A life without purpose is directionless. Without purpose, one gets pulled by every passing pleasure, and pushed by every twinge of fear.
A sense of accomplishment and an ongoing satisfaction and joy with all of life can only come from having established a life purpose, and consistently living into that purpose. One cannot live a life of purpose based on any kind of moral or spiritual obligation. Rather, living a life of purpose is a path to be consciously chosen because of its many great rewards.
Having a life purpose provides a compass for guiding your direction, and a touchstone for empowering your every decision. Until you have a clear idea of your life purpose, there is no way to know whether any particular task or project is important or not. Is today’s physics homework important? Is going to the gym today important? Those questions can only be answered within the context of one’s life purpose. A task may appear urgent, but being “urgent,” in the sense of another person having stated a deadline, does not make a task truly important in the sense of enlarging your life.
Your life purpose can be ANYTHING you choose it to be. You don’t “find” your life purpose. Your life purpose isn’t like anyone else’s – it is uniquely yours. Your life purpose wasn’t written on some heavenly scroll before you were born. Your life purpose is whatever you choose it to be.
Your life purpose can be to become a great baseball player, or to plant apple trees, or to have many children, or to end world hunger. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else agrees with your life purpose, and it doesn’t matter whether you ever achieve your goals. What does matter is that your life purpose consistently drives your life, and that you make all your big decisions consistent with your life purpose.
There is, however, one element that is almost always present in every life purpose that continues to satisfy and motivate throughout one’s life. That element is being of service to others. If the life purpose you choose improves the world, it is far more likely that you will stick to that life purpose and that you will live your life guided by that purpose. This is not to say that a service-oriented life purpose is “better,” just that it is more likely to be satisfying and motivating.
It is very unlikely that your statement of life purpose, however much it inspires and motivates you, contains any elements that you can directly take action on today. Suppose your purpose is to end world hunger – that doesn’t tell you how to begin today.
The easiest way to get an idea of how to begin today in fulfilling your life purpose is to work backward from your tombstone.
Determine a smaller goal, which you will necessarily have to achieve on the way to your ultimate goal.
Repeat, by determining a even smaller goal, which you will necessarily have to achieve on the way to your intermediate goal.
Continue this process of moving the time-frame back toward the present until you define an interim goal which you sense you can effectively work toward.
Now, begin writing a plan that starts today and leads to the accomplishment of that first interim goal.