Some of the oldest surviving texts produced by ancient human civilizations ask, among other things, what the purpose of life is, demonstrating how long this question has been with us. In fact, people were probably asking those questions for many thousands of years before those texts were written as well. Today, it remains something that you still have to figure out for yourself despite efforts by some of the greatest minds to tackle it.
To start with, a shift in perspective can help. If you think about your life purpose as a destiny that you were born with, you can feel paralyzed while you’re trying to figure it out. What if you get it wrong? Instead, think of your purpose as finding out what is important to you. Not only does this take some of the pressure off but it also allows you to shift focus throughout your life, which also commonly happens. Some people are single-minded, but for many, their life purpose at 20 will not be the same as it is at 40, 60 or 80.
Broaden Your Horizons
You may not actually have a good sense of what the possibilities are and what is out there for you. If this is the case, there are ways that you can learn. Talk to people, read books, go online, and observe the world around you. College can be a great way to learn more about the world and get a sense of direction and purpose in your life. Too often, people skip college because they think they cannot afford it, but you can take out Earnest student loans to pay for your degree as well as applying for grants, scholarships, and federal aid. Try to take a variety of classes before honing in on your major.
Be a Kid
What excited you as a child? What did you want to be when you grew up? Don’t dismiss even the impossible answers; if you wanted to be a dinosaur, maybe you could study paleontology now. Similarly, think about how you used to get absorbed in activities and hobbies that you loved as a child. What makes you feel that way now? If the answer is nothing, try some new things. Volunteer, take a class, or try some new hobbies online and see if something sparks that passion in you.
One difficult thing about seeking purpose in life is that you can fall into patterns that other people have set for you. Many people find purpose in their work while others do so in family. Religious or spiritual pursuits are key to some while politics are for others. If none of these things is the case for you, you can feel directionless or even as though you don’t belong. But there are many other things that form the central core of people’s lives, whether it is caring for animals, painting pictures that you don’t share with anyone, spending as much time as you can in nature or inventing odd contraptions. Remember that when it comes to discovering your purpose, the only opinion that matters on the topic is your own.