4 Actionable Steps to Find Your Life Purpose (Your Superpower)
“Why am I here?”
My first thought on July 2, 2006.
I had woken up next to Jim, my beautiful husband, in our beautiful house, with our two beautiful children in our beautiful neighborhood.
I had a great life, so waking up to the existential thoughts, of “what is my life purpose?” and “what the hell am I doing here?” wasn’t particularly comforting.
I tried to brush it off, but- to my frustration- my mind continued to repeat the questions, over and over, getting louder and louder.
I had a great life, so why couldn’t I just be happy with it?
I was well educated and happy. I considered myself smart, funny and successful. But there I was, with that question staring me down. I didn’t know what to say or think.
Up until that point I had just been living.
It hadn’t occurred to me that maybe I was supposed to be doing something more, something grander with my life, but now here it was, confronting me: one of life’s biggest questions.
And so I wondered:
What was my life purpose? Why was I here? How do I find meaning in life?
And, had I already missed out on my chance to do the work I was supposed to be doing?
So, to find the answer to these questions, to find my life purpose, I started searching.
I read books.
I attended workshops.
I got coaching from some of the best life coaches in the world.
I searched high and low to determine why I was here, and I found the answer.
The answer to, “why am I here?” and “what is my life purpose?” for you, me, anybody, is their superpower.
And it’s never too late to find your superpower and live your biggest and most purposeful life.
Your superpower is the one thing you are designed to do like nobody else on this planet. It also ties into what you are most passionate about.
Using your superpower is why you are here. Using your superpower is your life purpose.
This answer was so profound that I wanted everyone to know how to find their superpower and follow their life purpose.
So I created a system to make it easier for people to find their superpower and their life purpose. Below, you will find the the four most important steps to do just that.
What is purpose? And what is a superpower? And how do they relate?
Purpose is defined by Dictionary.com as, “the reason for which something exists.”
One of the best life purpose quotes comes from Richard J. Leider’s The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better:
Our purpose is an expression of the deepest dimension within us – of our central core or essence, when we have a profound sense of who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going. Purpose, when it is clear, is the aim around which we structure our lives, a source of direction and energy, and the way the meaning of our lives is worked out in daily experience. You have a purpose no matter what age you are, how healthy you are, or what your economic or social situation is. (pp. ix-x).
Your life purpose is not something set out for you by others. It is not something that you find outside of you. Instead it’s about uncovering the gifts that are hiding within you.
Your life purpose is not a mandate that you must live in a certain way or do a certain thing.
Your life purpose is the mission you choose to go on that aligns with the deepest part of yourself.
You find your life purpose by turning inward. Discovering your purpose is about understanding who you are at the core.
To discover who you are at your core, you have to understand three things:
what you care about most (your top 5 values)
what you are best at (your top 5 strengths)
what you bring to others in your interactions with them (I call this social currency)
Your superpower is then at the intersection of these three things. It is at the heart of who you are and what you bring to the world and the purest form of your life purpose.
Your superpower is the thing that is irrevocably you. It is the one thing that you do like no one else.
Your superpower is also what you get the most joy out of doing, because it uses all of who you are and challenges you to use the skills you are best at.
You might be wondering how to find your purpose and passion in life, but, once you find your superpower, then the path to living your purpose and passion unfolds in front of you.
Knowing your purpose and your superpower has a powerful impact. People who know and live their purpose lead better, healthier lives. According to the University of Minnesota:
People who have a high sense of purpose in life have a lower risk of heart disease
People who have a strong connection to their sense of purpose tended to live longer than those who didn’t.
A high sense of life purpose protects against Alzheimer’s disease
And with that being said…
Your life purpose is calling. It’s time to find your superpower!
Finding your superpower involves four steps: finding your top values, knowing your strengths, understanding your social currencies, and then discovering your superpower
I created a worksheet called the Superpower model to help you keep track of these elements. You can get the Superpower Model worksheet (and all of my other worksheets) by entering your email below!
1. Find your core values
The first step on your superpower journey is knowing your most important values. Your values represent what you care most deeply about.
When you know your most important values, you know the bedrock of who you are.
Your life purpose, your highest calling, your superpower - for them to be truly and authentically yours - must line up with what is at the core of you.
Because knowing your top 5 core values is the first and most important step for discovering your purpose and your superpower, I created a definitive guide on finding your values. You can check that out here.
You can also get a digital version of the Tomi Llama Values Cards by entering your email above or at the bottom of this page! If you want your own deck of values cards, you can order those in The Llama Store.
Once you know your core values, you can add them to your superpower model and move to step two:
2. Find your strengths
If you have ever been interviewed for a job, you might have been asked this timeless question: “What are your strengths?”
This question can be hard to answer, but it is important.
Your top strengths are the things that you are best at. These are the gifts you bring to the party!
These strengths, like your core values, play an important role in finding your superpower and finding your purpose, and to live your best life you really have to own them.
Finding your top 5 strengths might be the easiest part of the Superpower Model because someone else is going to tell you what they are.
Either one is good, and they are both available online. The StrengthsFinder test will send you a report, but the High5 test will not (unless you pay for the report), so make sure to take a screenshot of your strengths and the definitions so you have them for your own notes and for the worksheet.
Discovering your top 5 strengths can offer you important insights into your behavior.
Finding my strengths from these assessments gave me important insight into my own behavior.
Someone once advised me to try reading a book for fun. I wasn’t sure I knew how to do that; I was driven to learn more, to know more, to understand more. Some days I just didn’t understand the burning desire that fueled my educational pursuits.
