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Still Don't Know Your Purpose? Answer These 7 Questions.

I’m pretty sure that at least once in your life, you’ve heard the ever-so-popular Mark Twain quote that says, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Your birthday? That’s a given. However, when it comes to knowing, without hesitation, what you were put on this planet, for such a time as this, to do, did you know that only 25 percent of individuals say that they do?


Nevermind the fact that studies indicate that knowing what your purpose is will help you to live a longer and healthier life; if you don’t know what you’re here for, that can make another definition of purpose very challenging: setting goals and achieving the things that you really wish to accomplish.

Questions To Ask Yourself To Find Your Purpose

So, what do you do if you find yourself being in the majority in the sense that, even if you have a pretty good job and/or hobbies that you enjoy, deep down, you still feel like you don’t know what your purpose is? First, some quotes:

  • “Find a purpose to serve, not a lifestyle to live.” (Criss Jami)
  • “Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • “What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.” (Margaret Atwood)

And with that framework now laid, as someone who is happy to be among the 25 percent, let me share seven questions that, from my own experience, have helped to confirm to me what my own purpose is — my own “why” when it comes to me being born.

Ask yourself the following 7 questions to find your purpose: 

1. What Brings You Peace?

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I’ve been studying Hebrew for many years now. It’s interesting because something that my mother used to tell me is I’m violent about my peace and my healing (and yes, it’s a play on words by design). Hmph. Maybe that’s why I like the Scripture in the Bible where Christ says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34), and then it goes on to explain certain relationships that needed to be separated for the sake of spiritual evolution and transformation.

Anyway, because I am such a fan of peace (and Hebrew culture; Christ was a Jew, after all — Matthew 27:11), I know that the Hebrew word for it is “shalom.” I also know that it also means things like wholeness, prosperity, and security and that it also speaks to walking in agreement with others (bookmark that). All of this is why I thought that there was no better question to lead this all out with than to sit and ask yourself, “What brings me peace? What makes me feel whole and secure? And what could I do to ultimately bring me prosperity without compromising my peace of mind in the process?”

That last part is a real doozy when you factor in that, reportedly, 85 percent of people hate their job. SMDH. If you take this purpose-related question literally and seriously, could that mean that close to 9 out of 10 people are NOT spending most of their waking hours fulfilling their purpose? Have mercy.

2. What Complements Your Personality?

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The word “complement” basically means something that completes you. Completion is all about “feeling whole” and “lacking nothing.” With that said, the Hebrew meaning of my name is “Mine; Belonging to Me,” which is basically what Ezekiel 16 references which is why it’s like an anchor text or mission statement for me:

“’When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,’ says the Lord God.” — Ezekiel 16:8(NKJV)

My mother said that when she was carrying me, her plans were to name me Ryan, whether I was a boy or a girl. Then, when I came out, she said that God told her to name me “Shellie” instead. When I look back over my life and how so much of it consists of covenant work — marriage, sex, and the biblical Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11 and Hebrews 4) is what I write, speak, and teach on easily 80 percent of the time — I believe her. And you know what? Pretty much all of my 30s and 40s have consisted of me doing something that is tied to those things. I’m a marriage life coach. I’m a doula. I write about sex and relationships. I used to tour with an organization that got people out of the porn industry. I used to be a teen mom director for the local chapter of a national nonprofit. The list goes on and on.

Know what else? Every single gig that I’ve had (including this one at xoNecole) has not asked me to compromise my delivery, my perspective, my qualities — my personality. I mean, even with my first two published books, the publishers came to me. It’s only been when I’ve tried to make myself fit into something that it’s been counterproductive and draining — and oftentimes, “it” wanted me to sacrifice my purpose and passion by altering my personality in order to do it. Red flag…RED FLAG.

So yeah, that’s something else that you need to factor in. Since purpose means “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.,” what sense would it make for you to be out here trying to make stuff happen while acting like someone you’re not…while abandoning the core traits that make you…YOU?

3. What Doesn’t Feel Like (Grueling) Work?

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Do I have days when I open my eyes, look up at the ceiling, and find myself on some, “I absolutely do not feel like banging on my laptop’s keyboard” or “If one more person hits me up about their problems today, chile…”? Yes. I’m human. And because a lot of my work consists of getting all up into the psyche of humanity, it can be exhausting at times. However, do I ever feel like my work is toilsome or grueling? I can honestly say that not one day in my life has that been the case.

Now, do I have moments when I am not in the best of moods? Yeah, but that’s not purpose-related; that’s because I didn’t eat right, get enough sleep, or honor the boundaries that I set so that folks don’t have me out here running on fumes. Yet when it comes to my purpose, overall, though, it excites me, I’m always doing more reading and research on it, and I feel honored that I would be given the kind of work that I do — that I was created for. It feels like a perfect fit to the point where I am still learning to become financially wiser when it comes to what I charge (especially when it comes to my coaching services) because it really is true that when you do what you adore, it oftentimes doesn’t feel like “work” at all.

That said, what do you find yourself doing, even if it’s only in your leisure time, that doesn’t feel like work at all? It doesn’t feel like work AND you know that it is benefitting you and other people at the same time in some way.

This brings me to the next question.

4. What Do You Get Complimented About Often?

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It’s kind of hilarious how “fist in the air” I am (the real ones know what I mean by that) vs. how many white clients I have. Some of them are really white, too — like evangelical white (if you know, you know, chile). If you add that I’ve never been married before (some of us use discernment to avoid being a divorce statistic; real talk), I’m pretty sure you get that many are quite skeptical…initially. That is, until we get a few sessions in, and then there are affirmations galore; no joke.

For instance, a white couple who I’ve been working with for about a year now came to Nashville for a marriage conference. The next time we met (I meet with them separately for now), the husband and wife said to me, “We couldn’t get over how many times we said, ‘Shellie has said that before.’ You really do have a gift.”

