Finding Your Passion and Purpose in Life

UPDATED: September 9, 2008
PUBLISHED: September 9, 2008

Q: Hey, Darren: I’ve tried many different jobs and careers, and have a varied educational background, so I’ve given lots of different things a shot… but I’ve never really found a career path that felt “right.” How do I discover what my mission is? —Michael Werner

A: Michael, this is a great question and one I keep being asked. Having contemplated my own “mission” in life with a desire to find my purpose, I have discovered a few principles to help guide my decision-making and direction in my professional pursuits…

Principle 1. Do What You Love

When any super-successful person is asked for one tip they would give to someone seeking a rich life, it always seems to be: Do what you love. If you love what you do, you will not only be great at it, thus likely successful, but you will also never see work as work, but life itself. I, too, believe in this romantic notion of life. I don’t believe one should live a dual existence—their work life and their nonwork life. Think about it, all told you spend three-quarters of your waking hours—at least five days a week, 50 weeks a year—involved with your work. If you don’t like what you do, you are living most of your life in pain and misery. This is no way to live. To really live, spend most all your life loving what you do.

But don’t OVER romanticize this notion. Every business, job and productive project will have its difficulties, taxing responsibilities and unpleasant aspects. Pressing on and overcoming those factors is where much of the feeling of accomplishment comes from. Yet, overall, you are exhilarated and fulfilled by your work.

Discovering what you love? Questions to consider…

If you had all the money you ever needed and had already vacationed, traveled everywhere you wanted to go and were back home with nothing to do, what would you do now? What would you do, if only for the fun and feeling of self-worth it would provide?

If you could trade professional places with anybody you know or have ever witnessed, who would it be? Why? What aspect of their job, business or job function appeals to you most? What other businesses have those same aspects?

When have you felt most alive, most accomplished and most satisfied in life? What were you doing? What about it gave you those feelings?

I have found most people already know what they love but don’t know how to translate that into a business or career, or they are too afraid to pursue it.

Principle 2. Do What’s You

Two very important questions to ponder are: Who am I and, more importantly, who do I want to become? To feel spiritually and energetically exalted by your work, it will need to align with your core values, self-image and character. You might love to play poker, but hanging out in casinos and being a professional poker player might not be the full expression of Who You Are or make you more of Who You Want to Become.

Discovering Who You Are? Questions to consider…

What are your core values in life? How would you describe yourself and your character? How do you wish others would describe you and your character?

Be sure the professional path you choose aligns with those descriptions.

Principle 3. Do What’s Easy

Your true path in life is the path of least resistance for you. If you want to discover your “mission” or your unique purpose in life, figure out what you are uniquely good at and what comes easy to you. If it’s hard for you or if you are not very good at something, that’s probably not what you were meant to do.

Here is the great challenge for most of us. We have ended up in jobs, careers or businesses OTHERS have thought best for us. Those others could be parents, teachers, counselors, peers, societal ideals, etc. Few of us have followed our own path in life, guided by our strengths. It’s time to take back control of your life and get in touch with your unique potential.

Discovering Your Strengths? Questions to consider…

What comes easy to you? What do many people have difficulty doing, but you find easy? What advice or assistance do people tend to ask you for? If you were in a line of 20 people, shoulder to shoulder, what do you probably do better than most of the 19 others? What unique skill, insight, intuition or knowledge base do you have that most don’t?

The answers to those questions will reveal your unique advantage in life, and probably what you were designed to do.

Now, go out and live the life you were meant to live!

Darren Hardy is the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever: A Proven Formula for Achieving Big Goals.