose is to bring the most joy to their hearts. And when you are happy and doing this, you bring the most joy to all those around you.
Sjaan Wilkinson, Cape Town
1. Why do you want to find your true purpose?
This can help you discover what is lacking, if anything in your current situation and highlight where there is potentially a void e.g. you do not feel fulfilled at work, or you are not making a significant difference in your community. If you reflect on the reason for you uncovering your true purpose, you may discover how your strong your desire is to uncover it and whether you are perhaps living your true purpose to some degree already.
2. What do you daydream about?
Often when we daydream, we are in a relaxed state and our mind is free from worry and fear. This is when you might imagine writing that book, going on that vacation or helping those in need. What you fantasise about could point you in the direction of your purpose. Write down these thoughts and then you can begin clarifying and planning how to proceed living your true purpose.
3. Who inspires you and why?
What is it about them that you admire? Many of us have role models we look up to and respect, and just seeing them or reading about what they have done or said, makes us feel good. The traits that such role models have and what they say and do, could be something we aspire to as well, which will help uncover our true purpose. If you can find out how your role model uncovered their purpose and became the person they are, that can also be useful for your own journey.
4. How do you spend your spare time?
What do you do when your work and chores are all done, that you thoroughly enjoy? Where do you go, what do you spend the most time and/or money on. What can you focus on for quite some time and feel really captivated by, and talk about most in your spare time? Asking yourself these questions can be very useful in revealing your purpose.
Ask friends and family to tell you what you are doing when you appear at your happiest. Sometimes we do not notice what other people around us do about ourselves. Getting feedback from those closest to us can be very valuable. Ask them when they believe you appear to be living your calling and notice your response to their feedback. You will feel it if you agree with them.
Nokubonga Mbanga, Johannesburg
Nokubonga's suggests asking yourself questions related that will help you define your purpose, capabilities and highest possibilities/footprint.
1. Defining and connecting with me
• Who am I?
• What are my passions & desires?
• What are my values?
2. My capabilities
• What are my strengths?
• What are my talents?
• What do I enjoy about my work/ interests?
• What I currently do on a daily basis/ regularly is it what I love doing? The person can first draw a list of what she does regularly and a list of what she loves doing (what makes her thrive) and do a comparison and the bigger the gap the more he/ she needs to connect with her WHY?
3. My highest possibilities/my foot print
• What is true about me today that would make my 40/60 year old self proud?
• How can I better serve the world?
• How can I express and share my talents to the world?
• What is my message to the world?
The first two assist in answering number there because you can better know your place in the world/ universe if you understand who you are and what matters to you. The next step will be to then to analyse where am I in relation to where I want to be and how I want to serve the world. Crafting a realistic and smart action plan gets you closer to your purpose.