A purpose is what gives your life significance, it is also what inspires you and it is what gives you a sense of satisfaction once you have achieved it, for me it’s what gives me a reason for jumping out of bed every morning with an added spring in my step.
With this purpose comes a big picture view of your life and a feeling of resolve from deep inside you that keeps you going towards whatever your purpose is.
This article is about purpose, it will help you think about why having a sound idea of your purpose is essential, and also what you need to ask yourself to develop a purpose in your life.
So why develop a purpose?
Life has ups and downs, but with a sense of purpose you keep going despite the bumps along your journey, with purpose you also get resilience, grit and determination that keeps you going whilst others may fail. As Nietzsche said;
“He who has a why to live can bare almost any how”,
This is exactly why you need purpose it’s the catalyst that turns you ‘can’t into can do’s’, with a clear purpose you get resilience and grit, you can go the distance but most importantly you also get direction too.
‘Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction’. – JFK
Different Types of Purpose?
Some people drift through life aimlessly, and they don’t have any clear purpose what so ever, others are driven towards something and they have a clear ‘go to’ purpose.
For some however their purpose may simply be to avoid something painful or unpleasant, and for these people who’s only purpose is to avoid or run from something they have what is known as an ‘away from’ purpose. However strong an ‘away from’ purpose is it still needs to be converted into a go-to purpose for that person to get any direction into what drives them.
Imagine sitting in the back of a taxi cab and telling the driver where you don’t want to go, that’s not going to get you anywhere and it’s the same in life.
Yet for those with real purpose i.e. those going towards something there are 3 levels of purpose that drive these people (the go getters) on
The first and perhaps the most shallow level of purpose that people operate at is that of ‘materialistic purpose’.
At this level of purpose people are doing things for money or materialistic gain, simply they are working for that shiny new car on the drive, the pair of designer shoes, or that expensive Gucci handbag.
The second level of purpose is that of ‘egotistic purpose’ and this is where people are doing things to raise their self esteem, to raise their own self image.
There’s certainly some good to be had from feeling great about yourself, having good self esteem, self confidence and feeling secure about your place in society, yet for some people egotistic purpose goes too far.
It’s about having that new car so others can see it on their drive, or having the designer shoes so other people can see you wearing them and in this way egotistical purpose can be shallow and external.
The third level of purpose, the most important one by far is that of ‘intrinsic purpose’.
This is where your sense of purpose becomes an internal feeling that keeps you pushing forward.
At this level your purpose is aligned with your dreams, personal beliefs and values, for some intrinsic purpose is also their life purpose.
“the purpose of life is life with a purpose”.
The fundamental thing to understand is that materialistic purpose and egotistical purpose are mostly focussed on external not really internal reward, and if all you have are ‘external’ purpose you are in danger of having everything (external stuff) and still feeling empty inside, look at all the sportsmen and celebs fall down and become unhappy even when they have money, fame and fortune, and this is because their purpose in life is shallow and external and for them to feel complete they have yet to develop a real intrinsic purpose in their life.
The most successful people I know live for more than just materialistic gain, they aren’t really bothered about what other people think, instead they have a real purpose to their life, one that drives them on when others give up.
Having a strong sense of intrinsic purpose, makes you sure and resolute in character, defines your self identity, aligns your conscious and unconscious mind and because you have direction and are driven then success may not be too far away. It also tends to be that people who are successful in what they do also pick up most of the materialistic trappings of success along the way too.
The questions to ask yourself are;
What level of purpose do you predominately operate at?
Is there a gap where your intrinsic purpose should be?
So the question you should really be asking yourself now is how do you find your true purpose in life? and this is a question you must ask yourself if you want to tap into the ‘why’ and give your life meaning and direction.
To find inspiration ask yourself the following;
What do you want to do when you wake up in the morning?
If you could do anything on a day off, what would you do?
Make sure you are thinking about something intrinsic, make sure what you are doing is for you or for others around you, and make sure that thinking about your purpose makes you feel energized.
Make your purpose something that inspires you.
Your purpose could be intangible, it could even just be a feeling, it just has to be something big enough to encompass all of your goals, yet also small enough to write it down in one simple sentence.
Make your purpose something big, your purpose needs to be something that makes you grow as you strive towards it, you can even make it unachievable, because in life it’s always better to aim high and fall short than to actually aim too low and get what you don’t really want.