How to define your personal purpose and create a vision for your life

When you look at your future, what do you see? Do you see yourself growing into the person you’ve always wanted to be? Do you have a clearly defined mission and accomplishments to achieve?

Creating a vision is the first step to realizing your life purpose, knowing what you aspire to, and recognizing your potential. It is one thing to believe that you have a promising future, but it is quite another to be able to visualize it with absolute clarity, to make it an awesome reality.

The nine steps you will learn today will allow you to define your goals, your dreams, and your personal mission so that you can develop the motivation and strength you need to achieve them.

Living a life of purpose will motivate you to get up every morning and focus all your energy. Having a purpose in your life can help you feel that your routines and habits are meaningful.

A series of scientific studies conducted in 2014 concluded that developing a purposeful mindset improves academic outcomes. This mindset improved self-regulation, persistence, grades average, and the amount of time students were willing to spend doing assignments and studying for tests.

In psychology, to have a purpose is to intend to accomplish something that is personally meaningful and influences the world beyond yourself. If you don’t feel fulfilled or happy with your life, you always have the option of evaluating your purpose and determining what actions you need to take to fulfill it.

It is never too late to start living a life that has meaning, and that brings you closer to achieving happiness and fulfillment. Take the following steps that will help you define a vision for life and fulfill a meaningful purpose.

1. Visualize the final result you want to accomplish.

Instead of just dreaming about how you would like your life to be, visualize yourself in the future, celebrating your achievements and satisfactions you have already reached. Thinking this way can help you focus your vision and stay on track.

Imagine yourself in your old age, reflecting on your life. What kind of life would you like to have lived? Would you be satisfied with how you spent most of your time traveling around the world, but not necessarily having a family? Or would you have felt proud and fulfilled if you had a happy and healthy family?

Thinking about things like getting old and what kind of legacy you are going to leave to the world is not easy. It’s especially hard if you’ve lost someone close to you, or if you or a loved one is going through a life-threatening illness. But seeking the meaning of life and accepting that no one lives forever will allow you to understand that your presence can leave a lasting impact on the world and that it is up to you to decide what you want to accomplish with your life.

Define your priorities and values on which you want to fundament your vision of life, and consider how you can leave a lasting and positive influence on the people around you.

It is not necessary to have a monument in your honor to leave a lasting legacy. Sometimes, it is enough to make a positive and meaningful difference by showing kindness, humor, service to others, and love. Your kind actions, like sharing knowledge or skills with someone, or helping a loved one through difficult times, can make a significant difference in your life and the lives of others.

2. Find meaning in your life.

Having a meaningful purpose increases the quality of life, and may even help you live longer.

A lot of scientific research has found that having a sense of meaning in life is associated with many positive health outcomes. And now a new study on older adults published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences goes even further. It has revealed that the sense that one is living a worthwhile life seems to be positively linked to almost every aspect of our lives, not just health. This study followed people over time and found that the more meaning they gained, the more positive changes they experienced in their personal lives, relationships, work, or business.

The feeling that life has meaning can come from many sources: from work, when you feel it is worthwhile, from relationships, from hobbies, from carrying out meaningful projects, or even from appreciating the sunset frequently.

Think about how you can create a positive impact on yourself, on others, and the environment while making the most of your abilities, for this combination of elements can give your life a profound meaning.

Of course, this may require you to try several different activities to identify the one in which you feel that your abilities and satisfaction are at their best. If you’re attracted to photography, borrow a camera or take a class and see how you feel. Or maybe you are interested in helping others, and you’re are good at communication, then try giving private lessons to see if teaching helps you feel fulfilled.

Remember that everyone has different priorities; finding out what’s important to you is essential to living a life that makes sense. 

3. Write a personal vision statement.

By taking the time to write a personal vision statement, you can make better decisions that will keep you on track throughout your life. Besides, you will stay within what is known as the cycle of balance rather than a cycle of stress. 

The cycle of balance is about doing activities that allow you to achieve satisfaction and positive long-term results. By defining a specific goal and pursuing it, you will feel the drive and motivation to set an even higher purpose. This way, you will be more satisfied, more productive, and experience more meaning in your life.

On the other hand, people who live without a personal vision may end up living under a lot of stress. They usually spend a lot of their free time doing activities that, while they may give them an immediate sense of reward, do not provide lasting satisfaction. When people are trapped in a cycle of stress, they experience exhaustion and feel that all their efforts are wasted.

