by Carrie Laymon

Picture yourself at the typical party, meeting or gathering where you have the opportunity to meet someone new. Besides your name, what is the first thing asked? Isn’t it usually something like “What do you do?”

Such a nebulous and open question, really. Yet somehow we have all evolved to translate this into “What kind of work are you in?” Or “What is your job?” We have become so accustomed to this that we have learned to define ourselves by our line of work—or the lack thereof. And our self-esteem actually gets all tangled up in how well we perceive others as valuing that work. Have you ever stopped to think how limiting that is?

Now think about this one: What would you say if the first or second question typically asked was “What is your purpose in life?” Would you have an answer before the party ended? If most of us really knew, how could that change our lives and how we relate to each other?

So, how do we find our life purpose? The following may offer some helpful starting points.Accept that you have a unique special purpose. This may sound too simple, but it is amazing how many people have never seriously considered this, or who live by the old bumper sticker philosophy: “Life’s a bummer and then you die”. NOT true!!

Each of us truly is a sacred spirit on a sacred mission on Earth. Once we truly believe this, we have already set into motion the journey to finding who we really are.Set an intent and consciously commit. Even though this has now become a routine part of my life, I still live in awe at how quickly things move once I recognize something and set an intent to find, change or create it. If you truly want to know what you are doing here, commit to finding that—and most importantly, be open to the idea that it may not be what you think.

Also, know that how you functionally express your purpose will constantly evolve. In fact, you are living it now in some form of expression. You cannot not live it because it is who you are.

Know that it is not necessarily a “job” in our usual sense of that word.

Your life purpose is the true spirit of who you are and the embodiment of your essential gifts and talents. Sometimes a job or career is how your purpose is operationally expressed. Many people fear finding their life purpose because they think it might mean leaving a well paying job, being financially poor, or making life changes they would rather not face.

In reality, your life purpose is simply being who you are and using your gifts, skills and natural talents to their highest potential in whatever setting you choose.

Put modesty aside and honestly assess yourself. Go deep inside and feel for what you are passionate about. Look at what you are really good at and what makes you feel great. What gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Most of us grew up and still exist in an environment where we are taught to focus most on improving our weaknesses rather than reaching the highest potential of our strengths. Whatever for? Who dreamed that one up?

While we typically have challenges to overcome in reaching our potential, the trail to our life purpose always follows our passion. When we follow our passion and our strengths, we find our life purpose.

Kick the old self-worth issues out the door and acknowledge who you really are. If you don’t know what you are good at, or even if you think you do, ask your friends, co-workers, clients, etc. The answers may surprise you and open up a whole new world of life and joy.