Four Questions to Ask When Clarifying Your Purpose
It was one of those conversations that was life-changing and eye opening all at the same time. I was sitting in my office - knowing that the time was drawing close to moving on from my current job and yet not having any idea what that next step really was.
You see, over the years I had become good at several things. And I wanted to use those skills and talents and gifts in my next step toward living out my purpose. But for the life of me, I had no idea how to pull those all together into a purpose.
I'm wondering if you can relate? You've got skills. You've got gifts. But what does that all really mean? And how do you confidently find your purpose and walk in it? (pst...the secret is your confidence comes from your faith, but I'm getting ahead of myself)
Back to the conversation. My OM (that's office roommate to you) was asking a simple question. "Why don't you quit and go work at Starbucks and see about this speaking thing?" To be honest, this thought terrified me at the time. I was single. I barely even liked coffee. And wasn't sure this was going to keep Moose in the style he was accustomed to living.
I wanted a "for sure" when it came to my next career and stepping deeper into my life purpose. The question highlighted what I already knew. While I was getting to know myself - I had no idea how that translated into a purpose.
Back then, I was still thinking the only way to your life purpose was through a job. I eventually mustered up the courage to leave that job and learn more about coaching. And in the process, I learned that our life purpose is not so much a job as it is a message. (For more on that, read my Why Finding Your Life Purpose Is A Winding Journey blog post here).
Which still leaves the question, how do you find it? Not to worry, I've got you covered with four questions to ask and answer when it comes to gaining clarity on your life message and finding your purpose.
1. What is your life message?
I know what you're thinking. This question is the whole point and in general not so helpful. You're welcome! Here's the thing: we want answers and we want them now, don't we? We're not sure and we're seeking clarity.
The reality is that our life message or our life's calling is revealed progressively over time. As we learn about our gifts and talents and as we experience life and what we are passionate about, we start to develop a message because of what we've come through and who we've known. So, the first step is just tracing your story. Where have you been? What have you learned? What were those powerful moments that changed your life?
The easiest way to do this is to take out a blank sheet of paper and draw a line. Then start marking it up. Start at the beginning and mark all the way to today. Look at photo albums and social media if it helps you remember significant events. Once you're finished, mark down your take aways. What themes do you see? What was so important you couldn't leave it off your timeline?
There are some life message indicators to look for:
- Soapbox Issues: What ideas and issues do you always talk about or get fired up about?
- Places of impact: Where have you experienced greater impact with others?
- Experiences: what experiences have you had that God can use to help others? What experiences make others want to listen to you?
- Influence: Where do you have influence? How are others drawn to you?
I hate to break it to you, but this is not an hour exercise. This takes some courage and prayer and work. Start with your timeline. Identify any indicators and talk to God about it. While you may not be fully there, are you ready to move on to the other factors?
2. Who is your audience?
Your calling is not just about your gifts and talents and skills. You are blessed to be a blessing. But to whom? Tony Stoltzfus says in his Christian Life Coaching Handbook:
Your audience is important. It is the who your are called to serve. Finding your audience can be a particular people you are passionate about like teenagers or those facing financial difficulties or those looking for help with health and nutrition.
If you're still unclear, Tony has some subquestions for us to answer to help us determine:
- Who is your message for? Who needs to hear it?
- Who are you drawn to and who is drawn to you?
- Who would this message have the greatest impact on?
Keep looking for a people or need that you are passionate about.
3. What is your task?
Every life purpose includes some kind of task. Your task can be one thing or a series of tasks that is the most effective conduit for your life message. This is where your wiring comes in. If you're a talented writer, your task may be to write about your message. Some questions to ask are:
- What are some unique ways you can express your gifts and skills?
- How can your unique wiring impact your audience and your message?
- How can I express my experiences using my skills?
- What do I want to change or save others from because I went through it?
4. What is your impact?
The reason to ask all these questions and to determine our life message is to have an impact. But the impact is specific. Your impact should answer the "why" of your calling and life message.
My end goal as I coach women is to empower them to have an impact for the kingdom of God. Our goal with our impact is to serve real people with the experience and gifts we have received. Some questions to clarify your impact:
- How will your audience's lives be changed from your impact?
- How can your people see Jesus in what you do?
- How does your calling have an eternal impact?
In my early 30s, I couldn't wait to find my calling. In fact, I was so impatient that I made most of the people around me miserable with my impatience. Finding your life purpose and answering these questions takes time.
Here's what I love: our life purpose is revealed over time. Time to learn about ourselves and the way God wired us. Time to have life experiences and relationships and learn how to be emotionally healthy. Time to gain confidence in who we are and how we can keep contributing to the kingdom of God.
Here's what I've learned on my quest to find my ultimate purpose. It's not a race. There's no rush to get there. Our main priority is to become. Become more like Jesus. It's a journey of learning and growing. And you and I, we can find purpose in our everyday lives by embracing each moment and letting God lead the way. Step out of the boat, friends, and trust God to clarify your purpose.
Clarifying your purpose is hard work! But if you're looking for a little clarity or want to see what life coaching is all about, I have you covered. Did you know I offer a free no-obligation initial coaching session here at One Foot Coaching? I'd love to sit down with a cup of coffee and talk life purpose, courage and stepping out of the boat in faith.