To write a personal vision statement, write two or three paragraphs describing your values, your natural abilities, and your goals.

The following is an example of a personal vision that can give you a better idea of how to establish your own statement:

I will live each day as if I have all the power and influence necessary to make the world a beautiful place. By listening and serving others, I will learn new ideas and gain different perspectives. I will strive to master life’s challenges by increasing my skills, expanding my circle of influence, and reducing the emphasis on those areas of concern over which I have no control.

I will behave in such a way that I become a light, not an obstacle, for those who choose to follow or guide me. I will trust my dreams and avoid falling into vice and excess, so as not to be a prisoner of anything. I will use my private victories to create value for others. The pursuit of excellence will determine the choices I make and the paths I choose to travel. I will expect no more from others than I expect from myself.

I will seek new sources of inspiration and growth in nature, family, literature, and new knowledge. I will show love instead of expecting love. Today I choose to focus on being effective rather than efficient. Today I decide to make a difference in this world.

4. Follow your passion and your values.

A big part of living a life of purpose is realizing what you are passionate about. Ask yourself and answer as truthfully as possible: “What do I like to do? What makes me happy? What activity makes me lose track of time?

Art-related activities such as painting, singing, or writing can help you explore your personality. By spending time on these activities, you may find that you are passionate about a different career or job than you currently have. Or you may find that you are passionate about community service and decide to focus your career on serving others. Living by this passion may be more fulfilling for you, even if you don’t make as much money.

It’s essential to evaluate what you like to do, what you’re currently doing, and what you need to change your life to a more meaningful one. Some questions that can help you are:

  • When have you been the happiest in your life?
  • What has made you proud of yourself?
  • What qualities do you most admire in other people?
  • What activity makes you feel alive and happy?
  • How happy do you feel every day?
  • If you had only a week to live, how would you spend that week?
  • If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
  • What change could make your life happier?

The activities that are part of your purpose and mission are those that you like to do, even if nobody pays you to do them, and it is very likely that by doing these activities, you will lose track of time.

The scientist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi established the term “flow,” which in psychology is the state that an individual reaches when he is focused on the activity he is doing, to the point where his actions and thoughts flow naturally.

Make a list of accomplishments and goals that are important to you, and then consider whether the way you are living your life aligns with them. If not, how could you restructure your activities so that the actions you take every day, bring you closer to achieving the things that are important to you?

Try to integrate what you like into your daily life, even if it is in small quantities. Just remember that you may not find an ideal situation. In today’s world, we all have to find a source of income to cover our basic needs. Even so, you can carry out significant projects in the hours of free time that many spend on television, social media, or video games. Because we know that these activities in excess, consume all your free time and bring you problems instead of satisfaction in life.

5. Look for ways to help others using your talents and skills.

The Dalai Lama said, “Compassion is what makes our lives meaningful.” Sometimes this is easy to do, but many times it is a challenge.

When you see someone suffering or doing something that bothers you, try to put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you would feel or behave if you were facing the same situation. Perhaps by doing this, you will be encouraged to act assertively, either by trying to help the person or by showing understanding for them.

Throughout several scientific studies, it has been established that compassionate actions activate the pleasure center in your brain, causing you to feel good every time you help someone. Also, kind people are better friends, parents, and spouses, so developing compassion can also help you improve your relationships.

You can be compassionate in many ways. You can donate money, talents, knowledge, or a few minutes of your time to someone who needs it. However, keep in mind that you can’t give an hour of your time once a year and expect to get all the positive results we’re talking about. Research shows that it is necessary to be compassionate regularly.

Try to do something you enjoy, as a volunteer. For example, if you love animals, volunteer as often as you can at your local animal shelter. If you love children, see if you can volunteer at an institution or community center. Volunteering is one of the best ways to find your passion in life and helps you gain a clearer perspective.

6. Set clear and meaningful goals.

Having goals in your life can help you feel like you are living a life of purpose. Just set clear goals and work toward them. Write down your goals and put them somewhere you can see them, review them often, and mark them as you achieve them.

You can write down immediate goals like “learn how to bake a cake from scratch” or “learn the basic salsa dancing steps.” You can also write long-term goals like “take a course online to develop apps” or “learn to play the guitar.”

