It’s the age-old question: how do I find purpose in life? So many avenues today promise you the fulfillment you’re looking for. From substances to sports, careers to money, you’ll find no shortage of avenues if you’re looking to invest in something you believe will provide purpose.

If you’ve tried to find true belonging in money, drugs or possessions, you’ll be able to speak from experience: these options fall short when it comes to delivering the deep purpose you know you deserve. In fact, pouring your resources and time into the wrong things can leave you more frustrated than ever before, once you begin to experience the emptiness behind the promise of fulfillment that substances and jobs claim to deliver.

That’s not to say that you can’t find satisfaction in life’s pleasurable pursuits. There’s nothing wrong in pursuing the career you want and pursuing the lifestyle you want to live. However, the danger comes when we define ourselves according to what we do instead of rooting ourselves firmly in who we are.

Let’s dive into four proven methods for identifying purpose and belonging in life, regardless of where life might find you.

Seek out community

Human connection is so important. It’s one of the main lessons we’ve learned this year, given the global pandemic that’s prompted the adoption of a new normal across the board. Working from home has become the norm, meetings have gone online, social distancing is mandatory and masks cover many of the ways we express emotion.

And despite the distance, COVID-19 has somehow brought humanity closer together. It has rallied us behind a cause we can all support. This togetherness – whether we’re tuning into a virtual video call or we’re gathered in a living room, celebrating a holiday – is critical when it comes to finding one’s purpose. Humans are made for connection. Isolation can only drive us further from understanding who we are meant to become.

So whether it’s a city softball team, a close group of friends or simply a Facebook group for motorcycle enthusiasts, community works to foster trust, togetherness and ultimately a strong sense of belonging. If you’re seeking purpose, it’s likely that you’ll find it when you find a supportive, non-judgmental community that loves you as you are.

Make time for yourself

This is a simple one: make sure that you make time for yourself! It almost goes without saying, but cars without gas cannot drive. In the same way, you can’t be expected to fulfill expectations, accomplish daily tasks and prioritize mental health if you don’t first make the time to address your own concerns.

Especially if you’re someone who is typically generous with your resources and with your time, making time for yourself is often low on your list of daily and weekly priorities. Sometimes, taking time to emphasize personal health and wellbeing can almost feel selfish, particularly if you feel as though personal time is actively inhibiting your productivity. Ultimately, it’s this mentality that prevents so many individuals from taking critical time out of their busy days to spend even ten or fifteen minutes ensuring that they stay mentally sound and satisfied.

Making time for yourself doesn’t need to be complicated. After all, you know better than anyone what makes you happy. To you, maybe personal time means taking a quick walk around the neighborhood, or closing your laptop and spending a few minutes hanging with your pet. Whether making time for yourself means indulging in a favorite meal, enjoying a movie or simply being honest with yourself about where you’re at mentally, personal time heavily contributes to the deeper sense of purpose and meaning you’re looking to make your own.

Give yourself away

It’s ironic that one of the easiest ways to find yourself is simply to give yourself away. And with all due respect to the above step – taking time for yourself is critically important when it comes to finding purpose – there’s also something to be said for freely offering your time and talents to others.

Amazing things happen when you allow yourself to give freely. Oftentimes, this means giving small amounts of your time, your money or your talents to a worthy cause larger than yourself. When it comes to embracing that sense of belonging, few actions can help you find purpose like simply giving.

Don’t make it too hard on yourself; there are so many ways to practice active, healthy giving on a daily basis. Maybe this means taking time out of your day to give family members or friends a call, to show them you care. Maybe you’ve identified worthy causes worth a one-time or recurring donation. Maybe there are projects close to home that allow you to donate time and resources, to make the world a better place in a unique way.

Looking to experience that sense of purpose and long-lasting fulfillment you’ve been pursuing? Give yourself away. Your time and talents uniquely qualify you to benefit your local community and the world, and a strong sense of belonging is never far behind.

Pursue the new

If you’re serious about navigating life and pursuing purpose, you’ll want to make sure you spend a healthy amount of time outside of your comfort zone. Especially in the current pandemic landscape, you owe it to yourself to expand your horizons. If there’s a particular activity you’ve been meaning to try, try it. If there’s a meal you’ve been meaning to cook, cook it. If there’s a place you’ve wanted to visit, visit it. If there’s a career move you’ve been meaning to make, make it.

Pursuing new activities, interests and passions also means ensuring that you’re not living in fear. This isn’t to say that fear, doubt and hesitation aren’t going to arise. However, your faith in yourself and in your own resolve – whether you’ve been wanting to skydive, ask someone on a date or simply listen to new music – needs to override your fear. Instead of allowing hesitation to come between you and a newfound sense of purpose, use it a motivation as you pursue a happier, more adventurous side.

Prioritizing purpose means fostering healthy habits

If you’re serious about finding purpose and belonging, you know that oftentimes we can prevent ourselves from reaching our own goals. If substance use issues are coming between you and the purpose-driven life you know you deserve, Real Recovery in Asheville, NC is ready to help. Sober living and extended care programs help both men and women pursue the same freedom you’re pursuing. Call 1-855-363-7325, or reach out today to take steps toward purpose and belonging through freedom and recovery.