Hindsight is 2020: Finding Your Purpose in the New Year
Many of us are probably too scared or hesitant to tell ourselves that 2021 will be our year. The dumpster fire of 2020 really proved that anything is possible in this world and anything can ultimately muck up our plans. We’re here to tell you that it’s okay to be skeptical and nervous for the new year. We’re all in this together. And while we are unique in our own ways, one of the many things that we share is the desire to find our purpose in life, a way to connect to our authentic self and bring joy to ourselves and others. In this blog, we’ll dive into ways that you can use to find and manifest your purpose in 2021 and beyond.
We’ve had time to rest and consider what matters to us during this pandemic. We have considered what brings meaning to our lives, especially during a period when we are more isolated than ever. If you have not found your purpose for the new year, you might start by asking yourself:
What gave you joy during this pandemic? For some, joy may have come from being more in-and-connected to nature, creating a work of art or making sure that life at home was comfortable for their loved ones. Those joys translate into purpose because there is meaning behind those activities. It brings us joy because it is meaningful to us. To exist more in-and-connected to nature is giving ourselves the space to live more calmly and breathe new air; the intent to create works of art is our inner desire to create beauty and be fulfilled; to make our home life comfortable is our life purpose to provide a safe space filled with love and nourishment.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor Alison Issen attributes our need for purpose to our desire to become our most authentic self.
“Feeling that one has meaning and purpose may not be quite as essential as food, water and physical safety. But it ranks right up there with the need to belong, to be loved and loving and to feel self-worth,” she says. “At adolescence and beyond, this is a basic task of becoming a mature and authentic person.”
To find purpose, Issen recommends writing your own epitaph, a short phrase of remembrance traditionally carved on a headstone. This epitaph can act as your personal mission statement.
Issen says these statements can range from being remembered “for making people laugh, treating the Earth with tender care or fighting for justice.”
It’s important to allow yourself space and grace while brainstorming and pondering about your manifestations. Be gentle with yourself in this new year.
Setting specific goals and timelines is essential to overcoming barriers; having clear goals and direction allows us to focus on what matters most and helps keep us accountable. This goal setting leads to better decision-making, increased motivation and higher productivity. Once you reach your goal, there’s a sense of purpose and personal satisfaction. However, hold your goals loosely enough to find a creative way to stay committed, if you meet barriers. Flexibility is a key component of reaching goals.
In fact, an example of this flexibility could be Issen’s recent experience:
“At the beginning of 2020, as I was getting ready to retire from full-time work, my goal was to become much more active and involved doing in-person voter registration than I had been able to in the past,” Issen says. “COVID-19 pretty much shutdown in person registration drives, but instead, I participated in postcard-writing and no-contact literature delivery to encourage this action. Not as satisfying, it’s true, but I did feel my work was meaningful, and finding a creative way to overcome the barriers lowered my frustration and sense of helplessness.”
To manifest purpose, create a written or visual timeline of action steps:
- Create a vision board of images or meaningful words or phrases.
- Keep a journal of thoughts and lists.
- Place notes and ideas around your home to inspire you.
- Join a group, class or discussion (virtually, of course). Find a friend or community of like-minded individuals to combine energies with.
- Take moments to breathe and brainstorm
To approach a new beginning with purpose is to dive deep on a search for that which stirs you, warms your body up like hot soup on a cold day. And when you find it, let that become your compass. It is a needle automatically pulling you in the direction you did not know was yours for the taking. Once your purpose is defined, you can move forward on your own path. All great things do not come without risk. While committing to a purpose can sometimes be daunting and challenging, there’s grace in trusting that where you are today matters for who you will be tomorrow.
On-Demand Videos on the Wellbeing Network
Alison C. Issen is a licensed mental health counselor, a registered nurse and a frequent program presenter for the Center for Health & Wellbeing. She has taught psychology at the college level and worked in the field of health and wellness for more than 35 years, including more than 14 years of hospice and oncology work. Issen holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Central Florida. Click here to view CHWB On-Demand videos featuring Issen.