Having a purpose is what gives our life meaning. Without it, each day would be filled with a series of aimless actions, and a series of days like that would only make us feel empty.
The thing is, even if we do have a huge, overarching purpose, it’s just so easy to get into autopilot – life has a tendency to do that to us when we’re not watching.
In the end, it could still all feel meaningless if we don’t have the habits to back it up and help us live out this purpose from one day to the next.
You see, ultimately, life is about what we do, not what we plan to do.
So, if you feel like you need to infuse your days with a sense of purpose, here are 10 habits to adopt:
1) Create a meaningful morning ritual
Let’s kick things off with how you start your day. Is one of the first things you do when you open your eyes to reach for your phone and start scrolling?
That used to be a habit of mine, too. But what I’ve realized is that mindless scrolling starts off my day exactly in that tone – mindless.
Today, I’m a fan of having a meaningful morning ritual. I no longer waste precious minutes watching reels and seeing what people have posted.
Now, my mornings consist of a quick stretch, a meditation practice, creating a gratitude list, and a hearty breakfast.
Each move I make in the morning is purposeful – all aimed towards starting my day on just the right tone.
I’ve compared my two mindsets (before vs. after), and I can definitely say that there’s a huge difference. Having a morning ritual makes me more focused and energized.
It’s completely up to you what your morning ritual looks like, as long as it serves to get you ready to seize the day. (I do hope mindless phone scrolling isn’t part of it, though!)
2) Make time for exercise
As a former couch potato, I’m happy to report a huge difference as well between a life devoid of physical activity vs one that isn’t.
For one, exercise (or movement in general) gives me those endorphins that uplift my mood.
And two, it makes me feel more purposeful in the sense that I feel like I’m investing in my future. I’m doing the hard work now because I want to make my golden years more enjoyable.
If you’re not a fan of exercise, that’s okay. Start with slow stretches or go for a walk in your neighborhood. There are lots of ways to move your body without feeling like it’s a punishment!
3) Set short- and long-term goals
Of course, you can’t have a purposeful day without goals. That’s the easiest way to lapse into autopilot.
That’s why it’s important to define your goals, both short- and long-term.
For instance, your long-term goal might be to get in shape or aim for a promotion. Or maybe it could be to save enough for a month-long trip to Europe.
You could then break them down into smaller steps that nudge you closer to those goals each day.
Other short-term goals could include the things you need to do (or would like to start doing) every week, such as:
- Finish reading a book (which means you’d have to set aside half an hour or an hour to read each day)
- Meal planning for the week (which prevents defaulting to last-minute takeout or fastfood)
- Organizing your space or your house (which, by the way, helps in keeping you focused every single day)
The idea is to make your daily life a series of purposeful actions rather than random events. When you know what you’re aiming for, every step you take feels meaningful.
This brings me to my next point…
4) Be present in the moment
Now here’s where it gets tricky – you’ve got to keep those goals in mind, but also stay in the moment.
When it comes to living each day with purpose, you’ve got to have mindfulness. That’s the quality that lets you engage fully with the here and now, without being dragged down by regrets of the past or worries about the future.
(That’s also the reason why I decided to include a mindfulness meditation practice in my morning ritual – I needed to cultivate the art of being mindful, as I was too deep in autopilot and needed to dig myself out of that hole.)
The reality is, no matter how ambitious your goals are, it’s the actions you take in the here and now that determine your path.
Mindfulness enables you to pour all of yourself into whatever you’re doing and elevates even the most mundane tasks into purposeful experiences.
It’s a key ingredient that adds a layer of richness to your daily life. In my experience, that layer turned out to be “joy”.
I now notice little details I used to miss when I was on autopilot mode. Things like flavors, textures, colors…they all became little elements to savor and make my day more exciting.
5) Cultivate positive relationships
Another habit to add to your repertoire is to cultivate good social connections. By good, I mean people who uplift and support you.
You see, the company we keep plays a huge role in the quality of our daily lives.
For instance, I used to hang out with a group of my co-workers. But for some reason, I always felt drained after spending time with them.
Eventually, I figured out that there was too much comparison going on, too much talking about office gossip…
The bottom line – it wasn’t a healthy kind of friendship.
It hit me that life is short – so the time I have, I need to spend it wisely. With people who help me to be a better person.
You may have people in your life who drain you instead of inspire you. So consider if the time you’re spending with them is time you can afford to lose.
6) Filter out distractions
This is closely connected to my previous point. Usually, when we talk of people who drain us, it’s because there’s some sort of drama, gossip, or negativity going on.
The problem with all this noise is that it’s distracting. You could start your day right with the best of intentions, but if you get sucked into drama or gossip within the day, you’d be squandering away your focus.
And your precious time.
Because when you think about it, what do you do with all that noise? How does it enrich your life, right?
Equally, your own ego could be a distraction. Or your inner critic. That voice is just as distracting as external drama, and it’s often harder to shut off.
So my advice is to treat your focus as a resource that’s just as valuable as time. Once you start filtering out both external and internal distractions, you’ll find that your days become a whole lot more purposeful.
7) Learn something new
The great thing about filtering out distractions is that it gives you more room – more headspace – to actually nourish your mind and soul.
The most purposeful people make it a point to learn something new everyday. They have a growth mindset, and it’s very useful for those times when nothing much seems to be happening.
There’s nothing autopilot at all when you’re intentional about learning something new, right?
Even failures become meaningful and purposeful when you get into the growth mindset. Instead of feeling discouraged, you could reflect on them and find the right takeaway from your mistakes.
Which leads me to the next habit…
8) Get into daily journaling
This practice is one of the biggest factors that keep me purposeful each day. I think of my journal as a sacred space where I can have honest conversations with myself.
It’s a way of developing self-awareness, really. Seeing your thoughts on paper makes them more real. More actionable. It reveals patterns that could otherwise be missed.
If you’re new to journaling and don’t know where to start, use these questions as a jumping point:
- What went well today?
- What could be improved?
- What did I learn?
- How can I do better tomorrow?
Journaling does two things for me. First, it gives my day a sense of closure so that I can go to bed with a clearer mind and a lighter heart.
And second, it gives me a sense of accountability. Writing down my actions, thoughts, and feelings acts as a commitment to myself.
As if that wasn’t enough, it helps me to…
9) Practice gratitude
It might seem simplistic, but the act of consciously acknowledging the good in your life has been scientifically proven to improve your emotional well-being.
Gratitude serves as a daily reminder that no matter how tough things may seem, there’s always something to be thankful for.
Ultimately, the positive nature of gratitude can give your life a meaningful direction. Like, you may not even be sure where you’re going yet, but it’s definitely something to look forward to!
10) Do something nice for someone
Finally, if your days are feeling a little humdrum and aimless, do something nice for someone else. Even for a stranger.
You know why? Because the act of kindness and helping improves our sense of belonging, value, and purpose. It benefits us just as much as the people we help.
Isn’t that awesome?
If you ask me, there’s nothing more meaningful than knowing you make the world a better place!