Five Steps to Purpose and Meaning

I woke up this morning in pain, feeling exhausted. Having purpose and meaning is what has kept me going these past few months, in spite of the pain.

I have gone through a series of tests and nothing significant has shown up. So, this morning, I ordered a new mattress. Maybe that will be the answer.

One of the experiences I appreciated was a Joy Fuel session with Anna Hall, founder of the Purpose Equation. In my Joy Fuel session, I realized that I get the fuel that feeds my purpose through engaging authentically and intimately with people; engaging in natural settings, and creating an environment full of calm, sensory experiences. My diffuser emitting the fragrance of cloves and tangerine in my office helps set the mood every day. Also music. I feel much better when there is music playing.

Purpose is how we give and get meaning and joy every day.

Anna explained that you need to have some fuel inside of you so that you have the energy to give and get that meaning every day.

The question that I hear often is, “how do I find my purpose, or do I even have a purpose?” Many of us found purpose through the work we did. Without the recognition and responsibility of the full-time career, it is not always evident where we will find meaning and purpose in our lives.

In my coaching program, “What’s Next?” I offer many tools to help people like you find the meaning and purpose in the next phase of life.

Five steps to finding purpose and meaning

Here are 5 suggestions I would make for identifying your purpose and finding meaning in your life.

  1. Think about when you have felt the most satisfied, when you experienced joy.
  2. Analyze your values. Where are they showing up in your life?
  3. Examine your life experiences and look for patterns.
  4. Try on different ideas and opportunities.
  5. Trust the process

Think about when you have felt the most satisfied, when you experienced joy.

Identifying what brings you joy is a key step in finding your purpose. Joy is a feeling of pleasure, contentment, and delight, and it is important to recognize what brings you joy in order to better understand yourself and find your purpose. Joy can be found in many activities, such as engaging in hobbies or spending time with family and friends. It can also come from simple everyday moments, like taking a walk or enjoying that first cup of morning coffee.

One way to identify what brings you joy is to take the time to reflect on the moments in your life that make you feel fulfilled and the most gratified.

  • Think about what activities or experiences bring you the most joy and why.
  • Consider the things that make you smile, laugh, or feel a sense of peace and contentment.
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings about these moments and use them to develop a list of activities that bring you joy. This list can be used as a source of inspiration when you are feeling low or unmotivated. Remember, joy is personal and unique to each of us, so don’t be afraid to explore and experiment in order to find what brings you joy.

Analyze your values. Where are they showing up in your life?

Values are principles people live by. There are two types of values: Fear-based and conscious-based values. Values based on fear are the ones that cause us to take action to avoid something. They are the “have-to” values or “you-should” values.

Conscious values allow people to take positive actions. They are the “want to” and “choose to” values.

Before you get to creating the life that will bring you joy, meaning and fulfillment, it is important to think about your Core Values. These may have changed slightly since you retired, but many of your core values are always there, although they may not have been a part of your everyday life for a while.

You can find lists of values if you do an internet search. This will help you get started. Put some time and thought into this. What values are you honoring when you feel really good about something you are doing or have done? What values were you ignoring when you were upset with actions or choices you made or are making?

Examine your life experiences and look for patterns.

The essence of this is that we’re all telling ourselves a story about who we are. And many of us are not aware of what that story is. Sometimes, that story is filled with words that are not uplifting or the fears are prominent. Your story may be based on the belief “I should do this.”

Initially I encourage my clients to write their life story, what were their successes, their failures? Who had the most influence in their life? What did they enjoy, and what did they feel forced to do. I tell them to spend as much time as they need to really get a clear picture.

Next, I urge my clients to write a vision using all the things they learned about themselves that they want to keep. We all have so many things that are right with us. Our values, our strengths, what brings us joy, how we help others. Weaving those into a narrative, a vision for this next life phase, is energizing. It brings clarity to the things that will bring you meaning and purpose.  

Try on different ideas and opportunities.

With the clarity that comes from reviewing your life story, come new thoughts and possibilities.  As we get older, we naturally start focusing on things that really matter to us, things that fill us up. Looking over your values, your vision, where you get joy, start to write down some ways you can live the life you want.

Some of my clients have decided to pursue arts, some to nurture their own creativity. Others to develop programs to share with kids.

One found meaning as a Red Cross emergency volunteer. Another has decided she wants to keep working on a program that empowers women.

Each person pursued these activities with a sense of curiosity. Baby steps, try it out. See how it feels. Remember, you are stretching a comfort zone so it may feel a little bit uncomfortable at first. Does it honor your values? Does it fit your vision? Is it fulfilling? You will know when it is right for you.

Trust the process.

What does it mean to “trust the process?” Trusting the process means showing up with curiosity to do the work you know needs to be done. It means being willing to explore new ideas and opportunities to find what feels right for you. It means you keep doing these things even when you feel like you aren’t finding answers as quickly as you would like to.


For more in-depth work on Purpose, check out Anna Hall at The Purpose Equation.

For one-on-one coaching to dive into creating a fulfilling and energizing plan for What’s Next, contact me a

Leave me a comment, share your thoughts or questions! I love to hear from you.

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