Prescription: Find your life
purpose. Pursue your purpose to the death.
What is Life Purpose?
An overarching mission in life. Your life’s work. Something important enough, noble enough, beautiful enough for you to die for. Something you choose to completely commit yourself to.
Why is it Important?
Having a life purpose grounds you, maximizes your chances for career/business success, and gives you opportunities for a high-quality satisfaction that comes from having a great career that has a meaningful impact on the world. Increased flow experiences. Mastery. Money. Autonomy.
Life Purpose: Key Points
Find something outside yourself that you can commit to. If you aren’t sure of what that could possibly be, commit right now to do whatever it takes to find it.
Your purpose should be about the positive, creative impact you want to have on the world. What do you want to create? What do you want to express? Who do you want to help? What wrongs do you want to right in society? How do you want to change humanity?
- “The ignorant work for their own profit while the wise work for the welfare of the world, without thought for themselves.” — Bhagavad Gita
- It’s not about how much money you want to make or who you want to please. It’s about being passionate, expressive, and useful to society.
What are you willing to die for? If you’re not willing to die for anything, A) How will you out-compete someone who is? and B) You will not do what is necessary to be great. Being great takes too much work.
What is the most meaningful thing in life? That should be your purpose. It’s actually very easy to dig out, but being honest with yourself about it is anything but easy. Your mind with create excuse after excuse about why you can’t do that. Why you can’t make money doing the thing that you find most meaningful.
Purpose is completely personal. There is no right meaning. Different people will have completely different purposes and meanings, and that’s okay. Ultimately, nothing is more meaningful than anything else, it’s just a matter of what resonates with you.
There should be no other alternative out there that’s more meaningful to you than the path you’re on, otherwise you will always second-guess yourself and pine for that alternative. As soon as you see such an alternative, that now becomes your purpose and you must have the courage to undertake any necessary realignment.
You’ve found your purpose when you’ve completely committed to a path of mastery in domain of life. You need to see it in your mind: “Wow! This field is soooo cool! I am going to master it.”
Your purpose will take time to grow into. Even once you’ve got the core it of it defined, it will start to evolve and specialize as you go deeper into it. You will start to notice that some aspects of the domain appeal to you more than others. Don’t get complacent, you will have to keep working hard to make small realignments.
As David Deida says, life purpose is like an onion and keeps evolves forever. With every layer you peal back, you are getting closer and closer to your true self. Sometimes a particular purpose can be completely outgrown.
- That’s why you should have two purposes: a general purpose and a specific purpose. The specific purpose may totally change in a few years, but your general purpose should stay constant throughout your life. It should reflect your deepest values without particulars to any job or business. Example, “To create amazing things that improve society.”
Life purpose applies equally well to working for someone else or running your own business. If you’re running a business, purpose is even more important because it’s harder, persistence is more important, and nobody else will be there to motivate you.
Most people fail to live with their true purpose because it takes discipline and hard work to shift from the wrong path to the right path. Unless you were very luck and started on the right path early in life, you are probably not on track with your purpose now. It takes some trial and error to discover what work resonates with you. It takes time and effort to discover your values and what is most meaningful for you. But then the real work begins of changing your life to align with your purpose. This is where people fail. Alignment takes vision, strategy, effort, persistence, courage, learning new skills, developing yourself, and simply working your way out of the circumstances you’re in. It’s much easier to settle for the life you happened to fall into than redesigning the whole thing. For some people, this redesign is more drastic than others.
Your purpose should resonate with your on a emotional level — because it’s the most meaningful area of life to you. Your purpose should make you cry when you think about it. Seriously!
Top excuses for not having a purpose:
- I don’t know what my purpose is. Nothing out there excites me.
- I’m afraid of admitting that everything I’m doing now is wrong.
- I don’t know how to accomplish it.
- But that’s going to take a lot of work!
- I can’t do that! This is too farfetched. This is a pipedream.
- It’s too late for me.
- What if I fail?
- What if I choose the wrong purpose?
- Purpose isn’t that important. It’s not worth the hassle.
- Purpose is something you’re just born with.
- I don’t have the money to quit my job.
- I’m happy with my current job.
- I’ve tired several different jobs and I’m not any closer to finding my purpose.
When you’re on purpose a lot of other issues fade away. Going to the gym becomes easy. Overeating becomes a non-issue. Negative thoughts disappear. Focus becomes easier. Sleepiness becomes less of an issue. Loneliness is not an issue.
Attacking the small issues in your life when the big issue (of being off purpose) isn’t resolved, doesn’t increase fulfillment significantly and creates distress because the fixes are temporary and diversionary.
Your family and kids are not a life purpose. Starting a family and raising kids is great, and challenging, but it is not a substitute for doing work you love. Your kids will leave the nest at 18 or 22, or you might have a falling out with your kids. Where will you be then? No. You need something in your life that you can own, that you are developing mastery in. And that pays the bills.
Examples of strong life purposes:
- To be the best hairstylist in the world
- To be a motivational speaker
- To write novels that change peoples lives
- To create music that makes people happy
- To advance our understanding of biology
- To help abandoned animals find good homes
- To teach the next generation of kids how to think
- To reduce government corruption
- To defend the homeland
- To create technologies that change people lives for the better
- To create movies that make people think
- To help people get control over their own health
- To help people overcome drug addiction
- To transform the quality of public education
- To transform the healthcare system
- To a create a chain of healthy fast food restaurants
- To teach people how to invest in stocks
- To counsel couples through divorce
- To design new toys for kids
- To change the auto industry
- To develop and promote new types of green energy
- To play in the NFL