How to Find Your Purpose in Life
“The important thing is that men should have a purpose in life. It should be something useful, something good.” – Dalai Lama
Before awakening to the great truth of life, much of the pain in my years of victimhood, chronic fear, addictive behavior and eternal adolescence stemmed from an underlying belief that the universe, my actions and the world itself had no real purpose.
The universe was meaningless. Governments all lied. Men were all corrupt and power mad.
Life was just suffering. My conclusion was that I was bravely facing this tragedy.
I believed that it was noble to do this, never once questioning what gave me the authority to be the world’s judge.
Or even question why I had that ability in the first place.
Responsibility = Meaning
I’ve written previously how the acquisition of responsibility regarding your life is that which empowers you with a mission of growth, yet now we need to go one step further.
While taking responsibility for yourself and your life’s outcome is a brave and necessary move for a man, in order to maintain this for life, you need a goal that is bigger than you.
You need a goal that has far-reaching implications, that looks to goodness and eternity rather than your own selfish ends.
Your purpose must emotionally compel you.
This isn’t a mere opinion.
Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the creators of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), have long-studied how humans find ways of transcending phobias, limitations and belief systems.
In their findings, they articulate the importance of an individual being profoundly committed to a goal in the search for success.
Therefore, we don’t just need an emotionally compelling goal to orient your life and give it meaning, but to actively help you overcome (and dodge) the phobias, fears and compulsions that await you if you don’t pursue meaning.
Defining Your Goal
You don’t have to know what your purpose is immediately.
Take heart in the fact that we often need to be lost to be found. We need hardship to realize our efforts are needed to push for a better tomorrow.
This is true of all of the great men of history.
Would MLK be a great man without the oppression he faced?
Would Churchill represent the spirit of courage if he didn’t stand up to the Nazi menace?
Would Washington be great if he didn’t repel the British?
Would Socrates be great if he weren’t murdered in the name of the truth?
These are some of the finest examples of how hardship maketh the man, and while we may not all have the great callings of these men, the underlying principle of facing your unique life difficulty is the same.
Only you can define what your true purpose is.
You may already feel what it is in your bones.
However, sometimes it takes time.
In this case, take time for meditation and reflection. Allow yourself to sit in stillness. You can do that now.
Once you’ve developed a core purpose to guide you, now it is time to cut away the deadwood and the egoic fantasy from it.
We need true, noble purpose that offers good to the world and help to others. Not narcissism and self-obsession.
We don’t want lazy broad, unhelpful and vain concepts, such as ‘my purpose is to write / act / sing / fight / study / etcetera’.
Such examples do not represent a purpose in and off themselves. They are ways of achieving a purpose.
Further still, we need to garden out the myriad of purposes we already share as men.
These are: to procreate, to achieve wealth and status, to live in a nice secure home, to play sports, to teach others, etc.
As grand as these purposes are, they are generic and not unique to you.
Fine-tune what is unique to you.
- Grab a pen and a pad of paper and ask yourself what you uniquely face
- Ask where you can most be of benefit to other people considering the above
- Keep probing until you begin to formulate a purpose with clarity
- Utilize Socratic questioning to solidify your purpose (see model below):
What is my purpose?
How am I going to carry that purpose out?
Am I emotionally compelled to do this?
Finally, consider the ways of achieving your purpose. What barriers are you likely to face? What boundaries do you have and how can you transcend them? How can you work even when you don’t want to?
most importantly, how are you gonna get up when you fail?