Think of something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you want to get into the habit of running or write a novel. Whatever it is, setting a goal to fulfill your dream will help you feel like you have a purpose.

If you have big goals, it’s crucial to break that big goal down into smaller, more specific, and manageable ones. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that breaking a big goal into smaller, more manageable steps makes it more likely to be achieved.

7. Indicate specific actions on your vision board.

In one study, researchers at the University of California asked one group of students to visualize themselves getting a perfect score on a test, and asked another group to visualize themselves studying for the test.

The group of students who visualized themselves receiving a good score obtained a lower score on the test. However, the students who visualized themselves studying spent more time preparing for the test and ultimately scored much better.

That’s just one example. Multiple studies show that athletes, students, and musicians perform better when they visualize themselves taking the necessary steps to succeed than when they only imagine success. This finding means that it is better to focus on the process and let the results come to you as a consequence.

Whether your goals are big or small, it’s necessary to identify the short-term action steps you can start taking right now and put them on your dream board. By turning your abstract dreams and goals into specific actions you can take every day, you will gain greater clarity to move forward and make them a reality.

For example, change your goal from “write a book” to “write for half an hour every day.” Divide a goal such as “become a dentist” into steps such as “study every day to maintain my grades,” “do an internship at a dentist’s office,” and “take a training course to be accepted in the university.”

By visualizing yourself performing the steps you need to succeed, you have a better chance of accomplishing them. Imagine yourself taking care of your diet, exercising, studying, and working on your professional projects.

The way you think is crucial: it affects how you feel and how you behave. But just thinking and staring at a dream board on the wall will not change your life. Positive thinking only works when combined with the positive actions you take today.

8. Align every aspect of your life with your personal purpose.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well.” If you have a job that doesn’t seem meaningful to you, then concentrate on being the best at your work. This change, in itself, can add meaning to your life because it requires you to go to work every day with a goal in mind.

You can also try to find different ways in which your work allows you to provide value. For example, if you work in a daycare center, think of it as helping not only the children you care for but also the children’s families by giving them time to go to work or attend to their matters. If you’re a teacher, you’re not only helping the students, but you’re also learning a lot of things about different subjects.

Plan your daily activities so that you can focus better and apply your talents and skills in your day-to-day life. You may have to limit yourself to checking social media only once or twice a day instead of every half hour. But it’s worth keeping out some distractions so that you can put your energy into the things you’re really passionate about.

Eliminate more and more distracting activities from your daily routine. Over time, you will have a more simplified daily routine, which will help you feel like you are living with purpose and not just busy doing a lot of meaningless things.

9. Make the necessary changes happen.

Reflecting on your daily habits requires you to be honest with yourself. If you decide that what you want to do with your life is something that requires significant changes (for example, traveling the world, investing your savings in studying a new career, or opening an online business using your free time), then you have to look beyond the fear. Fear often prevents us from doing what we want to do.

Building trust and acknowledging your fears can help you take courage. Maybe you have already tried to change your attitude about your current job without success. It may be time for you to look at other job opportunities. But before you end up in another position that won’t make sense to you either, take the time to write down the things you value in life. People seek to change careers for many different reasons. Your career goals or values may change over time; you may have discovered new interests that you would like to pursue, or you may want to have more flexible schedules.

Before you decide, it is essential to evaluate your current situation carefully to explore new career options, to determine if your career needs to be renewed and to choose a more satisfying profession. Sometimes it is best to try a new activity or hobby in your free time to determine if you want to make a significant change in your life.

Share with us, what other methods have helped you define your vision of life?

A clear personal vision is an integration of your interests, personality, values, goals, skills, experience, culture, and stage of life. There are many factors!

But having a personal vision will give you the guidance you need to make the right decisions every day that will bring you closer to reaching your ideals, purpose, and long-term goals.

It’s not about making a fixed, determined plan. The best thing is to live in the moment and savor every activity you do daily. Remember that the future is uncertain, and everything can change. Once you have established a life purpose, you must be open to taking alternative paths when necessary and shape your vision as you move forward, without losing sight of your ultimate goal.

Clearly define the meaningful purpose that will guide you from now on. Because living with intention and having a clear vision will allow you to achieve exceptional results in all areas of your life.

☞ References:
The Psychology of Purpose

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