What is My Purpose In Life? The 3 Stages of Finding Your Purpose

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I’ve spent about a decade trying to answer that question. I looked for it in books, from gurus, school counselors, life coaches and even psychics. But it only took revisiting my childhood passion to figure out what I always knew:

wish list for a typewriter + hours of making up stories + writing poems when I was 10 + obsessive reading & journal writing =  writer

It took remembering what brought me joy that helped me to find my purpose in life.

Through my own struggles, I’ve learned that there are several stages to the path of finding your purpose.

Stage 1: Actively Looking

You might be in high school or college or have years of work experience behind you, but feel like you missed the boat when it comes to living the life of your dreams. If that sounds like you, you’re in stage 1. This is when you’re most actively searching. Like me you might be taking career quizzes, searching the internet, talking with friends, family and a career counselor or a life coach, or reading a book to help you get clear.

Stage 2: Soul Searching

I’d call stage 1 more of a superficial search. You need to get to that point in order to start getting serious about what you want to do with your life. But to really find out what you want and who you are, you need to reach in deep. To bring out my passion for writing, I had to explore who I was as a child, what mattered most to me, and what brought me the most joy. It’s seems easy, but recalling who you are at your very core takes a bit of courage. There’s a reason why you’re not doing what you love right now. Someone told you a) that you couldn’t do it or b) that you shouldn’t do it so you buried that passion way in deep.

Stage 3: Trusting Your Instincts

Bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says, “Your purpose is not about you.” It’s less about what you want, then about how you can use your innate gifts in service to others. How do we determine what those gifts are? When we learn to not just accept our flaws, but to think of them as strengths we can finally uncover our unique gifts. For example, since I was 7-years-old I would hound my mom with questions. I’ve always been this way annoying new acquaintances and old friends by my curiosity and need to know attitude. I realized after many years that this so-called flaw has enabled me to ask the right questions when it came to interviewing subjects for my writing.

Somewhere deep inside you already know who you are and what you’re meant to do with your life. The answers have been left like breadcrumbs on your path toward your purpose. You’ve just been too afraid, unsure or distracted to notice. All you need to do is to stop the outside noise (your family, your friends, the media that tells you what you should do) and listen to the gift that wants to direct your life.

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Finding the Answers to Your Questions With Life Coach Mary Welty-Dapkus

Martha Beck certified life coach Mary Welty-Dapkus has walked the walk. She consults others in her coaching business Set in Motion because she has not only been through the program, but she’s gone and dealt with the hard parts of life herself. From a five year bout of an un-diagnosable illness to financial hardship, Mary has learned a great deal and is here to share her wisdom and shed a light on some of your own obstacles.

In an inspiring hour, Mary talked with me about the things that hold you back and provides tips and strategies on how to overcome them. And the best part is that she delivers them in such a playful, oh-so-Mary way. You’ll see what I mean below.

Be your own detective.


Confused about what to do with your life? Feel stuck about what steps in your career you need to take next? Mary says you already have all the answers in you. You might just need to go out there and find it.


Start paying attention to everything around you. When you are in your car, turn off your radio. When you are at home, turn off your TV and computer. Sit in silence and begin to ask the questions you have in your mind. Then be your own PI and begin putting a microscope over your life.

To try: Try this handy dandy Martha Beck coaching tip. Keep a journal. Write your questions with your dominant hand and answer them with your nondominant hand.

Instead of going outside to find the answers, from friends, authority figures, family members, start to flex your intuitive muscle by taking notice of everything going on around you. You might start to see the answers you’re looking for inside yourself.

Take turtle steps.


So you’re not where you want to be right at this moment. But envisioning your dream job seems like too much of a leap.

To get from where you are to where you want to be, you don’t have to do big to think big.

In fact, stepping too far outside your comfort zone may make you want to crawl in and hide forever. Instead, Mary suggests making “turtle steps.” Turtle steps are “the smallest infinitesimal step that someone can take that doesn’t shake them to their core. “

To try: Want a career as a freelance writer, but quitting your day job seems too scary to do? Don’t quit. But use your free time to research about others who made the leap from full-time to freelance.

Fill in the Blank and Find Insight

This is one of my favorite exercises Mary had me try too. If you reach a point in your life when you feel like, “you’ve bit off more than you can chew” or you feel stuck, burnt out, or blocked in your life, try this.

To try: Fill in the black with what automatically comes to your mind.

I’ve bit off more than I can chew because ______.

Stress feels like _____ to me.

What you answer could provide insight into what’s blocking you in your life. Mary believes that filling in the blank “bypasses our preconceived notions” and limiting beliefs by answering in a subconscious way.

For example when I did the exercise, I filled in the second sentence with “sticking my finger in an electrical outlet.” I felt that stress was neither good or bad, but like a volt of electricity making my hair stand on end.

Mary used her intuition and said this to me:

“If there is a normal current running and you could just put in a plug, why would you take that next step and stick your finger in there?”

What an “aha” moment that was for me. I think too often I don’t trust the process and I overcompensate for my lack of faith. Instead of letting things be, instead of trusting the fact that there is a natural occurring energy running through my life, I went and stuck my finger in the source. Talk about impatient right?! And talk about hitting the nail on the head.

Mary provided me a lot of insight in our conversation. She made me realize that although we have all the answers to our questions about life, career, and our purpose, sometimes we need someone to point it out to us. Sometimes we need someone to shake things up a bit, help us see a new way of doing things, someone who will help us to break our limited beliefs. I think Mary might be the person to do it. If you think so too and would like more information on her services, please check out her website Set in Motion. Thanks so much Mary!

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