In the film Five Easy Pieces starring Jack Nicholson, the main character played by him, works in an oil field for many years after failing to achieve the dream of being a pianist; a dream which his parents created for him. Throughout the film, Jack’s character Robert Dupea doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to do with his life. He keeps running from his fears, his family, and from his past.
Figuring out what you were put on this Earth to do can sometimes be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle when the pieces are hidden. Some people don’t complete their puzzle because they often don’t have the patience, desire, or they’re just fearful. However, the five pieces needed to complete the puzzle of your life’s purpose are actually quite easy to find.
Here are the five easy pieces to piecing together your purpose in life:
1. Recognizing your talents and passions
This is probably the easiest and most common way for people to discover their purpose in life.
Following your talents and passions will lead to fulfillment, happiness, and hopefully even money to pay the bills (or to pay for a lot more). Natural-born or acquired talents, it doesn’t matter; you were given them by someone or something for a reason.
To discover more about your passions and talents, think of:
- What makes you cry with joy.
- What makes you and others smile.
- What people sincerely say you’re good at.
- What makes you and others laugh.
- What keeps you up all night because you’re so fired up about it.
2. Look to your past
It’s difficult sometimes to reflect on our pasts. There are plenty of events I would like to erase from my memory, but I think it’s foolish to do so. Instead, we should use it to move us forward and to make sense of where we are now.
Looking to our pasts to get a sense of our purpose has its own puzzle pieces:
- What circumstances were born into?
Perhaps you were born into poverty. Then your purpose may be to rise above impoverished surroundings and to lead others by example.
- What major mistakes and vices did you parents battle?
Were they abusive, addicted to drugs/alcohol, or did they engage is something else destructive? Well, your purpose is not to continue the cycle. You have to break free and again, lead by example.
- What have you failed at?
Failure should never be permanent. It’s only there to separate those who truly desire something from those who don’t. If a failure of something affected you so much that you couldn’t stop thinking about it, then your purpose is to get back in the game, approach it differently and succeed.
- Who affected you the most in a positive way?
Was it a teacher, author, doctor, actor, director, entrepreneur, a president, or a local hero? If they changed your life, then perhaps you should carry on a mission similar to theirs.
3. There are 4 purposes that unite us all:
1. Be as happy as possible.
2. Live life the way you desire.
3. Change the lives of others. (It often doesn’t take as much as you think)
4. Leave the world a little better than when we were born into it.
And yes, to all the negative readers: not everyone will fulfill these purposes, but everyone can.
4. Be open to multiple purposes
Many of us have multiple purposes, but often we have one main mission in life, and then other smaller reasons for existing. Perhaps someone is supposed to be a great parent, but also change the world in another way.
Other times, two different purposes can form into a larger one. I’ve been told that I was pretty good at writing and I should think about turning it into a career, but I always brushed it off. One thing I always wanted to do was change the world. So I decided one day to just combine the two and change the world through my talent for writing, while combining my other passions and purposes.
Our purposes can also vary depending on our age. Commonly it’s materialistic in nature when we’re younger, but not so much when we get older.
This leads me to the fifth piece of the puzzle:
5. Find out what your purpose in the now is
What you’re on this Earth to do today is more important than what your purpose later in life is. Today is guaranteed, tomorrow isn’t.
If you think your purpose it to share your art with the world, then start today! If you feel you’re supposed to be a social entrepreneur, then get going now! You may find something that’ll give your life meaning until the end.
We wait for the perfect moment, but it doesn’t exist. Concentrate on your purpose for today. Life is now, not tomorrow.
Did this article help you figure out your purpose or at least guide you in the right direction? Did it do nothing for you? Or do you have advice for us on figuring out our purpose? We want to hear from you. Share in our comments below!
*Author’s Note (August 2014)
Edited to clarify the last two sentences.
Photo by Wellington Sanipe via Unsplash