Graduation is a great time of celebration and reflection. It also poses the question: What’s next? Graduates hear it over and over: So now what are you going to do? That can be such a daunting question. I was teaching a Sunday School class a couple of years ago with several graduating high school seniors. I used some tips from Tony Richards’ book, The Big Idea: 52 Ways to Be a Better Leader Now, to help my students begin to identify their life’s purpose.
In Chapter 1, Tony says, “Discovering your life purpose means letting go of self-interest. When you’re highly focused on yourself or meeting your goals in your work, life, and relationships, your purpose becomes obscure. Your ego covers it like clouds blocking the sun. Ego is part of being human, but you must be aware of it and keep it in check. Letting go can help you find your deepest purpose.”
He goes on to say creating a purpose statement for your life is important,because many people don’t know what they are meant to be doing until they are much older. Explore this while you are young to avoid regret later. He says, “There is a huge advantage in being at peace with yourself and understanding why you are on this planet at this particular time. Know that you have a strong contribution to make regarding others.”
He provides a great activity to help give you a clear vision of what your purpose may be:
Set aside a little time where you can think freely.
Get out your journal or a notebook and contemplate the following questions:
- What makes you smile? (activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
- What are your favorite things to do?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What makes you feel great about yourself?
- Who inspires you the most? (family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.)
- Which qualities inspire you in each person?
- What are you naturally good at? (skills, abilities, gifts, etc.)
- What do people typically ask you for help with?
- If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
- What would you regret not fully doing, being, or having in your life?
- What are the challenges, difficulties, and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
- What causes do you strongly connect with?
- How can you use your talents, passions, and values as resources to serve, help, and contribute?
Once you’ve answered these questions,try putting together a few paragraphs that can form your purpose statement for life. Tony says, “This can be a powerful guiding star for your own self-direction.”
I would highly recommend sharing this with all the graduates you have in your life this year. And maybe take a little time to go through this activity yourself. It will change you.
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