You've probably heard about the supposed way to "figure out your purpose" in less than a minute. Basically, for those not in the know, it's a process in which you just keep writing what you think it could be until you start crying. Or something. I really in no way mean to discredit this method. I'm sure it's worked beautifully for many people. I only mean to speak for anyone who may not be so emotionally attuned — who are more comfortable seeing their "purpose" as something more practical.
At the end of the day, your idea of what you're "meant to do" in life is really important, if only for the fact that it is a lens through which you'll perceive everything else. The key here is to realize that the shape of that lens is ultimately up to you. It's not something anybody else can impose on you, or something you should look to anybody else to understand. The reality is that until this comes from a true and genuine and deep place of understanding, you're not going to believe it, and you're not going to live it out. So here, to get you started, are nine ways to figure out what you're "meant" to do (for when sitting and just crying doesn't work).
Make A List Of What Your Natural Abilities Are
You can be as abstract as you are literal and practical. Or you're good at helping or healing or painting or writing or being a student. Let yourself fully acknowledge all the things you're good at, even if they don't immediately seem transmutable into a "career."
Make A List Of What Your Natural Interests Are
Do you like math? Art? Human beings? Social interactions? Psychology? Self-help? What do you read? What articles do you regularly click on? Whom do you follow on Twitter? All of these things comprise who you are; they're not random details, they're symbolic and important. And pieced together, they create patterns that point to larger truths.
See Where The First Two Overlap
You need to have interest, ability, dedication, and drive. If any of those aspects aren't present, you probably aren't going to actually be able to execute your dream life the way you want to. There's "luck" (I don't personally believe in that, but some do), there's chance, there's possibility, but when those are too shaky for you to rest your future on, rely on what you can control: what you want to do, how well you can do it, and how you're going to create a consumable product/profession out of it.
Imagine Yourself At Age 95, Nearing The End Of Life. What Will You Be Proud For Leaving Behind?
All that we'll leave behind, ultimately, is what is in our hearts. If this is true, what will be left of you at the end of the day? What makes you proud to be alive? What makes you proud to be who you are?
What Do You Want To Be Remembered For After You Do Go?
Do you want people remembering you for how many hours you spent in an office, or how many hours you spent with family and friends? Do you want to be remembered for what a good [profession] you were? Do you want to be remembered for how kind you are? Do you want to be remembered for both? Take it all into consideration.
What Makes You Feel At Peace?
Not what makes you feel joyful, or even "happy." Those emotions are fleeting, and are not grounded sensations upon which you can truly build a sustainable life. Focus on what makes you feel at peace with yourself. That's where you should be headed.
What Did You Dream Of Doing As A Child?
It's often not the profession itself that you want to emulate as an adult, but what it symbolizes. Teachers often want to mentor/guide, vets want to care for beings that don't have voices, astronauts want to explore and achieve something beyond day-to-day life. These are just a few examples, but it's really important to note that what we desired as children are projections of who we really are (even if those *exact* projections aren't what we really want).
Think About What You Want To Do Every Single Day — Not What Title You Want To Have, Or What Accolades You Want To Achieve
What do you want your everyday life to consist of? Think about it on an hour-to-hour basis. If you only focus on what you want the image to be, you're only considering how you want other people to consume your life — not how you want to actually live it.
In A Dream World, What Does Your Fully-Actualized, Best Self Look Like?
The trick and the truth is that the person you imagine is who you truly are. The work you have to do is getting everything else out of the way that convinces you that you are any less. Your best self is the person you're meant to be, and whatever that person is and does, is what you're meant to do.