Look for the Need or Problem

This blog post is Part 5 in a 14-part blog series on discovering and living your mission. (If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.) In the next few posts, we will walk through some exercises designed to help you clarify your purpose. In other words, what is the “why” that truly drives and motivates you?

Before we get into the exercises, I want to make the point that discovering your purpose is a process that takes time. It’s unrealistic to think that you will complete a few exercises and your “why” will jump right out at you like a neon sign on a dark highway. It could happen like that, but usually discovering your purpose is a process. Work through these exercises, but then think and reflect on what comes up for you. Even better, work through these exercises with a friend or small group who is exploring the same questions. Over time, you will get more clarity about your “why”.

Often, our purpose is connected with meeting an important need or solving a big problem. So this can be a helpful place to start. Take some time and reflect on the various needs and problems in the world. (There are a lot of them.) Throughout your day, pay attention to the various needs and problems that come up. It might be something that you are struggling with in your own life, like a personal struggle or physical illness. Or it might be something that one of your family members or friends is struggling with. Or it might even be something that doesn’t personally impact you, but you read about in the news or on social media.

What needs or problems tug at your heart the most? What needs or problems bring up a strong emotional reaction inside you? What needs or problems make you stand up and think, “Something needs to be done about this!” You might not understand why something tugs at your heart. That’s okay. Just jot down the need or problem in a notebook or your phone.

You might also observe your own behavior. What kinds of news stories are you most interested in? What types of documentaries or films are you drawn to? If you volunteer your time or donate your money, think about where you allocate your resources. When someone asks you to donate your time or money, what kinds of requests do you ignore or brush off? On the other hand, what kinds of requests make you stop and actually do something to help?

After you have reflected on these questions, write down some of your thoughts. What important needs and big problems are you focused on? How might these needs and problems inform your purpose?

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