Finding your purpose using your past, present, and future

This piece about finding your purpose is real. Real to the point, I don’t even have much of an intro to add!

So, let’s get straight into this article from Kimberly over at Kimberly Conquers.

True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. – Helen Keller

Finding your purpose using your past, present, and future

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a question you’ve probably been asked hundreds of times yet still can’t answer.

Even if you went to college and chose a major. Even if you’ve long since graduated and are successfully pursuing a career. Even if you’ve started your own business.

Finding your purpose may still feel surprisingly challenging even if you’ve achieved a high level of success up to this point.

That’s because finding your purpose isn’t linked to establishing a career, upward financial mobility, or achieving goals.

It’s a completely inward process and self-reflection isn’t the type of thing we’re taught to do.

You aren’t going to find your purpose today after reading this blog post. You won’t find it tomorrow or the day after that.

It’s a journey.

But you will walk away with three practical ways to begin the journey of finding your purpose.

One that asks you to reflect on your past, one that asks you to observe your present and one that asks you to visualize your future.

The #1 Step to Finding Your Purpose

This worksheet will help identify roadblocks to finding out just who you are, and who you’re meant to be. Get out of your own way, and get clear on what it is you’re meant to do.

Finding your purpose by reflecting on your past

When you talk to many elite athletes, musicians, and entrepreneurs they often muse that their passion for whatever it is they do began as a child.

We revere these people as abnormal prodigies but the reality is that we all had things we were unusually good at as children.

The difference is most of us don’t end up using those childhood talents to make money, so we forget about them.

Finding your purpose means finding something that you don’t have to force yourself to do.

That’s why childhood is a great place to being the search. What we’re good at as children is natural.

If you had to pour hours into learning biology and hated every moment of it then it’s unlikely that your purpose is to become a doctor.

It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but it’s probably not your purpose.


Five questions to ask about your childhood:

  • List the types of games and activities you did as a child. Don’t limit this to structured activities – it can be totally frivolous, like hide and go seek. Which ones were you good at?
  • Think about early childhood, grade school, and high school. Write down anything at each stage that came very easily to you.
  • Think about your parents or whoever raised you. What do you remember them being really good at when you were growing up?
  • Think back to the first time you remember knowing what you wanted to be when you grew up. Write that down, along with others occupations or dreams you wanted to pursue. Also, note why you wanted to be that thing and why you changed your mind. What jumps out at you?
  • What did other kids come to you for? For example, my siblings and peers constantly asked me to help them with researching, writing, and editing papers.

The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are going. – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.


Finding your purpose by observing your present

If you’re reading a blog post about finding your purpose it’s probably because you don’t feel like you’re living it today.

However, what you’re doing today can still give you valuable insight. The trick is to slow down and intentionally look for those clues.

Your purpose should be something that energizes you. There are likely aspects of what you’re currently doing that do align with your purpose. If you can identify those things throughout your day, you can start to find ways to do more of them.

Doing more of what fuels you gets you closer to your purpose than you were the day before.

Identify what gives you energy and what drains you:

  • If you have a journal you’re using to track this journey, you’ll want to use it for this activity. If you don’t, you’ll need some way to record your findings.
  • Date the top of the page and create at least two weeks’ worth of pages. Divide the page into two columns: Energy (+) and Energy (-).
  • For at least the next two weeks, record the things that occur during your day that either make you feel super energized and alive or make you feel super drained, unhappy, or frustrated. This can be at work, school, and home.
  • You don’t have to record every single thing that happens, only the things that elicit strong feelings in one direction or the other. For example, being given a project at work that really excites would go in the Energy (+) column. Having to catch up on end of month admin might go in the Energy (-) column.
  • Once you’ve tracked for at least 2 weeks, go back through and highlight things that are recurring. Are there more recurring themes in the Energy (+) or Energy (-) column?

Nothing is more likely to help a person overcome or endure troubles than the consciousness of having a task in life.  –  Victor Frankl


Finding your purpose by visualizing your future

You’ve probably given thought to where you’d like to be in ten years, five years or by the end of this year.

These techniques can help you identify tangible goals but won’t help you identify what really matters to you and why.

That doesn’t make them bad, it just means that they aren’t really getting you any closer to your purpose.

Instead, you can use visualization to explore what your perfect day would look like. Because ultimately, we want to find our purpose so that we can live that day.

We want to see, create, and do things that make us feel fulfilled.


Visualize your perfect day by asking yourself these questions:

  • Think about the time before your perfect day starts. Where are you? Who’s there? What does your morning before work (or whatever you’re going to do) look like?
  • Okay! Time to start your day! What projects are you working on today? What problems are you solving? What goals are you working towards?
  • Who are you working with? What is your relationship to them? What do they admire about you? What do you admire about them?
  • As the day comes to an end – list five things about the day that rocked!
  • After your day ends, you have some time to yourself. What are you taking some time to do? Who are you spending the time with? What are you grateful for today?

In thinking about the perfect day you visualized, what made the day great? Was there any part of it that made you especially excited?

More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent. – Billy Sunday

Putting it all together

Now you’re ready to put it all together! Take some time to identify things that show up in all three places.

For example, maybe as a kid you were always the one who pulled all of the other neighborhood kids together for kickball games. In your current role, you might really love planning, organizing, and leading team meetings. When you visualize your perfect day, maybe it includes planning a large scale conference.

These could be clues that your life’s purpose involves galvanizing other people around a shared cause or idea.

Discovering your purpose basically boils down to finding these common themes. It’s not about a singular, great achievement.

Instead, it’s about identifying ways to spend the limited time you have on things that you enjoy and add value to your life and the lives of others.

Kimberly is a Millennial career woman, wife, and mom to be currently living in Chicago. Kimberly decided to found Kimberly Conquers to put her life experiences, curiosity, and love of research to good use by curating the absolute best information to help other women design their dream lives. By day, Kimberly works as a Learning & Development Manager and has spent over a decade building a successful career working for top brands in the fashion industry.


Always be happy,