Most people begin their search for meaning in life by looking out into the world, through their relationships, work and community. Yet even when we have ventured successfully in those areas, there is often a lingering sense that something is missing. What is that really about? Exactly what is it that seems to be missing? And how can we fill in the missing gaps?
I believe that deep inside every human being is a buried treasure—each of us a virtual goldmine of untapped possibility and potential. That is what I see every day in the people of my life, my husband, friends, neighbors, grocery store personnel, the post office clerks and of course my coaching clients.
Just the other day in a weekly yoga class I attend, my big-hearted teacher said to us as she smiled so radiantly, “My teacher taught me how to look at all your faces and see each of you as a bright light that I am connected to in the universe. And so that is what I see.”
Her comments reminded me of who we really are (each of us) beneath our exterior facades—a bright goldmine of greatness and possibility. It is such a seemingly effortless thing she does, yet a powerful example of how really simple it is to act upon the spiritual values of connectedness and oneness. In other words, she doesn’t just talk about being a bright light; she models it simply by being who she is.
After many years of studying human awareness, and working with people from all walks of life, I have discovered 7 essential keys that you can apply right now for living a life of meaning and purpose.
1. Commit to finding what matters most in your life and what problem you are passionate about solving for others and the world.
This is the number one key for a truly successful life. The people I have known who are the happiest and most soul-connected know what is important to them. And they have focused on work and activities they are passionate about. They are fed by giving value to others, solving problems and making the world a better place.
2. Engage the still inner voice deep inside of you and your higher power. Begin a genuine inquiry about what you are here to do and what you most value. Then listen carefully for your next steps.
I know this seems obvious, however, most people in our modern culture don’t maintain a regular (like daily) committed spiritual practice of prayer and reflection. Taking some time (even 5-10 minutes a day) to really reflect on your true priorities can make a huge difference. You don’t need to have a “loud” calling to be called. Just take one step closer each day into your purpose which is more about (here’s a hint) what you want to contribute than a particular job or career. You will find there are many opportunities to express your true purpose than you might now imagine.
3. Put legs and feet under your dreams. When you discover a passion begin pursuing the skills you need and take action to build a strong network to bring it all to life. Choose work that allows you to express something you love doing at least 75% of the time.
Many people get stuck “thinking” way too much about their dreams or they over-analyze the simple intuitive hits that are nudging them along. Your mind alone will not guide you, nor will it motivate you for very long.
When you receive an intuition to change your life, and you find yourself stalling, get help immediately, so you can keep moving forward with an inspired process. You must take physical action to bring your dreams alive or they will only live and die in your mind.
For example if you are feeling stuck in a job you don’t like, start building a bridge between that and what you really want to do by taking one small step each day.
It is so true the following quote from 16th century Taoist Lao Tzu:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
4. Find a way to be accountable to yourself so you can notice and measure your success as you move toward a goal. You’ll be amazed at what can happen when you simply begin walking toward your goals?
One way to do this is by having someone else to be accountable to. This is also where a professional coach can really boost you.
When “Dawn” came to me she was struggling with keeping her commitments to herself. She was easily distracted by the needs of others, answering endless emails and phone calls and had a hard time finishing any project she started.
Some of the hidden beliefs we uncovered and I helped her eliminate were, “I don’t matter,” “My needs don’t matter” and “I am not important.”
Then a week later during our next appointment she had compiled a list of all the things she had accomplished that week and presented it to me. Feeling uplifted and inspired she reported that she had gotten more done (in one week) toward her goals than in the entire past year.
If you can’t afford to hire a coach, find a committed ally in your community or talk long distance over the phone with someone with whom you can exchange accountability. Trust me, it's really not that complicated to set this up.
5. Be willing to try new things even when you are afraid. Let your sincere intention and serendipity guide you. Be ready for some delightful and unexpected doors of opportunity to open.
Another of my coaching clients “Caroline” had lost her corporate job and called me for help while she was exploring new possibilities regarding her next career move. She realized that she had wanted to start her own consulting business and was simply too afraid.
We identified a hidden pattern that was getting in her way. The pattern was that “Whenever I think about stepping into my own business, I feel afraid, I retreat and don’t take action.”
Some of the beliefs related to this pattern (that we eliminated) were, “I am not good enough,” “I don’t have what it takes,“ “If I make a mistake I will fail” and “I am powerless.” You can imagine with those kinds of hidden beliefs in the background that it would be hard to take action.
Now with the unwanted pattern out of the way I began mapping out the steps with Caroline that she needed to take to begin her consulting practice and start marketing her services.
Within a few short weeks she had two new clients and was now on her way.
6. Let go of the idea that you must be comfortable to be on track. It is likely you will be challenged to move out of your comfort zone many times in order to keep growing and to continue feeling passionate about your life.
I will venture to say that the more uncomfortable you are while stepping toward this something new, the more on track you end up being. When you start something new the areas where you lack confidence and belief in yourself will tend to show up.
When you become aware of these “shadow” areas in your life, you will more easily make choices that support your growth and what you want to accomplish. When you ignore them, they simply run you.
7. When set backs occur, get support so you can manage your thoughts and feelings more easily. Stay in present time with your circumstances. Again take time to reflect daily, ask for inner guidance and trust the process you are in is truly for your greater good.
For example, if you are having a health crisis, instead of asking “why is this happening to me?”—which you may never know—get the help you need medically, yet also look at what needs to be strengthened within you, or what you may need to let go of.
When you are willing to follow these steps in your search for meaning, you will begin to enjoy your life for the adventure it is. Not only will you find treasure that fills the missing pieces, you will discover your untapped passions, creativity and the sense of purpose you crave. ♥
Desirée Watson is a transformational coach and trainer who specializes in helping people break free from self-defeating beliefs that otherwise hold them back and move into alignment with what they most value. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Desirée, go to CoachDesiree.com