The older I get the more I realize that everything in my life, every scenario, every moment, is a choice. I can let life happen or I can make life happen. I can go through every day, following my usual routine or I can make every day count. No, I can’t abandon my responsibilities – there are some things I must do, but I can choose how I meet my responsibilities and I can try to make every moment the best it can be.
There is so much more to life than turning off the alarm and going through your usual routine. Many people chose to let life happen when they can choose to make life happen. The happiest people know and pursue their life’s purpose.
There are 4 steps to living life with a purpose: (1) Know your passion; (2) Recognize the difference between obligation, hobby, passion, and obsession; (3) Make your passion into your life’s purpose; and (4) Giving back.
Step 1: Know your Passion
What are you passionate about? Do you know? Have you ever thought about it? Take a moment to answer the following questions:
- Make a list of the things you really love to do. Write down anything you can think of, even if you think it is small or silly. Think of it this way, if money wasn’t an issue, and you could pursue what you really love, what would it be? Would you like to fish? Would you like to bake? Would you like to write? Would you like to go on adventures? What do you want to do?
TIP: Don’t confuse this with making a bucket list – which is a list of all the things you want to do once.
- Hobbies are a healthy way of using downtime. What are your hobbies? Do you do them because you love them or because you’ve always done them? Are there any other hobbies you want to pursue?
- If there were no TV, no internet, how would you spend your time?
Step 2: Recognize the Difference between Obligation, Hobby, Passion, and Obsession
Having a hobby or passion is great but there is a fine line when a passion can become an obsession. When this happens, the activity is no longer productive, in fact, in can become destructive to your health and/or your relationships. Here are 4 ways to look at exercising to distinguish between obligation, hobby, passion, and obsession:
- Obligation – You have to exercise everyday because you are following a program, but you may or may not enjoy it.
- Hobby – You like to exercise regularly because it makes you feel good both physically and mentally.
- Passion – You look forward to exercising regularly, read about how to exercise more effectively, incorporate other parts of your life (e.g., diet) into your routine.
- Obsession – You focus only on exercise. This is all you talk about. Your friends and family are tired of hearing about it. You spend money on exercise rather than paying your bills.
Now look at your list of hobbies again. Do any of these fall into any of the other categories?
Step 3: Make your Passion into your Life’s Purpose
Make your passion into your life’s purpose by developing yourself. Read, practice, and learn. The more expertise you gain in your area of passion the more you will enjoy it. This becomes a cyclical process. You learn more because you love it and you love it so you want to learn more. The more you read, learn, and practice, the more ideas you will develop for how to follow your passion. At some point, you will reach that aha moment when you discover how you want to use your passion for enhancing your life.
The most important thing to realize is that your life’s purpose is NOT to make money. If you are trying to do something just because you think it will make you tons of money than you are doing it for the wrong reason. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with making money! However, if you are only doing it to make money and not because you enjoy it you will not be happy with it. Not to worry though, if you do what makes you happy, truly happy, deep down happy – you will find opportunities to make money doing it.
Step 4: Giving Back
When you are truly happy with something you want to share it with others. Sharing with others makes everyone happy and there are lots of ways to share. Let’s use the example of gardening. Here are ways to share a passion about gardening and give back to others:
- Teach gardening techniques and tips
- Create a public garden
- Open a gardening store
- Share beautiful pictures of your garden
- Share herbs and vegetables with neighbors
- Harvest and share seeds
In the end, if you do the things that make you happy you will be happier. Sometimes you just need to stop the treadmill and think about what you really want.