A dear friend of mine recently passed away at the young age of 44 years old of heart failure. It was a sudden death, tragic in many ways as he left a wife and child. We were sad about his passing, but because I knew he had lived a full life and a life of purpose working as an oncologist improving the lives of people around him in his unique way, the sadness of his passing was lessened by knowing that he had completed his purpose in life or at least had been quite content in his life. Even though my friend lived only forty-four years, he lived them with passion, zest, and joy, taking advantage of every moment he could muster living life to the fullest. He was one of the most authentic people I had the privilege of knowing and his joy spread to all he knew. I believe part of his happiness lay in the fact that he fulfilled his life purpose, and balanced his time well with his friends, family, traveling, and establishing good work-life balance. He was a good example of what personal happiness looked like. I never got the sense that he was unhappy or unfulfilled, and I was honored and graced by his presence in my life.
Everyone on this planet is unique and special in his or her own unique way. Every person has a unique purpose to fulfill in your lifetime that only you can fulfill because there’s no one else on this planet just like you. Your life purpose isn’t something that needs to affect the world on a large scale, or make you a lot of money. It can be something that brings you a sense of purpose each and every day or provides a solution to one of life’s problems or is making a difference in some way. Your life purpose should definitely be something that inspires you to wake up early in the morning, fuels you every day to work hard, and gives your life added value and meaning. Discovering what your life purpose may be should take time. Not everyone discovers it right away but life is a journey and the discovering of your life purpose is part of it. Give yourself time and allow things to unfold, as it should.
When my friend passed away, I was reminded again about how life is so short. It’s important to spend your time wisely doing something that brings meaning to your life, fills your heart with passion and purpose, and gives you a sense of self. Too many times we buckle under the expectations of others, which happens often in Asian cultures where honor and respect for our elders is of utmost importance. We want to honor our parents. We want to do what they want for us, but too often, we neglect our own voice and avoid listening to the whispers of our own heart, and veer off the path, forgetting to march to the beat of our own drum. It is something I particularly see often in my hypnotherapy and coaching practice and especially in very traditional, ancient cultures like Asian cultures where we constantly have to balance meeting our own needs with duty to family. Wouldn’t it better to honor your parents by being a success in a field of your choice? Wouldn’t it honor your parents more if you were a happy, fulfilled person who did things on your own terms, never gave up on your dreams no matter how long it took for you to manifest them? Your life is precious. You are a person that matters in this world. Your life and your voice and your destiny are what you should listen to, manifest, and make happen in this lifetime. When your parents are gone, it is your life that you hold in your hands, and only you are responsible for your own choices and the direction your life goes in. So my point is, what you do with your life matters very much and how you live your life matters even more. I learned this lesson when I endured a near death experience with a life-threatening illness, bulimia, when I was 20 years old. I was 95 pounds, underweight, unhappy, and not living up to my own expectations. It took almost losing my life to teach me the importance of the gift of life itself, of living life to the fullest, and having the courage to manifest my own dreams into reality. That is the purpose of life, and that is what life is all about!
How do you discover your life purpose? Living a life with purpose and passion is easier to discover and do when you think about answering a problem that people are faced with, it brings a solution to an existing problem on a small or large scale, and it keeps you awake at night and inspired to solve that problem.
Part of discovering your life purpose has to do with service to others. Ask yourself how are you serving others in your life? If you’re not serving others in your profession, how are you serving your community, your family, and your world? Are there organizations you’d like to get involved in that ignite your passions inside? When you become involved with a mission larger than yourself, sometimes, your purpose can be found there. Sometimes, you can discover your purpose in being the very person that helps solve a problem for others. Think about labor worker, Ai-Jen Poo, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2012 known for her work in giving domestic workers basic rights, or Sarah Blakely, founder of Spanx shape wear that revolutionized the way women feel underneath their clothes. Most of us wouldn’t know who these people are, but they are working hard every day to solve a problem in our humanity, big and small, and this purpose serves as a driving force, or purpose in their life that gets them out of bed in the morning and gets them out in the world, creating new solutions to new problems, being movers and shakers in their field, and making the world a better place. For example, I am writing a book now to help people attract the love of their life, because I see a problem in how people are loving themselves, attracting the right partners, and experiencing love in their lives, and I truly believe that peace in the world first begins with peace with yourself, and then peace in the home. The more loving people and happier homes we have, the more peace we have, and the more peace we have, the more peace we put out in the world. My life purpose and mission is to help people overcome obstacles and create change in people’s lives by empowering them to heal and transform their lives in a way that they achieve the highest vision of themselves. Now my purpose has expanded to being a mother, and I remember some wisdom my godmother shared with me. She said that a mother’s life affects three generations, and it’s true. Whatever you learn, you pass down to your children, and your children’s children, and beyond. It makes me even more cognizant of my mission and purpose in life in making sure that I leave a positive legacy for my child and the people I mentor to carry with them for the rest of their lives and pass on the wisdom to others.