It took completing the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment and discovering that my number 1 strength is learner to make me realize that learning is a natural part of who I am and what I do.
It also put into perspective the fact that I am always reading for fun, even when my consuming multiple books at a time might look like work to others.
My son Warren loves to get on the telephone with me to talk ideas and think about new ways to proceed on projects. When he took the High5 Test, it revealed he is a brainstormer. Of course he is!
For you, you might see similar things that happen in your daily life that make even greater sense when you finally connect them to your strengths.
Isn’t that beautiful! I love the understanding and deeper sense self that comes from knowing these parts of you.
Your strengths might be tied to what you love to do, or how you think things should be done. They might drive what you are passionate about. However they show up though, your strengths play a critical role in figuring out your superpower.
Once you have the 5 strengths, place them in the appropriate section on your superpower model, just below your top 5 values.
3. Understand Your Social Currencies
The next step in discovering your superpower and discovering your purpose lies in understanding your social currencies.
Your social currencies are what you bring to the table in your interactions with the world; they are your personal currency and what you trade upon out in the world - the gifts others receive from interacting with you.
For example, one of my social currencies is to bring wit, wisdom, and humor to each interaction.
This means whenever you interact with me, I am going to try to make you laugh and maybe sprinkle some profound knowledge in there along the way!
Finding and understanding your social currencies typically starts at the intersection of your values and strengths, so there are clues to be had in the descriptions of both.
Examine how your strengths and values interact to provide energy to others.
Another one of my social currencies is making complex things seem simpler.
I am good at taking abstract concepts and boiling them down to their essence. This stems from my values of wisdom and effectiveness, and my strength of being a learner.
From my strength of being a learner, I am good at taking in lots of knowledge, and from my values of wisdom and effectiveness, I value knowledge in its most effective forms. These values and this strength combine to form a social currency.
Another example comes from my son. One of his social currencies is “bringing a sense of humor to the room.” This is borne out of two of his core values - humor and openness - and his strength of being a coach.
He likes things to be open and for people to have fun so they can relax and tap into their deeper potential. The way he does that is through humor.
Your social currencies don’t have to be complicated. One good way to find your social currencies is to read the descriptions of your values and the descriptions of your strengths.
As you read them, you might find yourself nodding your head vigorously, saying, “I so do that!”
If that happens, you may have found a social currency!
You can also think about why people seek you out. Do you find yourself being the “go to” person for something specific. If so, you may have found another social currency!
Just like with your values, finding your social currencies can take some digging, but it offers a profound understanding of what you bring to the world, which is key to finding your superpower!
Your superpower is what you bring to the world that no one else can. Your social currencies are what you offer the world based on your strengths and values. Now you just have to boil them down even more to get your superpower!
4. Discover Your Superpower and Life Purpose
Your Superpower is where you bring it all together. Values, strengths, and social currencies all intersect to create your life purpose and the one thing you do like nobody else: your Superpower.
Your superpower lies at the heart of everything on our Superpower Model.
My Superpower is "Connecting unseen or hidden patterns to facilitate personal transformation." It is short and simple, and is the sweet spot right in the middle of all that I am and what I love to do.
My superpower draws heavily on the other facets of the model. As I mentioned, one of my social currencies is simplifying the complex (which comes from my values and strengths). I also appreciate effectiveness. When I assist others with transformation, I am helping them be more effective by relying on my ability to take complex concepts and use them effectively.
Another of my strengths is Strategic. This strength is about creating alternative ways to proceed; about quickly spotting the relevant patterns and issues. This strength is precisely related to my superpower of connecting unseen or hidden patterns.
A big part of connecting unseen or hidden patterns is being able to absorb lots of information and sort through it quickly to see what is relevant. I value wisdom and authenticity, and those values coupled with Strategic explains a lot of why I do what I do.
Your superpower might not tie in every part of your superpower model, and that is okay.
This process of finding the different parts of you - your values, strengths, and social currencies - gives you more awareness about yourself.
Discovering your superpower then becomes about sifting through these pieces and discerning the ones that identify what you care deeply about and what you are best at.
Your superpower is the sweet spot in the middle of all the amazing things that you are and care about, and it is also why you are here.
Poet David Whyte said that “the forces and tides that make up your life will never appear again.” The same is true of your Superpower. No one has the same combination of experiences, values, strengths, and social currencies as you.
Once you have found your superpower, you will have gained significant insight on how to find your purpose and passion in life: just use your superpower!
Pick the direction that aligns with your superpower and the rest of your superpower model, and go use it!
Some life purpose examples might be:
Helping empower women by teaching them financial planning
Teaching and mentoring young kids
Communicating the heart of people’s stories
Facilitating personal growth in others
There are infinite life purposes out there, and you can find your specific life purpose by finding your superpower!
The purpose of discovering your superpower isn’t just to know it. It is to use it to create the most incredible, fun, purposeful, and authentic life you possibly can.
So pick a direction that aligns with these deepest and truest parts of who you are and move in that direction each day.
If you want some more advice on how to do that, you can check out Grow Yourself in the superpower system. You can also get my finding your life purpose book, What’s Your Superpower? to get the full story and even more life-changing tips.
Comment with your superpower below!
Your cape awaits!
P.S. Want even more great resources on finding your life purpose? These are some of my favorites:
The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard J. Leider
Through the Dark Woods by Dr. James Hollis (CD set)
Play to Win: Choosing Growth over fear in work and in life by Larry Wilson and Hersch Wilson
The Other 90% By Robert K. Cooper
Repacking Your Bags, Lighten Your Load for the Good Life By Richard J. Leider and David Shapiro