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Find your purpose or die unhappy

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All right, I will admit I may have cranked up the dramatic factor in the headline, but it’s not far from the truth.

A new study in Psychological Science found a link between finding a sense of purpose and human life spans. According to the report, during the study’s 14-year follow-up period, 569 of the 6,000 participants died, and those who passed away had lower self-reported purposes in life and fewer positive relations.

“Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” lead researcher Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada, said.

“So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”

While the researchers are currently working on finding out if having a purpose will encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles, I think it’s about time we reflect on our lives and make sure we’re on track to personal and professional fulfillment.

Figure out what makes you happy

This is easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. As you go about your day both inside and outside the office, make an effort to identify which activities boost your positivity. It could be something as simple as helping a colleague achieve a team goal or being able to spend more time at dinner with the family. Pin pointing these happy trigger points will help you better manage your energy, ultimately making you a happier and more productive person.

Need help? Ask yourself that age-old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Answer it truthfully and evaluate to see if you’re doing everything you can to get there. It’s never too late to start.

Fuel your interests

I am guilty of believing that hobbies are something 12-year-old kids worked on after school. As adults, it’s just as important to make sure you’re doing something that is self-serving, giving you time away from the desk and the stress that comes with it. Maybe you love building model planes or shooting hoops after work. Or perhaps you share editor Rebecca Lewis’ love for painting.

While hobbies don’t necessarily have a direct impact on your work, taking time out indulging in something you enjoy gives the brain a chance to unwind and improve your creativity.

Adopt strong role models

Make a list of people who inspire you, and what it is about them that you admire. Are those traits something you can emulate? What is one thing you can do differently everyday which will make you more similar to your idol? Having someone to aspire to could help you shape your purpose and be a better person while at it.

Don’t over think it

I really believe you’re the only one who can really figure out your purpose, and it’s really important you don’t pressure yourself into finding out. Some people are lucky enough to realise what it is they’re meant to be doing (and be great at it!) while others may take a while to get there. Make concerted efforts to find your purpose and hopefully lead more fulfilling lives, but stressing out too much about it will defeat the point.

If you would like to share how you found your passion and purpose, or have advice for others who are still working it out, leave a comment below.

[ALSO READ: The one thing you need to increase job satisfaction]

Image: Shutterstock 

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Sabrina Zolkifi
Deputy editor
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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