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Why Am I Here? Understanding Purpose

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Life doesn’t come with a manual. As we grow older and experience different situations, we become wiser and make better choices. Rearview Mirror Reflections Podcast ‌‌is a‌ ‌conversation‌ ‌between‌ ‌two‌ ‌Kenyan‌ ‌women‌ ‌sharing ‌their‌ ‌perspectives‌ ‌on‌ ‌life‌ ‌and‌ ‌what‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌learning‌ ‌along‌ ‌the‌ ‌way.‌ ‌The‌ ‌conversations‌ ‌are‌ ‌a‌ ‌reminder‌ ‌that‌ ‌life‌ ‌and‌ ‌our‌ ‌perspectives‌ ‌keep‌ ‌evolving.‌

A few moons ago, I had sleepless nights trying to figure out why I was here. This question lingered in my mind over and over again. In my mind, a purpose had to be something so magnanimous that helping businesses thrive in the online marketplace wouldn’t cut it.

However, as I listened to the eleventh episode of Rearview Mirror Reflections podcast, it was apparent that there’s a lot about purpose that hadn’t crossed my mind.

Thus, in the spirit of sharing, I thought it fit to dig deeper on what purpose means so that if just like me, you haven’t wrapped your head around the whole purpose thing, you can understand it better.

What is purpose?

Your purpose is centred around the main motivating factor in your life. It’s the reason you wake up to do what you do. Purpose shapes your goals, gives you meaning, helps you make life choices and influences your behaviour.

Everyone has a different purpose. Even when several people have one goal in life, how they’ll fulfil those goals is usually different. Some people find a sense of meaning in their careers. Some find meaning in their faith and religious beliefs, while others may find purpose in their roles in the community. There are also those whose purpose reflects in all the spheres of their lives.

It’s equally important to note that one’s purpose is not cast in stone. It changes over time as one goes through the different faces of life and experiences new things. In the eleventh episode of Rearview Mirror Reflections, Susan Njoroge says, “purpose can shift because of experiences and situations in life.”

Why do you need a sense of purpose?

To the most important question, why is finding your purpose so important? Research shows that finding your purpose unlocks so many things in your life.

A study published by Applied Psychology revealed that people who feel that what they do is worth it tend to live longer. These people have a high sense of eudemonic wellbeing. This kind of wellbeing is common among people who’ve reached self-actualization.

Another research links purpose-driven life with health benefits such as low risks of heart attack and stroke, improved quality of sleep and reduced risk of memory loss as one gets older.

And it doesn’t stop there. Journal of Research and Personality published research in 2016 that revealed that people who have a strong sense of purpose earn more money as compared to those who feel that their jobs are meaningless.

With all these benefits, it’s clear now why it’s important to know your purpose. It’s also important to note that purpose is not something you’ll determine fast. Neither will it come to you as a moment of revelation. However, through interactions with others, finding your passion and reflecting on your own life, you’ll eventually find your purpose.

How do you find purpose?

There are three key drivers of purpose:

  • Who?
  • Why?
  • How?

Who do you work to benefit?
You may find joy by working with individuals, organizations, or society. When it comes to individuals, you want to find out what made you the most proud. Was it when you helped someone overcome a situation? Or when you worked directly with an individual?

Those who work to benefit organizations are happier when they are part of projects that help teams explore their full potential. People driven by working for society are at their peak when implementing changes that alleviate societal problems.

Why do you want to make an impact?
There are two motivating factors behind why you want to make an impact: Karma and harmony. Both are centred around how people believe the world works.

Karma is where you are driven to make an impact because you believe in getting what you give. People that believe in Karma believe that hard work pays. On the other hand, harmony is where you want to make an impact because you believe we are equal, and therefore we should all have equal access to the opportunities around us.

How do you seek to make an impact?
The easiest way to find out the “how?” is to reflect on a day you thoroughly enjoyed and find out what were you doing? Which activities were you involved in? Who were you working with? The answer you get will help you understand the activities that give you meaning.

If you take your time to analyze these three questions, you’ll have an overview of what exactly makes you tick. Please note that it may take some time, but ultimately, you’ll know what gives you meaning. While you are at it, remember purpose doesn’t only imply the big stuff. Damaris Agweyu explains this in the eleventh episode of Rearview Mirror Reflections podcast, “It’s possible to find meaning in everything you do. It doesn’t have to be in the big thing. It can also be in very mundane things.”

 

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