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5 Simple Tips for Finding Your Life's Purpose

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I wasn't raised to believe that your job and life can co-exist as one. My parents commuted to their desk jobs in the City every day. My dad was an accountant, which seemed beyond boring, albeit very helpful during tax season! My mom worked at the U.N., but when I visited her at work as a child, I was convinced that her job consisted of sifting through papers. Both of them were working hard for their paychecks and pensions.

Ever since I was laid off from my corporate position, I made it my mission to find a career that didn't feel like a job. I wanted work that felt natural, like cooking dinner. Yes, I can cook; don't look so shocked!

My mission led me to a gifted career coach named Kristina Leonardi, who took part in a Finding Your Purpose workshop I organized this past week.

During Kristina's talk, I was reminded how my parents always emphasized the importance of a secure career. I think my mother prayed that I would study economics and gave me a decided thumbs-down when I returned home from college with a psychology degree. No worries, though; I'm sure she just wanted her only daughter to live the good life.

Today, times are a changin'. Our generation has learned that we have no choice but to find jobs in line with our true purpose. "Where is the job security today? Even the most traditionally 'secure' jobs can no longer make that claim. Bankers, lawyers, top executives, hospital and government employees and educators are losing jobs, and struggling to find new positions in their fields," Kristina said.

She emphasized that this turbulent economic time, more than ever, is forcing us to dig deep, do more soul searching, find meaningful work that meshes perfectly with who we really are and create the life we want -- no matter what our family, friends or colleagues think. Boy, can they chatter!

Kristina offered the group some amazing tools for staying focused and finding your purpose:

Get to Know Yourself: We are so influenced by external forces that many of us are out of touch with our deepest desires and passions. The ancient Greek philosophers advised, "Know Thyself." Seek out classes, mentors and coaches to help you reach the core of who you are.

Get Paid to Be Who You Are: Think of Oprah, Rachel Ray and Dr. Oz; they all get paid to be themselves and do what they love. Maybe you're not cut out for prime time, but it's integral to realize that people are finding success just by being true to who they are.

Think Forward, Then Back: Not to be morbid, but how do you want to be remembered when you kick it? Take a few minutes to think about your legacy. What do you want to leave behind after your time in this world? Your answers will give you more clues to your purpose.

Take Advantage of Your Effortless Skills: Don't knock the things you do well, big or small. The skills that come easily and effortlessly are the ones you should value the most. For example, are you an amazing listener? You might be surprised that listening is a valuable skill that many people don't have. Don't take your gifts for granted; they were given to you for a reason.

Have Courage: The universe rewards risk. Take a step in the direction of your passion and purpose, and opportunities will start coming your way. You first have to make a commitment to go for the gold in your life. Apply for a dream job you never thought possible. Meet with a mentor who lives your fantasy life. Take one step and watch the fun -- and your future -- unfold.

Most importantly, Kristina reminded the group to be patient! Don't live like that high-roller on Wall Street looking for a quick fix and instant gratification; we all know how that story ends! Digging deep and finding your purpose takes time, perseverance and some elbow grease. Love the journey, because it will definitely be the best part.

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