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5 Steps to Start Living With Purpose

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“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” — C.G. Jung

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We live in a high-stress world. The greater the emotional pain, the less transparent and authentic you become. It’s important to learn how to get back to the basics and start living with a purpose again.

On the job, within communities and in the family unit, there is a constant push and pull. We are under pressure to meet our obligations at work and at home. But there is also a lot of emphasis on trying to be what other people need or want us to be.

It’s easy to reach a point where you are simply going through the motions of life. Or worst yet, trying desperately to be what someone else wants you to be.

It’s easy to lose sight of our purpose. It’s possible to lose even yourself under layers of emotional pain and stress. 

Every relationship benefits when you get rid of the toxic environment that surrounds you.  Nobody should feel constantly overwhelmed, unhappy and frustrated. In order to benefit your health, your job, and your relationships, you need to get back to basics.

It’s time to balance the mind-body-spirit dynamic in your own life. You need to find a way to reduce the problems and stress in your life. The only way to do this is to identify the “pain points”. Keep it simple and start now!

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”  Mother Theresa

Here is a five-step plan to enable you to start living with a purpose.

1. List Your “Pain Points”

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Keep in mind that you may find yourself resisting this first step. Don’t be afraid to be honest. Even though this mini-inventory feels threatening, it is guaranteed to have the opposite effect. It is only by acknowledging what really hurts in your life that you can reduce the pain.

Understanding exactly where you are in life and what you are experiencing is vital. Take a pause from whatever you are doing now. It’s time to get in touch with your emotional self.

It’s time to take a look at what’s going on in your mind and your body. You already understand that stress is having a negative impact on your life.

Do a quick emotional inventory and identify the true source of your emotional pain and stress. Don’t focus on the small things (it’s not the deadline, it’s the job). Look at the big picture.

Don’t distract yourself. Take an honest look at the current state of your life. Write it down. Make a list of the five issues, stressors or “pain points” that impact you most in your day-to-day life.

2. Make a Plan

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Now you have a list. You will want to make your plan directly on the list. It tells you exactly where you need to start.

You have shifted to the solutions, away from the problems.

Review the five items on your list. If there is something that you can change, do so now.  

Most of your pain points may require some time and effort to cure. You will need to make a plan. For example, No. 2 on your list may say “Job.” Perhaps you hate your job, but you can’t afford to quit. Now make a plan. Write down under “Job” to update your resume and start looking for a new job. This is just an example; your solution could be to “get a transfer” or “talk to the boss”.  

The goal is to develop a plan to be immediately implemented in your day-to-day life.

As you are planning, you will feel the stress and pain begin to subside.

If you run into more complicated “pain points” (usually relationships), talk to someone you trust. This may be a friend, counselor or another objective 3rd party. You are staying in the solution. Even seeking help is a part of the plan. Write it down.

From the time that you identified the problem, you began to create solutions. When you are facing a problem instead of denying it, it’s like turning the heat off of a pan before it boils over.  

3. Re-focus Your Energy

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You had to stop moving forward in the wrong direction. Now you have shifted into problem-solving mode. Unfortunately, most solutions are not instantly available. You will be working on reducing the stress in your life step-by-step. This is an on-going process.

In the meantime, you need to re-direct your energy and re-focus your direction.

Give yourself permission to be good to yourself!  Watch a movie, take a bubble bath, or just listen to your favorite music. Do something good for you.

4. Take Positive Action

Try something different. You need to shake the dust off your life.  It doesn’t matter if it’s yoga, running, swimming, walking  or jumping jacks. Positive action by channeling the emotional pain and stress into physical activity can give immediate results.

Creative action is also an important element. Any kind of creativity will help. You don’t have to be Picasso to paint. You don’t have to be a great dancer to dance.

You can start new hobbies or return to things that you got too busy to do. Start now to revitalize your life.

Has it been a long time since you played golf or tennis? When’s the last time you went fishing or played chess? Take immediate positive action!

5. Meditate

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Meditation is not as hard as it sounds. Even 5 minutes a day is helpful. Quiet time and reflection has numerous health benefits. Get comfortable and pay attention to your breathing.

There are numerous meditation methods. Daily meditation, even in its simplest forms, is one of the most powerful tools to balance out your life.

Visualize things that make you happy. Allow yourself this focus on your needs. You need to meditate daily.

Meditation can help you maintain a more positive attitude. Experience joy again; you deserve it.

Emotional pain and stress can only be conquered through a holistic approach. You are working on your mind-body-spirit in unison. It’s never too soon or too late to start living with purpose.


  • Amit Sood M.D., M. Sc. Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, in his book “Guide to Stress-Free Living”.

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