05/05/2013 09:35 am ET Updated Jul 05, 2013

Getting Clear on Your Purpose

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"Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but fidelity to a worthy purpose." -- Helen Keller

In my last blog post, I talked about the alignment of energy to your purpose. That if you really connect to your purpose and keep it in the forefront, the spark of that inspiration will make sure that you have all the energy you need to fulfill it. And I mentioned that Huna teaches you don't have to go out on safari to seek out your purpose. It's always with you.

But I had several people tell me that they don't really know what their purpose is and they don't know how to reveal it in themselves. Bummer!

In ancient Hawaii, there were certain family members (kupuna) or masters whose particular expertise was to divine a young person's purpose. Parents would take their children to these experts early on so they could raise each child according to his or her true purpose. The child's purpose wasn't determined by test scores, or aptitude assessments, or based on who the child's parents were. Instead, the kahuna would sense each child's true nature, the very core of who the child was and who he or she could become.

Once a child's true purpose was identified, their upbringing was tailored to match it. They were sent to a kumu (teacher) who could teach them the skills and knowledge connected to their purpose. If a child was identified as a builder, she was given tools of her craft. If he was revealed to be a healer, he was given herbs and taught to identify medicinal plants. A little drummer was given drums and sent to play with other musicians. A mini-fisherman was given a net and sent to learn about the ocean.

Not exactly the way most modern school systems work, is it?

Today, our children are pushed into a mold that emphasizes left-brain thinking. We expect each child to complete the same standard curriculum. Our little dancers are told to sit still and our budding storytellers are told to keep quiet. Tiny spiritual leaders are told that they need to be more "realistic" and small builders are told, "Don't touch that!" These children "fail" if they don't conform or score within a certain percentile on standardized tests.

It doesn't stop after school. We have bosses and pay scales and the media telling us what success looks like. It looks like having certain things -- the house, the car, the portfolio. And to have those certain things, we're told we have to do certain things -- enter that lucrative profession, work hard, play the game, climb the ladder. It's got nothing to do with who we are, our true nature.

It's no wonder that many of us get to adulthood and still don't know our purpose or who we're meant to be.

Maybe you've been lucky. Maybe you had parents, like I did, who saw your true nature and supported it. Or maybe you were stubborn enough to stick with what your gut told you no matter what the world around you tried to force on you.

But if you're starting from ground zero -- i.e. "I don't have a clue what I'm supposed to be doing with my life!" -- no worries. You're in good company. Immediately dropping into your great, big, hairy, totally significant purpose might be a stretch. But if we start smaller, step by step, we can follow the thread to your larger purpose.

Start with one area. Maybe it's health and fitness. Maybe it's relationships. Start with just one facet of your life. (And honestly? It will be easier if you start with an area that's working rather than one that's a mess!) On a piece of paper, write down what that area is. Next, fill out the entire page (or more if you need it) describing what fulfillment in that area looks like for you. This is your definition, not your parents' or society's definition. Don't edit yourself. Instead, just keep writing until you feel complete.

Next, ask the question, "Why?" Why does this represent fulfillment or happiness to you? Why does this feel fulfilling? For example, if your topic is health and fitness and part of your definition is "consistent vitality," why would consistent vitality make you happy? Is it so you can be a loving parent to your children? Is it so you can contribute to the consciousness of the planet? Keep asking "why" until your gut instinct tells you that you've landed on the truest answer.

Run this exercise through all the areas of your life: career, health and fitness, relationships, spirituality, family, and personal growth. As you do so, you'll start to find a pattern or theme that will lead you to a sense of your overall purpose.

The next step is to take action on that purpose. Create some SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed) and start taking the steps you need to take. You'll find that, when your goals and action steps are backed by your true purpose, you will have all the energy you need to do all you want to do. As I was taught in Huna, when you are following your heart and doing what you are meant to do, it isn't called "work." It feels like an inherent part of your life and who you are.

Dr. Matt

Got questions? Please respond here or contact me through my Facebook fan page or my blog.

About the Author: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, where students learn Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna and Hypnosis. To find out more about SMART Goals, access Dr. Matt's free webinar SMART GOALS: Combining NLP, Energy, and Goal Setting to Maximize Your Success.

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