It’s another message for another time that a gift is something you naturally have while a talent tends to be an ability that you have to refine (for instance, my brother has the gift of singing while I have a talent for it) yet, I think that the fact that I also study marriage as if my life depended on it, that helps to give me some additional insight and knowledge that even a lot of married folks don’t have (because a lot of people don’t look deeply into marriage let alone marriage as a covenant) — and so, when I share what I’ve learned, compliments come.

That’s why this particular question makes the list. What is something that you do that generally comes with great ease for you that folks think you are amazing at? Another example, is my godchildren’s mom (I see you, Rissi!) recently got shouted out on this platform. People are moved by her singing all of the time, yet she underestimates how good of one she is. A part of it is due to her super beautiful level of humility; another is because…it’s her gift. It comes naturally to her, so it can be difficult for her to grasp why/how it moves so many others.

Your purpose? Whenever you discover what it truly is, you’ll be able to relate to all of what I’m saying. People will be constantly giving you props around a certain thing and you’ll be wondering why. It’s because you were created to do something in a way that no one else can — or ever will. And others recognize it…almost as if you’re moving in supernatural ways (and you just might be).

5. What Spiritually Transforms You?

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Although I think that all of these questions are super essential, if you don’t get anything else out of this read, GET THIS: your purpose is designed to spiritually transform you…for the better. Now, does this mean that everyone who is in their purpose is spiritually maturing? Nope. You can look at the entertainment industry, for instance, and know that isn’t true. At the same time, though, if you believe in a Higher Power and you are doing something with your life that has you suffering spiritually in the process, that is a clear sign that something is out of serious alignment because your Creator wouldn’t create you to abandon your spirit just to get something accomplished. To abandon your spirit is to be distracted from fully fulfilling your purpose in life.

And while we’re here, for the record, when I say “spiritual,” I don’t mean religious (check out “What's The Difference Between Being 'Religious' And Being 'Spiritual', Anyway?”). I mean your spirit in the sense of your intellect, emotions, passions, and creativity — because all of those things help to make up your spirit. For me, whether I’m working with a married couple, helping to birth a child, or writing an article like this one, there’s not a time when I don’t walk away from the work that I’m doing not feeling like I have been stretched, I’ve had a significant ah-ha moment, or I have been changed in some significant way — that my spirit (my intellect, emotions, passions, and creativity) has not experienced all of that.

Back in the day, I had some jobs that brought home a paycheck, yet never really did any of this — and that’s a big part of how I knew that they had nothing to do with my life’s work: MY PURPOSE. See, one thing that a lot of people miss when it comes to discovering what their purpose is is you will experience life-altering exponential growth when you are living it out. If that’s not happening for you, something is…off.

6. What Can Your Mind, Body and Spirit Get on the Same Page About?

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I have several different email accounts. The one that is tied to this platform, if you were to email me and I replied from my phone, you would (at the time of this article first being published) see a signature that I made up: “If your mind, body and spirit are not all in agreement…pause.”

Back when I wrote my first book, my editors wouldn’t let me say “human trinity” because they were a Christian publisher and thought that it was sacrilegious. Uh-huh (insert eye roll here). Nevermind the fact that trinity isn’t even a word that’s found in the Bible (the Godhead speaks of a holy three-ness; I John 5:8), I know what the word literally means: “a group of three” or “a state of threefold.” And, because I believe that the mind, body, and spirit are what make up each human, that’s why I call those three the “human trinity.”

Okay, so remember how I said earlier that one thing that being at peace means is walking in agreement? Another sign that you are living out your purpose is your mind, body, and spirit will all be in agreement with one another; meaning, not one part of your own trinity will feel like it has to compromise itself for you to fulfill the goals and intentions that are directly tied to your purpose.

Listen, when I’m out here doing my purpose thing, it’s when I feel the most mentally clear, the most physically energized, and the most spiritually balanced. It’s like all three parts of me fuel each other to keep going — and there is no feeling like it. It’s truly divine.

To tell you the truth, this particular point? When it comes to just about every choice you make — if your mind isn’t aligned with your body and spirit, if your body isn’t aligned with your mind and spirit, or if your spirit isn’t aligned with your mind and body, take a moment to do some meditating, praying and/or journaling why. More times than not, what you’re experiencing is a message that is encouraging you to slow down and rethink (or retrace) some of your steps. It’s a cheat code like no other.

7. Can You Break It Down in "Threes"?

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Last question. Sometimes, my life coaching expands to people looking for answers about their purpose or what to do with it. When it does, something that I share is a sign that you know what your purpose is, is that you’re able to explain it in three words or three phrases. Me? I already shared mine: marriage, sex, and the Sabbath. Quick. Clear. Concise. And you know what? When you know that you know something, that is just how your answers should be. So, if you know your purpose, the answer will come quickly to you as well, and you’ll be able to articulate it in a way that is very easy for people to understand. If this is not the case, keep working on it until it is.

____

Aight y’all, I started all of this with three quotes, so I will end it the same way:

  • “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” (Simon Sinek)
  • “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” (John F. Kennedy)
  • “When you walk in purpose, you collide with destiny.” (Ralph Buchanan)

Out of all of the things that you prioritize in life, short of your relationship with God, NOTHING should come before your purpose because, again, it means “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.” So, in the midst of all of the things that are currently on your plate, if deep down, you know that you’re not sure what your purpose is yet, take this as a blaring sign that it’s time to MAKE TIME and to remain committed to discovery until you know what it is.

A wise person once said that wisdom lies in the right questions before the answers. Hopefully, these will help to get you to where you need to be: walking in your purpose. FULFILLING YOUR PURPOSE.

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Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images

 

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