You don’t know what the hell you should do with your life? You struggle to find purpose in life? You feel like life is pointless? You’re going in circles and you can’t find a meaningful career or path to pursue? Hold on tight – you’re about to discover the power of purpose.
We hear it all the time…
Purpose that. Purpose this. Purpose everything.
When I was first introduced to this concept, purpose, I thought it was something spiritual. Something abstract. Something uncool, actually. “I’m a millennial, I don’t need purpose. I have Facebook. I’m too cool for this mumbo-jumbo,” I thought.
And I didn’t do anything. I’ve spent years chasing false beliefs and thinking that life is measured by the number of possessions and the car you park in your garage.
But after I bought a house, a nice car and after my closet was full of clothes which I rarely put, suddenly my life felt pointless.
“Is this is? You just go to work so you can later spend all of your money on things you don’t actually need or use?”
Surely there had to be something more. That’s why I started reading. I devoured book after book. Searching for something else. I wanted to find an answer to this fundamental question about life as fast as possible.
But the answer didn’t come that easy.
It took me years to understand what purpose actually is what you should do to find one for yourself.
So, if life-changing questions are circling in your mind, too. I hope the words below can help you align your thoughts in a particular direction and finally find something meaningful to do.
What Exactly is Life Purpose?
First off, let’s explain briefly what purpose is not.
It’s not a physical thing. You can’t buy purpose in 7-Eleven. You can’t find it on the street. And you surely can’t spot it somewhere amongst the endless stream of tweets and other social media posts – even Google can hardly help.1
But most importantly, purpose is not this higher power. This cosmic mission is defined by your birthdate. This notion that you’re born with it and that you should go see a doctor to look inside you using modern equipment to tell you what you should do with your life.
Contrary to most people’s understandings, purpose is not something you simply choose. There is something more to that. It’s a way of living. Or in other words, you shouldn’t try to find purpose, rather, your aim should be to live purposefully.
Let me elaborate.
To live purposefully means to use your skills, talents, and resources to make a better future for you and for the people around you.2
Seems too ambitious for you?
I thought so. After all, we’re living in an era where half-naked Instagram photos are the norm. Stating that you want to make the world a better place naturally triggers a rolling eye effect.
So, let me rephrase it a bit using modern language:
Purpose is using your time, money, and even your social profile for important things. Things like: building an app that can help blind people order food. Teaching kids how to properly use technology. Inspiring your peers to be mindful about their possessions and the amount of waste they are producing. Trying to help others consume less stuff so we can finally have breathable air. Organizing massive riots around the world to make the government understand that there is actually a big problem regarding our environment.3
You see, it is something more than just sharing articles from Medium on your Facebook page. To live purposefully means to align all of your current and future decisions towards your desired objective.
Sound complicated and restrictive?
I totally understand.
But before you go back to your daily routine that involves clicking and liking stuff on the internet, let me at least explain why finding purpose in your life is kind of cool.
Why You Should Have a Purpose?
While hanging in social media feels euphoric, entertaining, exciting, dopamine-hitting breathtaking, it kind of doesn’t make sense to do it in the long run. Surely, commenting on other people’s posts and chatting 24/7 will make you an online superstar, but I haven’t seen anyone becoming a millionaire by going through all the shared posts online and hitting the like button, nor uberly satisfied by this activity.
You probably don’t realize it right now, but after just a few years, your current online presence won’t mean much.
There will be another Instagram. Another Facebook and you’ll have to gain followers again.
All of the efforts. All the hard work will be lost. Gone. You’ll have to start all over again.
And for what?
For a few more likes?
Come on! Get real. Nobody gives a shit about your new profile photo. People are liking it because they don’t have anything else to do.
The same principle applies to playing video games, watching TV, listening to music, maxing out your credit card on Black Friday. Laying on your couch, behind a screen, and doing meaningless things won’t make you feel better in the long run.
These tasks feel good only at the time they are performed. After you close the phone, you see the real world around you. You see your messy house and your unhealthy body. And what do you do? You go back online because you can’t bear the harsh reality. You go back to scrolling and liking to avoid the realness. Instead of taking ownership of your life, you choose the easy path.
The path that makes you feel good today, but it slowly sabotages your future self.
It can be way different if you have a purpose. Once you have some sort of goal, you’re no longer half-dead couch-potato doing nothing. You’re a person with drive and aspirations. You get up inspired and you know what you should do.
That’s the main benefit of having a life’s purpose. You finally know what you should do with your time and you no longer have to hide behind your phone to enjoy life.
The 3 Levels of Purpose
While I was researching the topic, I’ve noted that there are 3 different levels of purpose. We all start from level 1, intentionally or not, but we’re only happy if we reach level 3.
Let’s take a look at them together so you can find out where you are right now in terms of what you want to get out of life and also how you can level up.
Level 1: Internal Purpose:
- Main Goal: Your only purpose in life is to enjoy yourself.
