Here’s The Answer To The #1 Question Life Coaches Get

As a Life Coach in Brooklyn, probably the most common thing I hear in my first session with a new client is: “I’m just not sure what I should be doing with my life.”

While a handful of people actively dislike their current job, most others are just caught in what I call the “Millennial Malaise.” They don’t hate what they’re doing, but they are plagued by a deep discomfort that stems from knowing that they’re not really living in a way that’s aligned with their life’s larger purpose.

And yet, they’ve stayed so long in their job because they haven’t actually uncovered their life’s purpose. So they wait, and they wait, hoping that this answer will one day magically appear in front of them, and shine a glowing light on the way forward. Or worse, they lose hope completely and resign to a life of never really feeling excited about getting out of bed in the morning.

But here’s the dirty little secret about your life’s purpose: It’s not something you find, it’s something you cultivate. Everything you’ve done until this point in your life is a part of your life’s purpose. You’ve spent years discovering what you like, what strengths you have, what you value, and what brings out the best in you. You simply haven’t been paying close attention to these insights, bringing them together, or letting them guide you.

So to bring this knowledge to the forefront, I start by asking my clients these 10 questions:

  1. What do you love to do when you have spare time?
  2. What parts of your present job do you thoroughly enjoy? Why?
  3. What do you do naturally well?
  4. What have been your 10 greatest successes till date in your eyes? What makes each one of these a success for you?
  5. Is there a cause or value or quality which you feel passionate about?
  6. What are the 10 most important lessons you have learned in your life? What makes each lesson significant, and how do you apply what you learned?
  7. Think back over your life. Are there some issues or perceived problems that have occurred over and over again?
  8. Imagine you are writing your epitaph. What do you want to be remembered for? What things will your life be incomplete without?
  9. What do you daydream about doing?
  10. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Once we’ve answered these questions, we narrow down the responses to glean the most important aspects of their answers. And without exception, every single client has at least one dominant theme that emerges. Once this theme is staring them in the way, they smile with relief as I say: “That, my friend, is your life’s purpose. See? It was with you all along, growing as you grow.”

For one person, it may be: “helping women find their voice.” For another, it could be: “making the world a more beautiful place.” The answers are as diverse as human bodies, but there is always something that stands out as extremely important throughout each person’s life.

“But wait! I know what my life’s purpose is now, but how do I actually align my life with it?”

While your life’s purpose will stay relatively unchanged throughout your lifetime, how you choose to express it at any particular moment will modify as your life’s circumstances evolve. And usually, there are many good options for how to work towards fulfilling your purpose, not just one right answer. Simply look back to the answers to those 10 questions and come up with 5 potential pathways to honor your purpose that align with your skills, experience, and curiosity. If your life’s purpose is “to help women find their voice,” for example, perhaps you could start a female mentoring program at your company. Or dedicate yourself to conscious parenting of your daughters and their friends. Or volunteer at an organization that focuses on women’s rights. Or begin writing creative essays about strong female protagonists. The list is endless, and you’ll always have choices.

So what are you waiting for? Your purpose has been shadowing you all your life. There’s nothing to wait for, nothing to discover. The time to express yourself bravely, to mindfully advance your life’s purpose, is now.

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