Learn how to find your life purpose by honing in on your personal North Star.
I saw the Broadway musical Avenue Q last month. In it, the puppet Princeton is searching for his life purpose. He believes a purpose will give him meaning and direction. Friends, I was once that puppet. I wanted a life purpose. As a teenager, I thought I’d found it. It involved computers and knowing the format a TCP/IP protocol header packet by heart. (Yeah, I know. I was 16.) To make a long story very short, I was mistaken, and still haven’t found anything with the same certainty I felt then. Perhaps my certainty came from being 16, not from a real sense of purpose. Hormones can do strange things to teenage boys.
How to Find Your Life Purpose
About five years ago, I reviewed my life and discovered the most meaningful events were all serendipity. My grand plans had never worked out, but the unexpected Yowza!s have given me a lot: direction (at least in retrospect), meaning, fulfillment, and great friends.
These days, I’ve mellowed about life purpose. Instead, I go straight for the things a life purpose was supposed to give me. I ask, “What will be a meaningful, fulfilling thing to do next that will put me around the kind of people I like having as friends?”… And now I get to agonize over not having an answer to this question, as well.
Fortunately, I stumbled across Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck. It gave me some great tools. (Click here to hear my interview with Martha.) Your North Star may or may not be a huge overarching purpose, but you have a compass you can use to choose what’s next on your path, even if you don’t know where the path leads.
Use Your Body as a Compass
You know that icky feeling you get when you think about eating worms? Yes, that one. If you pay close attention, it’s the same feeling you get when you think about spending time with your brother-in-law Melvin. And that’s not coincidence. That’s your body telling you that it’s time to set Melvin up on a blind date with Bernice, hoping they end up taking a two year round-the-world honeymoon. Hanging out with Melvin is not your next life activity. (Yes, you may feel bad about foisting him off on Bernice, but she has shown a remarkable ability to form dysfunctional romances with anyone who wears too much eye-liner and glitter. And that certainly would describe Melvin.)