How to find your life purpose: 8 questions to ask yourself

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Are you still looking for your life purpose?

If yes, you’re not alone. We feel this internal pressure to have things all figured out, but the truth is that most people are still searching for their purpose.

And it can be hard to even know where to start.

I know I really struggled with this until not too long ago. I now know what my purpose is, but I remember how lost and frustrated I felt, so I want to help others who may be in the same boat. 

So I put together this list of 8 questions to ask yourself.

If you want to know how to find your life purpose, hopefully this guide will give you the answers you need.

1) What brings you joy?

We’re going to kick off the 8 questions to find your life purpose with the 4 Ikigai questions.

What’s Ikigai? It’s a Japanese concept that defines your life purpose as the intersection of four things.

The first of them is your passions. In other words, things you really love to do.

Notice where you get joy from your life. Your hobbies are the first thing to consider, but it could be more subtle than that too.

For example, a friend of mine admitted to me that she gets joy from cleaning.

Does this mean her purpose is to be a cleaning woman? Not necessarily. It’s important to dig deep and consider what exactly is it that sparks joy in you.

In my friend’s case, she loves being able to clearly and immediately see the effects of her efforts in her apartment.

So while her calling may not include Windex, she knows that her purpose is something that she can see the concrete effects of. 

2) What are you good at?

The second question to ask yourself to discover your life purpose is what you’re good at.

What are your talents?

We tend to be our own worst critic, and so it can be difficult to recognize your own strengths. If you struggle with this, try asking your friends what strengths they recognize in you.

This could be specific skills, like repairing computers, or it could be something general, like finding patterns in a lot of data. 

Even if someone points out something that doesn’t feel immediately true to you, make sure to consider it. Sometimes our strengths are things that we’re completely blind to ourselves!

3) What does the world need?

The third part of Ikigai, and another question to help you find your life purpose, is what the world needs.

Because I could be really good at bouncing a ping pong ball off a racket, but that probably isn’t something anyone on the planet needs me to do. 

A purpose fulfills an important role in the world, and is relevant to people around you. However, of course, that’s not the only thing to consider.

For example, there is definitely a need for more doctors in my area, but my purpose is definitely not to be a doctor.

How can you narrow this down? It’s by taking into account all the other questions in this list, and in particular the first four. 

As mentioned at the beginning, these four questions make up the Japanese concept of “Ikigai”, which is meant to help you uncover your big purpose in life. 

4) What can you get paid for?

Nobody likes to talk about money — it seems almost dirty to bring it into a discussion about something so meaningful as your life purpose.

But at the end of the day, the truth is you need to earn a living somehow. 

And what better way to do it than through your life purpose?

If you can make your passion and your strengths into something that both helps people AND keeps you fed, you’ve hit the real jackpot.

To find the answer to this question, try to research job offers for things that came up in answer to the first three questions. 

Or, do some research to see if other people are doing something similar, and succeeding at it. (Though if not, don’t let that stop you! There is always a first.)

Finally, you could try advertising a service or product first, and see if people are willing to pay you for it.

5) What problems and setbacks do you prefer having?

In a discussion about how to find your life purpose, it can feel weird to think about what kind of problems you prefer.

None of us really *like* misfortunes — so what does this question even mean?

Well, let me explain. Nobody in life is immune to problems. They come whether you like it or not, and everyone gets their fair share.

The only difference is what kind of problems you will have. And while this isn’t completely predictable, there are certain patterns that particular jobs and pursuits come with

If you’re a manager, you can expect to have problems dealing with people. As an investor, you may run into problems with lost money. If you go for a life in the spotlight, you have to put up with people saying mean things about you online. 

Your life purpose has to be something where you’re willing to tolerate and work on the problems you get. 

If there’s anything in particular where you hate dealing with the drawbacks more than you like the benefits, it may be better to choose a different path. 

6) What could you spend all day talking about?

Another big question to help you find your life purpose is what you’re able to talk about all day.

Think back to your recent conversations, and you may notice a pattern there.

But if not, these more specific questions can help:

  • If you were locked into a room with a total stranger and had to talk to them for 3 hours, what topic of conversation would you most like it to be?
  • If you had to fill a whole notebook with writing about something in just 1 day, what would you think to write about?

Still drawing a blank? Ask your friends. If you don’t even realize that you talk their ears off about something, I’m sure they do. 

7) If you had 2 months of free time, how would you spend them?

You’ve probably been asked already, if you had a million dollars how would you spend it?

Questions like these are actually pretty hard to answer. When money comes into the question, our rational thinking often kicks in and we start thinking about putting into savings, investing into a home, or giving it to a charity, or another very reasonable type of answer. 

So a better question, with much less conditioning around it, is how you would spend free time.

Imagine you get 2 months off of work, with no consequences to your job security. You have enough money to live comfortably for these two months at the same standard of life, without it affecting your savings. 

What would you do with this time?

The truth is, time is a much more valuable resource than money, because there’s nothing we can do to get more of it.

So this is a key question to ask yourself to find your life purpose. 

8) What would you want your grandchildren to say about you?

Because a life purpose is something that gives meaning to us in our lifetime. But at the end of the day, it extends much further past it. 

So the last question to ask yourself for finding your life purpose is: when you’re gone, what would you want your grandchildren to say about you?

How would you want them to remember you? How would you want them to describe you to other people that have never met you?

If you go down in history, how would you want yourself to be written about?

This is an important question because it makes you think about your legacy, and the dent that you leave in the universe. 

Because the real point of a life purpose is the impact we create on the world and others around us. 

The trick to finding your life purpose

Finding your life purpose is no piece of cake. (If it was, thousands of people like you wouldn’t still be struggling with it!)

But it can become much simpler if you know the right questions to ask yourself.

These 8 should give you a great start. Remember that it’s not enough to just ask yourself these questions — you have to be willing to spend time pondering them, and reach deep inside yourself to find answers to them that resonate deep within your soul.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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