You reach a moment in your life where you start searching for a purpose. A purpose that is greater than yourself. A purpose where your life is touching to others in a meaningful way to the extent that they pass on the the goodwill that they had received from you. In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, the advice of the second habit is to always "start with the end in mind." Once you know where you want to end, then you can start, and learn how to get there.
Beginning with the end in mind is to begin today with the image of the end of your life as a frame of reference. What remains as you draw the last energy out of your cells and the last breath from your lungs? The ideas you leave behind and the values you expressed day-to-day are how you will be remembered, more so than by the material things you leave to your loved ones. These values and virtues that remain are your purpose. By keeping your purpose clearly in mind you can make certain you are reaching this goal each day of your life in a meaningful way. Start with simple virtues like courtesy, kindness, humility and a love for all. Add your unique gift or talent that is shared with others, and you will create a lasting legacy of your life.
It's never too late to practice virtue or to discover your gifts. And when you blend your unique talent with service to others, be prepared to experience a real joy!
Finding your purpose is not enough. You will be a happier person when you are engaged and living your purpose, making every effort to live your virtues and values on a daily basis. Ask others to support you on your new path as you take one bold step after another. With this chosen path, I believe you will find less need to ask the question "what am I here for?" or "what's the meaning of life?"
If you are asking those questions, remember what Abraham Maslow said: "Musicians must make music, artists must paint, writers must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves." This need is what Maslow calls self-actualization. What inspires you? Make it a purpose. Regardless of what kind of day you are having, good or bad, stay on purpose with the activity you enjoy most and gives you the greatest satisfaction or meaning.
Don't ask yourself what the world needs. That's a huge question. Ask yourself what makes you come ALIVE and do that with passion. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive and are willing to act. If you don't have passion for one thing in life that's okay. But, LIVE with passion for this life, life itself. And the way to do that is to act on virtues like love, generosity, gratitude, and compassion.
Here are examples of people who went from "ordinary to extraordinary" by living their purpose based on values and virtues; and in this way they left a great legacy.
Mahatma Gandhi - Humane leadership
George Washington - Honesty
Helen Keller - Love of learning
Florence Nightingale - Kindness
Mother Teresa - Capacity to love
Dali Lama - Compassion
These ideas are not new. As you think about living your purpose, think about this confirmation from the Upanishads, the sacred Hindu text written 600-300 B.C.
As Your Desire is, so is Your Will
As Your Will is, so is Your Deed
As Your Deed is, so is your Destiny
As Your Destiny is, so is Your Legacy