I’ve been working on Christmas gift guides for a little bit, but I want to stop and talk about another kind of gift guide: how to discover your gifts and how to find your purpose. It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with personal growth and development books. I’ve felt like how to find your passion and purpose in life has been the theme that’s replayed over and over in my mind for years.
As a kid, I was sure of what I’d be (writer/psychologist/head of a huge, successful company), but as time went on, I got less and less sure of why I was here. I started to doubt myself and wonder if something more practical than my dream life would be better. After all, I enjoyed sales. Maybe that was what I was here for. Eventually, I course-corrected (it’s an ongoing process).
Recently, I read two books that are designed to help you find your purpose in life. I didn’t know how well one would flow into the other when I started reading them, but they did and it was a wonderful experience. I want to share them with you.
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Find Your Purpose: From Seeking to Service
There are two books I’ve read about how to find your purpose that work so well together. One’s a more practical guide that works for anyone. The other is based on spiritual gifts talked about in the Bible.
The Gifted Journey
First up, a book I was sent for review: The Gifted Journey by Stephanie Moore.
This is a five-step process that guides you through looking back at your past, involving the right people in your journey, visualizing your ideal future, doing the things you need to do to achieve the goals you’ve set, and continuing to grow. It takes you from a point of self and seeking, to one of serving others and feeling a sense of joy and fulfillment in what you do.
At the beginning of the book, Moore says to look at life like a kaleidoscope. When you look through it, all the different shapes and colors make a pattern. When you look at your life (from past to present), all the bits and pieces form a pattern. These are clues regarding your purpose in life.
How to Find Your Purpose with Others’ Help
I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress in this area over the years, but this book did remind me of some areas that need work in my life, ways that I could steel myself against self-doubt and the feeling of aimless drifting, wondering if I’m living my purpose.
My one criticism of the book is that some sections don’t seem to take solopreneurs (or those who want to be) and people who work alone 99 percent of the time into consideration. But this is not 100% a criticism because it made me think, nor is it true for the whole book.
It’s challenging to get feedback from others about your strengths on the job–or remember examples of certain types of situations that involve other people–when you work from home and have little to no opportunity to engage in teamwork. The book struck a nerve for me on that note because I don’t get a lot of feedback on my strengths, weaknesses, etc, but I like working alone. However, this observation reminded me that I do miss working with others sometimes and I should seek out coworking spaces and/or just go work in places that aren’t my house more often.
If I’m lucky, this could lead to new connections, networking, and the building of relationships even though we aren’t working on the same things. Those connections will help with the other sections of this book, like finding your own personal board of directors that will help you succeed.
Your Bad, Good, and Best Days
Some of my favorite parts of the book involved thinking over a bad day, a good day, and your best day. From there, the Dream section was my favorite. I’ve done this type of exercise before and have a complete “ideal day” in my mind. I know who’s there, where I am, what I’m doing, what I see from my desk, and more.
Some people may want to dismiss this section if they’re not used to allowing themselves to dream after years as an adult (been there!). I think this is the most valuable section of all because it gives you a bright spot to focus on while you work on aligning everything else in your life.
Exercises like the ones in this book have shown me something interesting: I kind of want to return to where I started, the place I couldn’t wait to get away from when I was younger. My goals and heart haven’t changed as much as I thought they may have over the years. Interestingly enough, there’s a great quote on page 71 by C.S. Lewis:
“In my beginning is my end.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
By the way, Moore did a wonderful job of finding quotes to include at the beginning of each chapter. I loved them all.
Action Steps and Staying on Stack
Toward the end of the book, after you’ve found clues from your past and learned what to ask others (and when to ask) when you need objective feedback, after exploring the things that light you up and put you “in flow” so you don’t even feel time passing, after visualizing and setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and developing plans to accomplish them, you’ll get a few more things:
- Encouragement to do daily reflections to stay on track with your actions and gathering information, as well as practice gratitude
- A list of discovery strategies like personality tests and strength finders (note: finding out I’m an INFJ via the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was life-changing for me)
- Strategies for long-term success that can be as simple as reading an article on a topic you’re interested in or taking an online course
- Course-correction strategies to keep you going and on track
- How to go from focusing on the self to focusing on serving others so you feel even more fulfilled
Going through this book could provide clarity and a roadmap for the next several years of your life. It could help you feel like you’re more on course, headed in the right direction, and using your strengths, knowledge, and skills to the best of your ability in a way that feels good.
Though this book can be used by anyone, the last bit touched on spiritual gifts in the Bible. These gifts work with our talents and natural gifts (different from spiritual gifts). This brings me to my next (this time, quick) review:
Discover Your Spiritual Gifts
There are 28 spiritual gifts listed in the Bible, and each person who has accepted Christ gets one or a combination of two or more. This book walks you through what those gifts are, what they mean (and don’t mean), how the gifts may be used, and the difference between natural talents and biblical gifts.
And, of course, it shows you how to determine which gift (or gifts) you have–and which ones you don’t. You get a step closer to learning how to find your purpose with the help of a 135-question questionnaire (chapter 7) and a study guide in the back that will allow you to dive deeper into the text. For each spiritual gift, you’ll see a list of Bible verses to read that can help lead you in the right direction so that you can bless others and do what you were put here to do.
It kind of sounds silly to say, “I took a questionnaire to find my spiritual gifts!” but really, it was eye-opening. It confirmed a lot of things for me and gave me the courage to continue on my path. The background information and explanation in the first six chapters was great and I’m glad I read it, but I didn’t necessarily need to read it all to get a lot out of the results. So if you get it and want to take the test first, go for it, then look up what your answers mean in the glossary. Then read the rest of the book. Or you can read it all in order, it’s up to you. But do read it all; don’t just take the test and put the book on the shelf. There’s a lot of beautiful information here that you won’t want to miss.