Even during an economic downturn, finding meaning in our lives is not a privilege reserved only for a select few – it’s everyone’s responsibility.
At the risk of sounding too preachy, I’ll borrow some insight from Jewish wisdom that says: ”The day that you were born was the day that G-d decided that the world could no longer live without you.”
That means two things:
First, that we all matter to this world.
Second, that it is up to each one of us to find out exactly why we were put on Earth – so that we can fulfill our unique purpose. (I can assure you that while paying bills is part of life’s package – it is not anyone’s main reason for being)
Here I share with you the process that helped me uncover what I’ve come to call my reason for being.
To get your mental juices flowing, take time to imagine what you would do with your life if you did not have any bills to pay. If it helps your imagination, take some time to relax before you answer this question. Close you eyes if it helps you relax. Take a few deep breaths. Let it all go. Once your mind is still, imagine that it’s your 80th birthday (or 100th depending on your gene pool). What would you like your friends and family to say about your achievements and your contributions? What about your adventures?
Now consider the following three dimensions of your work life:
- Distinguishing skill: This is something that not only you are able to do well, but you are well known for at work. Think about the tasks or projects for which you are the ‘go to person’. For example, among my friends, I’m the go-to-person for career advice. It’s been that way for several years even before I decided to write a book on the subject.
- Predominant interest: It’s possible that you have many interests. Even so, pay close attention – observe yourself. What one interest do you keep going back to? Which is the one that has not been a passing fad in your life? If you’ve been drawn to fads all your life, what is the theme of those fads? In my case self-improvement has been the undercurrent of most of my interests. Whether I’ve taken up meditation, read books on leadership, or spent time learning about health and nutrition. The predominant theme of all these activities is self-improvement. Consequently I’ve read hundreds of books that are directly related to the subject.
- Obvious strength: Beyond being a skill or something that you can do, it is part of your essence as a person. It is not something that you learned through practice. Instead, it’s something you can do innately. For example, people who know me well, like my husband of eight years and some of my bosses, have mentioned that I’m great at persuading people about things I believe in. I did not learn how to do this – and no one taught me this. It’s something I do – and I don’t know why. If you’re having trouble identifying this, ask people who know you well. Ask colleagues, bosses, relatives or friends.
Where your distinguishing skill (career advice), predominant interest (self-improvement) and obvious strength (persuasion) intersect is your unique reason for being.
When I took time to complete this exercise, I discovered that my reason for being is:
To inspire and empower people around the world to create, follow and succeed on their path and consequently become better citizens of planet Earth. To achieve this I will empower you with insight and know-how to claim control over your career and succeed on your own terms.
It’s your turn now. I’d love to know why on earth were you put on Earth.