Whenever I hear stories of people who’ve lost their way in life I wonder if it’s because they don’t know their purpose – for me cycling gives my life meaning. But I’m not so one-eyed that I believe cycling is the purpose for everyone.
I didn’t actually set out to find meaning or purpose when I took up road cycling. In fact I wasn’t consciously looking for my higher purpose. I was a relatively happy person who was fairly content in most of my aspects of my life. It wasn’t until I found cycling that I realised that something had been missing. It also didn’t happen like a lightning bolt, it took time for me to distil it. In fact it took several years. The turning point for me was when I started this blog nearly eight years ago and decided my life’s mission is to encourage more women to take up cycling.
I did a bit or research on the subject of finding purpose in your life. Why do you even need purpose? Apparently a 2010 study found that individuals with high levels of eudemonic wellbeing—which involves having a sense of purpose along with a sense of control and feeling like what you do is worthwhile—tend to live longer.
How do you find purpose? The process requires plenty of self-reflection, listening to others and finding where your passions lie. These seven strategies (that I’ve borrowed from a great article I found ) can help you reveal or find your purpose so you can begin living a more meaningful life.
1. Donate time, money, or talent
If there’s just one habit you can create to help you find your purpose, it would be helping others. Research from Florida State University found having a strong social network was linked to a happier life. But being the ‘giver’ in a relationship connected people with having a purposeful life.
For me this involves donating my time and expertise to my cycling club as a women’s coordinator, being part of the Cycling NSW Women’s Commission and writing this blog.
2. Listen to feedback
It can be hard to recognise the things you feel passionate about sometimes. After all, you probably like to do many different things and the things you love to do may have become so ingrained in your life that you don’t realise how important those things are.
Fortunately, other people might be able to give you some insight. There’s a good chance you’re already displaying your passion and purpose to those around you without even realising it.
People often tell me that my whole face lights up when I talk about women’s cycling. I go from being fairly passive to talking with more expression and using my hands.
3. Surround yourself with positive people
As the saying goes, you are the company that you keep. What do you have in common with the people who you choose to be around?
I spend plenty of my leisure time both on and off my bike with people who love cycling just as much as me. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the company of others who don’t share my passion, but all my close friendships formed in the past ten years have been with fellow riders.
4. Start conversations with new people
It’s easy to browse social media while you’re alone on the subway or sitting at a bar waiting for a friend. Resist that urge. Instead, take the time to talk to the people around you.
I’m no different to many other people. I hate working into a business networking event where I haven’t yet met anyone, but as soon as I talk them about my passion I relax. It’s also so much easier to strike up a conversation with the person riding next to you in a bunch because you already have something obvious in common.
5. Explore your interests
Is there a topic that you are regularly talking about in a Facebook status update or in a Tweet? Are you regularly sharing articles about climate change or refugees?
For me, my Facebook and Instagram news feeds are all about cycling. I have dozens of friends who are also mad about cycling so I’m constantly seeing stuff they share as well.
6. Consider injustices that bother you
Many people have their pet causes or passion projects that surround an injustice in the world. Is there anything to you that makes you so deeply unhappy to think about that it bothers you to the core?
Unsurprisingly one of the injustices that bugs me the most is the way so many drivers feel that the road is for their exclusive use. I like to play me part in educating others about driving on the road to help cyclist stay safe, and to help drivers understand.
7. Discover what you love to do
On the other end of the spectrum, simply thinking about what you truly love to do can help you find your purpose as well.
I can honestly say I love riding a bike. Riding a road bike is so pleasurable. The feeling of the wind rushing past your face, the freedom, being outdoors and so much more makes me happy. It’s also great that it has so many benefits.