How Do You Find Your Purpose?

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“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born AND the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

Purpose- it’s a word we’re inundated with since we have been kiddos. When we’re young we’re frequently asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At first our answers are cute, childhood fantasies that may or may not account for much; a fireman, a doctor, an astronaut, a dinosaur, or- my old standby- a princess. What’s great is that at this young age, any answer is considered an acceptable answer.  However, at some point, these answers become our reality, changing from a conversation piece to the rest of our lives. This is when we really begin to question ourselves. We wonder “Is this really what am I supposed to be doing?” “Am I even good at this?” “Is this my purpose?”

Before we can answer those questions, let’s first begin with understanding what purpose is. Purpose is the true spirit of who you are and the talents and gifts you possess. Purpose is waking up every day knowing what you were put on this earth to achieve. Purpose is what separates a job from a passion. It is the element of well-being that is the most important for employees in agencies to possess, because it’s how we occupy the majority of our time. This goes without being said, but for our government agencies we want employees that are full with purpose.

So… how does one go about finding one’s purpose? Don’t worry- you don’t have to go out on some soul finding trail hunt in Alaska (I mean, unless you want to…). That being said, finding your purpose does take some time and requires you to be introspective. Luckily, by answering the following questions below, you can get you started on find your right path aka purpose.

1. What are the top things in life that would make you stay late at work because you wanted to? Yes- you heard me. What topic/interest/passion/person would you consciously decide no, I am not running out the door of this room at 5p? Instead, I am not leaving until this (fill in the blank) is done. To do this correctly, limit your answers. Only write down the first one to three things that come to mind. Once written down, take a look at what you wrote. Ask yourself “Why do these things matter that much to me?”

2. What are you naturally good at? Everyone has natural talents- things that people have constantly pointed out as areas of strength. It could be being able to empathize with people or listen well, always being punctual, or anything in-between. Thankfully everyone on this planet have different strengths in different areas. What are yours? And, are you using those strengths every day?

3. What are the moments on my highlight reel? Tilt your head back and think about some of your favorite moments. Just pick a couple, at most three; you don’t want to overwhelm yourself! As you look back at this moments, remembering in vivid detail, think about why these moments are important to you. What makes them so meaningful? Why are they on your highlight reel? What aspects of these moments would you like to relive? And why?

4. What do I want to be said on my tombstone? As morbid as that may sound, think about it. What do you want to be remembered for? It can be for starting your own 501c3, helping change public policy for the better, or even for eating a 72oz steak in under an hour. What would make you look back at your life and think “I had a life well lived.”

By answering these four questions, you are on your way to finding what truly is important to you. Every one of us has a particular set of skills and talents that make us tick. The trick is to find what your ignition (aka purpose) is, find the connection between your purpose and your current role, and start the match! Sometimes these connections are self-evident; sometimes they take a little bit more to dig out of yourself.

That being said, I AM still wanting to become that princess and rule a kingdom at some point. So if anyone knows Kate Middleton so I can grab some pointers, please hook me up!

Petra Colindres is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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