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  • Writer's pictureKerry Ahrend, M.S., PMP


When you visit your doctor he or she probably asks you routine questions about your weight, your diet, as well as your drinking and smoking habits. You rarely hear your doctor ask, “What’s your purpose in life?” However, research has shown that knowing and living your purpose is a significant factor in your overall health and longevity.

Research has found that living your purpose, your why, improves the body’s response to stress. It also fosters healthier behavior and reduces certain risk factors for heart disease.

In my book, PROJECT CAREER QUEST: Navigating the Journey to New Opportunities Waiting, I discuss ways to discover your passion and purpose. Some people discover their purpose early in life while most of us search for it and ultimately find it in our life’s experiences.

Some of the ways to discover your passion include:

- Volunteering. Through helping others we often find something we love deeply and we can see the impact we are making on the lives of others who need us. The opportunities to volunteer are endless: Serve the elderly, feed the homeless, tutor and mentor “at risk” youth, foster animals, care for people with special needs, give blood and save a life.

- Experiment. Try new things. Stop telling yourself “I don’t like this or that” when you have never tried it, when you have never experienced this or that!

- Shadow someone. Observe what other people do that might interest you. Take time to learn about various roles, careers, and potential opportunities.

- Read books. Books open our eyes to new knowledge, new insight, new ideas, new creativity.

- Travel. Experience new cultures, new food, new adventures.

- Take classes (online or in person). Open yourself up to new challenges and new knowledge.

- Examine your feelings. Reflect on childhood dreams that you may have stuffed down as impractical or unrealistic.

- Get out of your comfort zone, take some risks. You may never discover your purpose without a willingness to see and do things differently.

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain who said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why.” Discovering and living your purpose will not only make life more enjoyable and exciting, it will also improve your mental and physical health.

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