Discovering Purpose in Life

Tips for Finding Your Passion

Katharine Chestnut
5 min readApr 13, 2023

It is not uncommon to feel “off track” with our life goals, especially after a few months into a new year when resolutions go stale. I think all of us have felt, at some point, that we lack a sense of direction in life. We are still finding purpose. And while it can be tempting to compare ourselves to others sometimes: the success that other people experience might make us feel inadequate or behind in our own life journey.

The key is finding purpose. Understanding our personal purpose can help us to start living more authentically, and not according to someone else’s life goals. Knowing our purpose is like finding the right way home-and discovering your life purpose often comes down to just asking yourself a few questions.

When Finding Purpose in Life is a Struggle

It can be a struggle to feel like we’re living a purpose-driven life all the time. It’s not always possible to feel passionate about our lives-not everyday brings sunshine or smiles. Not to mention, the past few years have taken a heavy toll on most people’s mental health. All this creates even bigger challenges. Let’s consider:

  • Pew Research reports that 41% of adults in the U.S. “have experienced high levels of psychological distress at least once since the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.”
  • When we experience hardship or trauma, it can be hard to stay motivated to do much of anything. And science acknowledges that “people must meet basic needs for things like food, shelter, and safety before they are easily motivated to pursue aims like self-actualization.”
  • Psychologists have also noted how social media can make it hard for us to behave authentically, when some of us spend so much time online. “It can be valuable for those individuals to reflect on whether their social media presence expresses the full range of their identity so that their community or audience can understand them in a way that aligns with their genuine self,” suggests experts from Psychology Today.

So if you’re struggling to meet your goals, or can’t seem to find passion in what you’re doing, you’re definitely not alone.

*Note: Working with a therapist is also a great way to work through this struggle, and professional support is key if you’re struggling with your mental health.

Tips on How to Find Your Purpose (And Passion)

The topic of what makes a meaningful life isn’t anything new: everyone from Greek philosophers to online influencers has offered discourse on how to find purpose and more passion in life. For me, it’s about serious and in-depth self-reflection, and there are a few questions that help me clarify how I’m feeling, at my core. (Feel free to steal! I also use these as journaling prompts too.)

  1. What is the smallest thing that made me smile today?
  2. Think of a recent struggle I went through. What did I learn about myself?
  3. What are some of my favorite ways to play?
  4. What am I most often grateful for at the end of the day?
  5. What would my 10-year-old self think of me today?
  6. What would my 100-year-old self think?

I also highly recommend doing something very simple: live your life. Too often we obsess over the idea of happiness and complete fulfillment. The fact is, life is not happy 100% of the time. Even the most enviable, successful, healthy life will come with hardships. When you find your life purpose, you’ll discover what makes it all worthwhile and fulfilling.

Living With a Sense of Purpose

You might find that your journey sends you in a few different directions before you have a clear sense of what’s important to you. After all, there isn’t really a guidebook or map with specific steps to discover your purpose.

Personally, I have found the journey the most thrilling thing. What I thought I wanted at 20 (to be an art historian) was vastly different from I wanted at 40 (to be an expert in marketing strategy). Don’t get me wrong, things sucked at times. I knew, even when life was less than inspiring, each choice, each decision, supported my future path.

Or maybe you’re a recovering people-pleaser-putting everyone else’s passions, careers, and needs ahead of yours can often condition us into thinking we don’t deserve a more fulfilling life. But “it’s okay to upset others if all you’re doing is being yourself. You aren’t selfish for saying no, doing things you enjoy instead of doing things for others, and taking time for yourself,” says Dr. Eileen Strauss Cohen for Psychology Today.

Living with purpose takes practice, in fact (and we’ll talk more about this soon). It might be helpful to start by writing a sort of purpose statement for yourself. As I’ve mentioned to my daughter more than once, your purpose will shift and adjust during over your lifetime. We all discover more about the work and skills that bring us more (or less) satisfaction. Your purpose statement will be a living, changing document, but journaling about what a purposeful life looks like to you can help you explore this idea further.

Discover More Passion and Live a Purposeful Life

Living with purpose and authenticity can improve your well-being. In fact, you might find that when you’re not living with purpose, you feel kind of crappy about it. “When people act in ways that violate their self-concept, they may experience negative feelings, ranging from mild discomfort to heavy guilt,” according to Psychology Today.

Finding meaning in life isn’t a linear path-there isn’t a formula to discovering happiness and fulfillment. Living a life with purpose might look like more of an experiment at times, and that’s just fine. Living authentically is an adventure, and one that I hope you relish to the fullest.

Originally published at on April 13, 2023.



Katharine Chestnut

From the world of marketing and sm biz, to self-care and wellness practices. She is committed to help others discover their wisdom.