January is International Quality of Life Month. This first month of the year symbolizes a new beginning and is a great time to reflect on the quality of your life and its purpose.

While evaluating your quality of life, you may think about your relationships, community, work, school, finances, health, fitness, spirituality or other segments of your life.

Closely related to quality of life is life purpose. Identifying your life purpose is a key part of celebrating what you bring to the world and how you contribute to your own and others' quality of life.

We all have a need to find purpose in life. Some people find a way to express their purpose in their jobs; others seek opportunities outside their daily work. Regardless of how we do it, we all seek to find how we can best contribute to life.

Dick Leider, author of The Power of Purpose, asked adults 65 and older, "If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?" The answers consistently included these three themes:

  • Be more reflective
  • Be more courageous
  • Be clear earlier about purpose

Following up on the idea of purpose, Leider learned that:

  • People seem to have a natural desire and capacity to contribute to life.
  • Purpose is unique to each individual.
  • People can learn from, but not adopt, the purpose of another.
  • People typically bring up the question of purpose about every 10 years throughout their lives.
  • Working on purpose gives people a sense of direction.
  • The key to acting on purpose is for people to bring together the needs of the world with their unique gifts in a vocation.

Take a minute to reflect: What do you think your life purpose is? Where do you, or where could you, bring your unique gifts to help others?

How to Identify Your Purpose?

At this point, you're nodding along and thinking "Sure, this sounds great, but where do I start?"

Identifying your life purpose is not a quick, easy task. It's big. It's important. But not to worry. Here are some ideas to help you get started on your life purpose journey:    

  • Reflect: Review the day's events each evening for five or ten minutes to determine which experiences were life-giving, and which were life-draining.
  • Meditate: Meditating can be another path to self-knowledge and it has numerous other benefits. Modern technology actually shows positive changes in the bodies and brains of meditators.
  • Journal: A journal can be a good way to reflect. You might write about some basic questions: What experiences give me life? What experiences drain life?
  • Document Your Dreams: While very few dreams are prophetic, they can provide precise insights into personal needs, desires, and concerns.
  • Pray: Research shows that prayer, in whatever form you use, benefits health through the physiological effects of positive emotion. You might select a daily reading (for example, a psalm or an excerpt from a book of meditations).

Read more about how to identify your life purpose.

Life Purpose Resources

 

Websites

Spirituality & Health http://www.spirituality-health.com/spirit

The Purpose Project http://purposeproject.org

Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health http://www.spiritualityandhealth.duke.edu

Life Balance Institute http://www.lifebalance.org

Meditation Society of America http://www.meditationsociety.com

Spirit Rock Meditation Center http://www.spiritrock.org

Worldwide Online Meditation Center http://www.meditationcenter.com

The Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD) http://www.asdreams.org

The Twelve Peace Prayers http://www.csle.org/peace_prayers.htm

The World Peace Prayer Society http://www.worldpeace.org/main.html 

The World Prayers http://www.worldprayers.org

Life Purpose Center http://www.lifepurposecenter.com

Books

Adams, K. (1990). Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth - Open the Door to Self-Understanding by Writing, Reading, and Creating a Journal of Your Life. Warner Books.

Adrienne, C. (2001). Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life: Getting to the Heart of Your Life's Mission. Perennial Currents.

Arnold, J.C. (2000). Seeking Peace: Notes and Conversations Along the Way. Plume Books.

Bailey, J. (1998). Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How To Create A More Peaceful, Simpler Life From the Inside Out. Harper San Francisco.

Baldwin, C. (1991). Life's Companion. Bantam.

Bronson, P. (2002). What Should I Do With My Life? Random House.

Clinebell, H.J. (1992). Well Being: A Personal Plan for Exploring and Enriching the Seven Dimensions of Life: Mind, Body, Spirit, Love Work, Play, the World. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Dossey, L. (1996). Healing Words: The power of prayer and the practice of medicine. Harper: San Francisco.

Edwards, P., Edwards, S. (2001). Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way: Managing the Six Stages of Change at Work and in Life. Penguin Putnam.

Keating, T. (1988). Open Mind, Open Heart. New York: Amity House (classic text).

Leider, R. (1997). The Power of Purpose. San Francisco, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Leider, R., Shapiro, D. (2002). Repacking Your Bags. San Francisco, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Leider, R., Shapiro, Dr. (2004). Claiming Your Place at the Fire. San Francisco, Calif.: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Neimark, N.F., MD (2000). The Handbook of Journaling: Tools for the Healing of Mind, Body & Spirit, 2nd edition. R.E.P. Technologies.

Palmer, P. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life. Jossey-Bass.

Palmer, P. (2000). Let Your Life Speak. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass Inc.

Prochaska, J.O., Norcross, J.C., Diclemente, C.C. (1994). Changing for Good. New York: Avon Books.

Ruiz, D.M. (1997). The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Amber-Allen Publishing.

Salzberg, S. (2002). Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience. Riverhead Books.

Senn, L.C. (2001). The Many Faces of Journaling: Topics & Techniques for Personal Journal Writing. Pen Central Press.

Sheehy, G. (1995). New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time. Random House Inc.

Wagner, D. (2003). Life As a Daymaker: How to Change the World by Simply Making Someone's Day. Jodere Group.

Weiler, N., and Schoonover, S. (2001). Your Soul at Work: Five Steps to a More Fulfilling Career. Hidden Spring, Mahwah, NJ.

Whyte, D. (2002). Crossing the Unknown Sea. Riverhead Books.