Purpose is a loaded word. So here are 3 different, simpler steps to finding your life purpose. Be prepared for some hard truths.
1. READ THIS ARTICLE FROM HUNTER S. THOMPSON
If you’re looking for life guidance, why not reach out to the experts? Hunter S. Thompson is one of the greatest American authors of all time. A friend, Adam Hume, asked the same question to Hunter that we are asking right now. His profound answer will start unlocking the secret to finding your life purpose. I strongly recommend you read the entire letter at this link, and then come back. But if you’re in a hurry, here is the most important part.
“ To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors— but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. A man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES.
“THE GOAL IS ABSOLUTELY SECONDARY”
In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires). In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a predefined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary.“
Does that make sense? When you’re looking for life purpose, don’t look at careers, destinations, or titles. Look at yourself. Look at your abilities. What abilities and talents do you have (or can nurture) that will help you reach your desires? The opportunities are endless, so just choose a path. Before you move on, take a moment to brainstorm your abilities and desires. How many different goals fit your requirements?
2. WHAT DO YOU GET EXCITED ABOUT?
Instead of getting all worked up about your life purpose, think about what get you excited (or at least interested) right now? Honestly, some of you won’t have an answer for this question. If you don’t feel depressed, but you can’t get excited about any type of “work”, then here might be the hard truth; you’re lazy and disconnected. Laziness is always right around the corner, waiting for one break in your routine.
Sometimes, getting out of this rut takes a shock to your system. Try a week without your vices. Turn off your video games and television. Leave your phone off. Read, think, and walk. The first few days, you’ll feel like you’re going insane. The next few days, something deep inside you will awaken. It’s a hunger for something more. When we take away everything we use to cover up our dissatisfaction, it comes alive and leads us in the right direction.
YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK.
Here’s another hard truth: A passionate, rewarding, exciting, and powerful lifestyle takes a ton of work. You need to build relationships, give back, plan events, learn new things. There is no satisfied individual sitting on the couch.
Sometimes, our end goal might be to make enough money so we can sit on the couch all we want. It’s tempting, and it will also get old very fast. Think about some power players, like Jay-Z or Mark Cuban. Jay-Z could probably sit on the couch for the rest of his life and be just fine. Why doesn’t he? Because he has life purpose. Because he knows it’s a life wasted.
If your house “closed” every day at 8AM – 5PM, how would you spend your day? When you answer this question, don’t mention specifics. Chances are, many of us would love to be a scuba diving instructor in the Keys, or a travelling photographer. And chances are, you can be that! That’s not the point of this exercise, however.
What abilities and activities do you enjoy? Do you enjoy working with people, or alone? Do you enjoy creative work, or the satisfaction of solving a difficult math problem? Would you like to move around, or do you love to stay in one place? What can you, with practice, be better at than anyone else in the world?
By answering this question without specifics, you still leave the door wide open. Someone who loves solving problems, staying at home, and working alone will be incredibly passionate about science. Those who enjoy working with others and traveling can become incredibly wealthy by selling products and services. Before you move on, start locking down the abilities you’re good at, the general activities you love to do, and the end desires you have. Step three is probably the most important of them all.
3. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO IMPROVE THE WORLD?
This is the real key, and all that matters in the end. If you want a life of adventure, purpose, and fulfillment, you have to improve the world.
It doesn’t have to be the whole world, unless that’s your vision. We encourage it to be. But social workers improve the lives of just a few others around them. Local business leaders improve the world of the town they live in. Artists improve the world of those who truly connect with their work. Fitness trainers improve the world and health of their clients. There is no one who is satisfied with their lives who is not making improvement. They may be famous or wealthy, but they are not at peace.
Oh, by the way, you are going to die someday.
In ancient Samurai culture, they meditated on this fact every single day. They worshiped the idea of death, because it allows you complete freedom and focus. When you are fully aware that you are going to die soon, you are going to enjoy this day. You are going to help that person, and remember your work. You are going to strive.
How do you want to be remembered? Before you move on, take a moment to brainstorm where you want to have an impact. It could be with an actual cause, like solving world hunger. Or, it could simply be working in an area where you can help people smile more during their day.
BONUS STEP: RELAX, BUT DON’T STOP
Listen. Those are just three simple steps to finding your life’s purpose. That doesn’t mean you’re supposed to know it by the end of this article. And what’s even more exciting is that your purpose will change as you continue to grow. You’ll build new skills, find new opportunities, suffer new setbacks. It’s a beautiful journey. So, relax. You don’t need to have it figured out yet.
However, you do need to be seeking. Every day, you need to be moving forward towards your current goal. You need to be improving your abilities, focusing your desires, and putting in the work. If you don’t have your passion now, you will never have it without effort. Just start doing things.
DON’T BOTHER ASKING WHY
One final note. Don’t ask the question “why”. It’s a trap. Don’t look for the meaning of life. We could throw all the cliches at you that we know, like, “The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” All of us will go through a moment where the entire future is ahead of us, the possibilities endless, and the trials painful. You might be tempted to ask “why” for motivation, or inspiration.
The whole point of this exercise is to work with what we have, and what we know. We know powerful happiness exists by helping others, and satisfaction comes from good friends and quality work. We know success is achievable through improvement, and mind, body, lifestyle balance. Focus on the work, take a walk, call a friend. We get one ride. Enjoy it.
Leave a comment: Do you have an idea about your purpose?
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