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Life > Experiences

How To Find Your Purpose

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Nowadays, so many people stress the importance of finding your purpose. After all, it allows you to live a happier, more fulfilling life. And who doesn’t want to be happy? The problem is, nobody really tells you how to do that. 

Recently, I realized that finding my purpose will get me closer to achieving my goals because it gives me an intrinsic motivating factor that can allow me to rely more on discipline than motivation when I’m taking action towards them. That being said, I’ve been on a self-discovery journey these last few months, reading books and listening to podcasts, to figure out how I can get closer to finding my purpose. In this article, I’ll tell you a few tidbits I’ve learned along the way in hopes that it helps you find your own purpose. 

1. what does it mean to have a purpose?

The way I see it, having a purpose is twofold. You can have a purpose for each of your individual goals, which means having clear intentions about why you do the things you do. For example, going to the gym because you want to get stronger, you want to improve your health, or whatever your specific reason is. What this article is going to talk about is your overarching purpose that defines your overall intention in life – the reason you get up in the morning. This goes beyond knowing you go to the gym because you have certain physical goals and it ties that intention into your overall reason for being. Why is it important for you to be healthy, strong, and fit? This sounds very daunting at first, which is why you need to get specific about defining exactly what this intention is so it seems less abstract. 

2. what you need to ask yourself to find your purpose

All of the podcasts I’ve listened to and books I’ve read (including this one) seem to focus on three main questions you need to ask yourself in order to find your reason for being, or your purpose: 

  • What are you good at? 
  • What are you passionate about? 
  • What does the world need? 

Once you have your answers to these three questions, you can link them together by asking yourself: am I passionate about what I’m good at? How do I use what I am good at and what I am passionate about to serve the world? 

In this process, I found that it was important to be as authentic with my answers as possible. I think we can get so caught up in what other people – in real life and on social media – are doing that we forget what we truly want for ourselves. For example, someone on your Instagram feed might be a non-profit cofounder, an activist, or a lawyer, and you might think to yourself, Wow, I feel like a failure because I can’t do that. But maybe your skills don’t really align with that path or that’s not what you’re truly passionate about in life. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other people, but we don’t have to copy them to feel fulfilled. I love Shania Bhopa on Instagram. I think she’s a great example of someone who has found her purpose in life, which really inspires me. But I could not do exactly what she does, like teaching AI workshops, simply because that doesn’t align with my skills or my passions. However, I can get inspired by her attitude towards life, her advice, and her work ethic, to get closer to what I care about. 

3. how to align your actions with your purpose

Once you understand what your purpose is, it becomes much easier to figure out how you can live a more purposeful life every day. When you figure out what you are passionate about and what you like, you’ll naturally look for more ways you can incorporate these things into your everyday life. From there, you can figure out how you can use your passions and skills to serve the world. For example, I love writing and storytelling. I know I am really good at it. I know I am really good at empathizing with others. I know I am passionate about human rights issues, like gender-based violence, and helping make a difference in the world. So I can ask myself, how can I use my creative and interpersonal skills to create tangible change in that area? Maybe it’s working to increase awareness of gender-based violence through research, or working for a non-profit organization. 

It can seem overwhelming at first to figure out your purpose when we’re bombarded with so much information and the uncertainty in front of us. That’s why it’s so important to take it one step at a time. Think about where you’re starting and what your end goal is and start with what you need to do today, tomorrow, or this week to get closer to that. Break it up into baby steps if necessary. The further you get on this path and the more you try things out, the more clear you are on what you need to do to get closer to your goal. Soon enough, taking small actions will become more natural to you, and you may even begin to have fun throughout the process! 

Here’s to being happier and more fulfilled humans :)

Nina Popovic is a fourth-year student majoring in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, and minoring in Communications at the University of Ottawa.