Exploration

The second thing to consder is embarking on an adventure of exploring your purpose, if you don’t already have a good sense of it. It’s not as simple as asking, “What would I like to do?” or doing a web search for the answer. You have to explore it, and bringing a sense of adventure might be just the right approach.

Here’s how I usually recommend exploring purpose:

  1. Make a list of things that you think might be meaningful to you — helping children in need, helping people reduce stress, traveling to help communities in need, etc. Put anything on the list that’s even remotely possible or interesting, don’t limit yourself here. Hint: I’ve found that the most meaningful things are when you’re helping other people with something you care about.
  2. Ask yourself which 3-5 of these would be most meaningful. If one really stands out — maybe it’s the thing you’ve been wanting to do for years — then that’s where to start. But maybe you’re not sure, so pick 3-5. This is your short list.
  3. Of those, let your gut choose the top one. If you absolutely don’t know, either choose randomly, or ask a friend. This isn’t your final answer, but just the one you’re going to start with.
  4. Choose a 2-week version of this top possibility. For example, if you want to help people with stress, could you help 1 person over video calls and email for 2 weeks? This is the mini-version of your possible purpose. Explore this for 2 weeks, really pouring yourself into it.
  5. If this really resonates, make a one-month version of it and continue to explore. If it doesn’t, pick the next thing on your short list. Do a 2-week version of that. Repeat until you find something to explore for a month or longer.

This is the iterative method of purpose exploration. You try a mini-version of something for a couple weeks. Maybe longer. And keep doing this until you hit on something.

Notice if you feel like avoiding this process, or a part of the process. This is your uncertainty showing up as fear. That’s completely OK, but you might ask whether you’d like to get support with that uncertainty, so you don’t have to be stopped.

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