During ‘lockdown’ I’ve rediscovered my love of pencil drawing. When I was 17 I applied to art school and although I got in I decided not to go. During the interview process I was told that my drawing lacked passion, that I drew what I saw not what I felt, that I would have to unlearn everything I thought I knew and start again and that kind of put me off going! Often over the years I wondered whether I’d made the right decision or how differently my life might have been had I followed that career path.

But through my coaching work, here’s what I’ve now come to realise…. they were right! I loved drawing it brought me peace throughout my childhood and gave me a creative outlet, it was even a form of meditation but it was never my passion or my life purpose. I would never have got up at 5 am to go to an art exhibition but I would (and have) to go to a wellbeing conference. That’s how we really recognise our passion and our purpose in life, we don’t have to motivate ourselves to do it, in fact we couldn’t stop ourselves following that path even if we tried. Had I really loved art, I would have gone to art school, nothing would have stopped me and I would have done whatever it took to make it work, but I didn’t because I was never passionate enough about it. It’s still a lovely hobby to have and I am grateful to have rediscovered it and the peace it brings to my life.

If my life purpose coaching work has taught me one thing, it’s that although we may have many talents they don’t always relate to our purpose and in fact sometimes turning a hobby into a business can take the joy out of it.

So how do we recognise our purpose? We bring mindful awareness to our emotional response. Art brings me peace and joy, but only when I’m in the mood to do it. With my mindfulness, meditation and coaching work I am always intrinsically motivated to do it, because it fits in with my broader range of skills and values, not just one particular talent. Our talents are something we are naturally good at but our skills are something we have cultivated over time, e.g. speaking skills, listening skills, coaching skills, organisational skills etc. We can also recognise our purpose as it resonates with our values and shows us how we can make a difference in the world which is a key aspect of intrinsic motivation.

If you want a simple exercise to help you find your life purpose try asking yourself some key questions such as:

What comes easily to me that may be hard for others?
What are the aspects of my life that bring me joy and what activities does that include?
What do I keep being drawn to?
What do others tell me I am good at?
What are the values, dreams, gifts and passions I’m committed to fulfilling in my life?
By bringing mindful awareness to aspects of our lives that we may otherwise overlook, we may see that the answer to our life purpose was there all along. |If you start to notice a shift in your energy when you focus on one specific activity, that is an indication that you are intrinsically motivated by that and it could well be in alignment with your purpose.

Having purpose is hugely important as it impacts on our emotional and physical wellbeing, so it’s important that our purpose isn’t just related to our work, but our lives in general, this is why aligning with our values is so important. If you find that your current job isn’t in alignment with your values, but you don’t want to leave, you can try to look at ways that you can make it a better fit by focusing on your values every morning first thing and trying to notice how you can bring those into your work life. This simple exercise can help improve wellbeing and productivity as you feel more motivated in your work.

By taking a more proactive approach towards living in alignment with our purpose we can improve our wellbeing in our work and personal lives which has a direct impact on our physical and mental health. So why not give it a go and take some time out to align with your purpose today!


  • Shirley Blanch

    Mindfulness coach, speaker, writer and podcaster

    Get Mindful

    Shirley Blanch is a UK based mindfulness coach, writer, speaker and co-host of the 'Get Mindful' podcast at the Mindfulness Café. Shirley works in schools, workplaces and in private practice delivering mindfulness, meditation and emotional resilience to children and adults through one to one coaching, group sessions and workshops.