We all want purpose in life, whether we explicitly acknowledge it or not. Finding meaning and having something that drives you to take action and better yourself is one of the best ways to stay mentally healthy and live a better, more accomplished life.

But what if you don’t know what your purpose is? Or what if you’re starting to question your purpose? How can you find the right fit?

The Purpose of Purpose

Having a readily identifiable purpose is important for several reasons:

· Energy and motivation. Having purpose in life gives you energy and motivation. You have a reason to wake up in the morning and a reason to fight through the biggest challenges of life.

· Confidence and identity. Purpose gives you a sense of identity and renewed confidence. If you know why you’re here and you regularly contribute value, you’ll feel much more in control of your life.

· Life satisfaction. Ultimately, people who have a strong sense of purpose tend to be more satisfied with their lives. And of course, by extension, they tend to be happier.

How to Tell If You’re Missing a Purpose

How can you even tell if you’re missing a purpose?

For starters, if you can’t immediately identify what your purpose in life is, it may be something that’s absent in your life. Many people without purpose feel an ambiguous sense of emptiness that they can’t quite pinpoint; they may be able to freely acknowledge that something is missing, but they can’t tell exactly what. You may also feel that it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning or sum up the motivation necessary to practice even basic responsibilities.

How to Find Your True Purpose

If you’re missing purpose, and you want to find it, consider using these strategies:

· Talk to a therapist. Search for an online therapist and schedule an initial session. Your therapist can help you understand what you’re thinking and feeling, and give you the resources and strategies necessary to manage them. They can also help you brainstorm about your purpose and guide you to better overall results. If you feel good about your therapist, you can schedule regular sessions in the future, and if you feel they’re not a good fit, you can try someone else.

· Consider your core values. Think carefully about your core values. What’s most important to you in life? Is it family and connecting to other people? Is it making a positive difference in your community? Do you have a strong sense of loyalty, ambition, or altruism? There are no right or wrong answers here; what’s important is that you understand what’s important to you and what drives you.

· Think about moments of satisfaction from your past. Think about the most satisfied you’ve ever been in life. What do these moments of satisfaction have in common? What did you do to give yourself this feeling? How might you replicate that in the future?

· Contemplate your greatest accomplishments. Think about your greatest accomplishments. This is an interesting exercise, because it should immediately reveal something about yourself; what you define as an accomplishment is unique to you, and should help you understand how you prioritize different types of actions and successes. One person might say their greatest accomplishment is winning a major award, while another might say their greatest accomplishment is helping a friend through a major crisis.

· Identify sources of anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction. Conversely, you should consider your biggest sources of anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction. These sources should, in some ways, represent your “anti-purpose.” What’s the opposite? What would prevent or eliminate these feelings?

· Explore your biggest passions. At this point, you should have a much better idea of what your passions are – and what makes you happy. Now, take the time to explore those passions. That could mean taking up a new hobby, researching a new career path, or connecting with certain types of people (or all three).

· Branch out to discover new territory. Throughout this journey, you’ll discover some promising leads and new options that pique your interest. Follow these threads and continue branching out to discover new territory.

· Find and connect with a community. When you feel a good fit, join a community. Connecting with and talking to other people in that community can help you sort out your feelings, learn more about this hobby/cause/career, and feel like you belong somewhere.

· Journal and document your mental changes. Keep a record of your thoughts and feelings throughout all your efforts. You’re looking for something that brings you more positivity, motivation, confidence, and satisfaction.

· Practice gratitude and acceptance. Take the time to practice gratitude and acceptance during this journey. Finding your purpose can be challenging, stressful, and confusing, and you’ll be better able to navigate this territory if you have a healthier mindset. As an added bonus, practicing gratitude regularly can make you happier.

· Keep experimenting. Even if you think you’ve found your purpose, it’s a good idea to keep experimenting. You never know what you might discover.

There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find your purpose right away, but if you follow these strategies, you’ll be in a much better position to discover what you’ve been missing. Once you identify and incorporate your purpose in life, you can expect your happiness and life satisfaction to improve steadily.