Sometimes, you can discover your life purpose in the very aspect of your life that needs the most healing. Perhaps you were raised in a home that was abusive or you were neglected as a child. Now as an adult, you feel compelled to serve children in some way, or work with others to overcome their abuse. That’s truly a wonderful and positive mission as well and can be a full circle moment for you. Perhaps you endured a challenging situation that transformed your life and you now feel compelled to help other in some way, because of the compassion it created in the space of overcoming something difficult. That is what motivated me to help empower others now on their journey. It was suffering through my life threatening illness and having to overcome it on my own that created the deep compassion I have for others and the desire to see people enjoy and live happier, content lives, and fulfill their dreams. Whatever it is for you, living your life with purpose has to do with allowing yourself to feel a space of fullness in your heart, a deep pleasure, a profound sense of self, and oftentimes, being in service to others. You will know when you’ve reached your life purpose when you feel like you were born to do something, or it’s a feeling that you’re finally at home, that the best of you is utilized in some way, and that you are happy. Now don’t mistake pursuing a hobby that you’re good at as being your life purpose or calling. Your life purpose or calling is much deeper and something you’re called to do. I remember in my life that I always loved music, was talented in playing the piano and flute and studied music for nearly 10 years, but I wasn’t meant to be a professional concert pianist or flutist in my lifetime. It just wasn’t my purpose to fulfill. Music was just hobby, even though I was good at it. I was also good at ice-skating, another passion of mine that I pursued for over 11 years, and did quite well in my skating career. But both passions and hobbies or skills were not meant to be expressed as careers for me or my life purpose. So now you have another hint. Your life purpose is more than just being good at something; it means being great at something, something that you know will keep expanding over time, and keep you growing and interested, and fulfilling some type of personal life mission and purpose in service to others.
Remember, you are an act of creation. Life is about creating yourself, and when you have that attitude, all of life is an adventure, and you will have the patience and enthusiasm to let your life purpose unfold, as it should. It’s never too late to discover your life purpose! Think about Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and took the show by storm, singing “I Dreamed a Dream”. Her life purpose was fulfilled at age 48 when she took a leap of faith to share her God-given gift with the world, and the rest is history. Sometimes dreams and your life purpose take time to discover and develop. But give yourself time! Try to think big, dream bigger, and take the time to do the self-reflective, “getting to know you” work required to take a step towards your life purpose and after you figure out what it could be, then devise a plan to make it happen. It’s that important. Your life is a journey, not a destination. Every moment counts, and every experience aren’t wasted. Don’t keep looking back at what has been, but keep looking forward to what is possible. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Go for it, my fellow warriors! Follow your heart, dare to be whom you were born to be, and I know all your dreams will become a reality!
BIO: Panney Wei is an award-winning writer, TV-Radio host, hypnotherapist, and motivational speaker on the power of the mind and achieving one’s potential, inspiring people to break negative patterns and achieve their dreams in love and life. She is the recipient of the “Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business” award from the Asian American Business Development Center, ASCEND’s Top 40 Global Emerging Leaders award, an Honoree for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Women Making a Difference Awards and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Women in Business awards, among others. Panney is the CEO of See the Way Consulting, which gives people the tools, wisdom, and courage to overcome life’s obstacles, and essentially see the way to achieving their life’s goals and dreams both personally and professionally. As a mentor, coach, and guide for her clients and tuning into their concerns and identifying the core issues and reasons for their problems, she is able to give them the solutions, insight, acknowledgement, and feedback they desire, and the energy, inspiration, and the courage to manifest their dreams and to not only endure, but overcome their challenges. Panney is the host of the podcast, “See the Way with Panney Wei”, on ITunes for your weekly dose of inspiration and interviews with some of the brightest minds and bestselling authors and experts in our world. Granddaughter to Taiwan Senator Albert Liu and Great Grand-niece to one of China’s greatest statesmen, General Tso Tsung-Tang, famous for his dish “General Tso’s chicken”, Panney continues their legacy of service, serving as a Senior Advisor for the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), The National Asian Artist Project, and NAAAP Orange County, Toronto, LA, and San Diego, and Women in NAAAP (WIN!), a national women’s leadership she founded and launched in as the Founding National Director in 2008 to empower and develop female leaders featured in Forbes Women. Panney is working on her first book on attracting the love of your life and shares her advice on life, career, love, and motherhood through her blog A Panney For Your Thoughts. She is married to Endgame Executive Vice President and Producer Christopher Chen (who recently produced Looper, Linsanity, and Sneakerheadz) and has a daughter, Talia. www.panneywei.com