- Positives: You’re careless of what others think about you and that seems to cheer you, at least for now.
- Negative: You’ll most probably end up alone – no friends, no partner, no one to spend your money with.
People with internal purpose are, in most cases, egoistic assholes who only do things only if there is a profit for them.
Unfortunately, a large portion of our society is driven by this way of living. Which is kind of normal. Since humans are egoistic by nature, they mainly focus on doing things that will benefit only them.
They are not trying to please society or other peers, everything they do is about pleasing their own rational self-interest.
And while this seems great if we’re trying to win the Hunger Games.4 People with internal purpose are rarely happy. We’ve all heard stories of rich millionaires hanging themselves after years of hard work. At some point, they realize that their whole life was a waste because they are alone and there’s no one that can bear them.
Level 2: External Purpose
- Main Goal: You crave for world peace.
- Positives: You’re a good person with good intentions.
- Negatives: Since you’re trying to help every living creature on the planet your efforts are scattered and you’re barely doing any lasting impacts in the world.
Self-help literature focuses on giving. Give clothes. Give money. It’s all about giving.
And while this is good and all, it’s still not the best approach.
If you simply give, give, give, without actually picking and sticking to a particular cause, you won’t be able to contribute to the fullest. It’s like donating half a kidney to a person in need.
Half of the people in this stage help others mainly around Christmas because other folks are also contributing. The other half are spending a lot of their resources on different things but they can be contributing even more with the same efforts. Also, feel a lot better themselves if they have a clear goal.
If you really want to make a lasting impact, and truly be satisfied with your life, you should focus on level 3 kind of purpose.
Level 3: Targeted Purpose
- Main goal: You have a clear and well-defined purpose that helps you get up in the morning.
- Positives: You feel satisfied because you know you’re doing the right thing – spending your time doing important things.
- Negatives: It takes years to see any real results.
The thing you should aim for – targeted purpose.
You know what you want to do with your life. You know what’s important for you. You don’t waste time pursuing other things. You stick to the one thing you care about, regardless of all the pain, the struggles, and the failures that accompany this vision.
When you get up, you know what you’re going to do, but most importantly, you know why you’re doing this.
On top of that, you don’t do it for fame or the glory, you do it because you feel that this is the right thing to do. That the thing you’re doing, in some way, will help a specific group of people live a better life.
OK. We now know what is purpose and what type of purpose you need to pursue.
Next stop, how to actually find purpose?
What Do You Want To Be Written On Your Tombstone?
Thinking about your own funeral is kind of freaky. I know. But considering your own departure to the afterworld, or wherever, can be really practical and actually worth thinking about.
Well, besides scary, death can also be a catalyst for a great change.
After all, do you really want your tombstone to state something like this: “Here lies Tim. Tim tweeted 30,000 times, not counting the retweets.”
Thinking about your death – many years from now hopefully – can give you a fresh perspective about the things that are important for you, today.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what’s really important for you at this very moment. After all, you were obsessed with the number of followers you have on social media a moment ago. Take your time, think about it. Ask your friends. Write it down. Then, revise it.
Ultimately, you’ll come up with a plan to do something – focus on one or two things – that is bigger than you and that can actually help other people live a better life.
But don’t go overboard with your statement.
Saying that you’ll “change the world” and/or bring “world peace” might sound totally badass, but we’ll all know that you’re simply trying to impress others.
Think about how you would like to be remembered and what you can possibly do, today, that can potentially outlive you and inspire generations to come.
Essentially, a life’s purpose is something you deeply care about and something that’s making the world of a few people a bit better because of what you do.
Some Closing Thoughts
I want to end this post with the following parable:
Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?”
The first says, “I am laying bricks.”
The second says, “I am building a church.”
And the third says, “I am building the house of God.”
The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.
But since we’re in the 21st century, I want to add a fourth bricklayer in the picture. What was he doing? Sharing the progress on social media.
What’s the main difference between the four?
- When you consider your job to be primarily a source of income, you don’t pay much attention to it.
- When your aim is to have a career you view it as something you do to find another job.
- When your main aspiration in life is to share what you’re doing with others, you don’t really know what you want in your life, you just want others to like you.
- When you have a calling, you want the work you do to solve important problems. To slightly improve the existence of others.
Not surprisingly, only when you have a calling, a well-defined purpose, you’ll be motivated enough to make your days on this planet count.
- Yes, while there are hundreds of articles appearing when you search for purpose online, most of them are not properly answering the question. The content is mostly there to sell you something.
- The “living purposefully” concept was something I found in the following article: LINK.
- A lot of people think that Greta Thunberg is insane – the person behind the recent climate protest – but I secretly admire that girl. She’s ambitions and she’s doing more for our society than all of our politicians put together.
- Remember the movie where folks from different districts are put in an arena to fight till there’s only one man standing?