(This article is part of a series exploring and applying the seven principles of Kwanzaa.)

The fifth day of the Kwanzaa is Nia (nee–YAH), which means Purpose. To commit ourselves to the glorious duty of restoring our families, our neighborhoods, and our people to their historical greatness. The principle of Nia makes us conscious of our purpose in view of our historical and cultural identity.

A Rich Cultural History Actually Inspires More Purpose

Anna Julia Cooper, prominent African-American scholar, author, educator, speaker, born a slave, reminds us that grounded in the Kwanzaa principle of Nia is the task of nation-building, and nation-building begins in the home. We achieve this by using our talents to advance African Americans (to advance our families).

Marcus Garvey, another key figure in African American history, led the first mass black movement of the twentieth century, calling Africans everywhere to reclaim their better selves. The movement inspired African people to dream again, constantly reminding them that they had once been kings and queens and rulers of great nations, and would be again. Moreover, Garvey awakened in black people a desire to be masters of their own destiny.

Inherent in this discussion of obtaining purpose from cultural and historical identity is generational responsibility.

“Each generation must discover its mission, [and then] fulfill it or betray it.” – Frantz Fanon

[Source: Learn more about the principle and practice of Nia here.]

When You Fulfill Your Purpose You Will Have Fullness of Life

Nia suggests that the highest form of personal purpose is in social purpose, that is, personal purpose that translates itself into a profession and commitment which then benefits the community. That level of purpose not only benefits the collective whole, but also gives fullness and meaning to a person’s life. Living your life only for yourself can not do that.

The principle of Nia will sound very familiar to my Discover Your Purpose clients. At the end of the program, each has uncovered a higher purpose far grander than themselves. They found the true difference they are meant to make for others and for generations to come. Purpose is a map to living a deeply fulfilling, powerful and passionate life.

Heather D. Shover, Wellness Coach at myHealthTorch.com said this about her experience in the program,

“In three short months, I went from a state of confusion to one of clarity and confidence. I can now clearly see so much about the rest of my life, and it’s inspiring, it’s confidence building, and it’s beautiful!”

For true greatness and growth never occur in isolation and at other’s expense. As African philosophy teaches, we are first and foremost social beings whose reality and relevance are rooted in the quality of our relationships. Our purpose is not to simply amass wealth, but to expand human well-being and the richness of human life.

There is a Proven, Direct Way of Uncovering Your Purpose

You are here for a reason, and it is never too late to discover why. You can live a life of fulfillment, success, and meaning, while making a difference for others. You may feel that there is something significant you are meant to do and long to have an impact, but you are not sure what it is.

I’m here to support you! In my Discover Your Purpose program, my clients already believe that their is a Trusted Source that knows their purpose. I teach them how to make a spiritual connection to uncover it, through direct methods like prayer, meditation, and journaling. But there are several indirect methods too, and they work for almost anyone. These are more general methods that help you take a good guess at your purpose. Here’s an indirect method that will help you learn something about your purpose, but you may need a coach to help piece it all together.

Look back over your life for clues. See if you can uncover times when you were on purpose. When you are on purpose, you’ll notice positive chance coincidences like people providing support and information when you needed it, traffic lights all turning green, a telephone call coming at just the right time, and you will feel enthusiasm, joy, more energy, or lose track of time.

Answer these questions to guide your exploration.

  1. When are the times in your life when you’ve felt most passionate or fulfilled?
  2. When are the times when you’ve felt most in harmony with your life?
  3. When are the times when you were engaged in an activity that seemed effortless, exciting, and fulfilling?
  4. When are the times when things were going well for you, when it seemed like you were firing on all cylinders and circumstances were conspiring to support you?
  5. What were you doing, or trying to do, when this was happening?

Write down your responses to each question; these clues will help you determine what your purpose might be.

What specific commitment will you make to practice “purpose” during the next year? Declare it in the comment section below.

If the subject of purpose interests you, and you want to learn strategies to access your purpose directly, then join my next Discover Your Purpose small group workshop. Imagine it! You can find and live your highest purpose in the new year.

Read more on the principle Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah) and what it teaches us about the purpose of wealth.

Learn more about the principles of Kwanzaa and how we practice them in One Degree Shift.