If you will ask someone what their purpose in life is, most people won’t be able to answer. Although the answer to this question, which you will see at the end of this post is definite, the paths leading to it are almost indefinite and oftentimes paved with trial and error.
Let’s face it, most of us have no clue what we want to do with our lives. May it be after finishing high school, university, or after 10 years in the job. Some of us will even be afraid that the search will never end. By being persistent and following our path, however, all of us are able to reveal our true purpose in this world.
The meaning behind your purpose
Before we dive deeper into actually finding our purpose let’s first define what “finding your passion & purpose in life” really means. Of course, each of us likes the idea that we are born to fulfill a greater mission. “If I had only found my life purpose, I could become the next Buddha, Jesus, Einstein, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and so on.” Although this is a nice thought in concept, let’s face reality; only a few of us will be able to make such a huge impact on this earth and that is perfectly fine. What you have to understand is that your purpose in life isn’t where money, fame, and status are, although these might be byproducts of your success.
Your purpose in life is where your heart is. It is what you enjoy doing even without getting paid for it, without getting external validation.
You can earn all the money in the world or be admired by others but if you don’t enjoy what you are doing in life, if your heart is not in it, it will not make you happy. Others might still view you as successful, but you will be successful in their eyes and not in yours and your opinion is the only one that counts.
Translating your purpose into value for others
Being successful in life doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be earning tons of money or being at the top of the social ladder. Being successful means creating value for others.
And that is distinguishing your purpose from your hobby. With a hobby, you are creating value for yourself. You are enjoying yourself. This separates the one who is playing video games in his room all day from the one that is truly creating value for others by doing what he loves.
Let me give you an example of a successful person that might not earn any money but is still creating value for others. Think of a mother figure (no matter if male or female) that is taking care of her family. It is what she chose to do and what she enjoys most in life. She is not earning a penny but her purpose is raising a family and creating value for her children and her husband, which comes in the form of love, emotional support, and by nurturing the relationships inside the family. By raising polite, intelligent and compassionate children she is also creating value for society. Unfortunately, in our society, she would not be viewed as successful as a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, but she might be much closer to her purpose than him.
The question now is “If I were only to follow my heart how am I going to pay the bills?!”
The nature of your passion & purpose in life
Of course, this is a valid question. But usually, by creating value for others, value will flow back to you in various forms, of which one common form is money. If you are creating a product or service and people find value in it, they will pay you depending on that value. The more value you create, the more monetary value you will get in return.
This means that if you cannot pay the bills with what you love to do, maybe you are not creating enough value or you didn’t set up the right ways yet, for the value to flow back to you. Following your purpose, you will either have to find another way to transfer this value to others or you have to give it some time to get the ball rolling.
Fulfilling your purpose can also be a side project to your regular job. This may especially be the case if the monetary value you receive is not enough to make a living.
Depending on the nature of your purpose the value that will flow back to you will differ and may come in non-materialistic forms. Taken the example of the mother figure above this may come through love, compassion, and gratitude expressed by her spouse and children.
Realizing where you are and where you want to be
Although the nature of your purpose is diverse and depending on each individual, the root cause that triggers this quest for finding your purpose is common in most people. This root cause a lot of times is discomfort and unhappiness with the current situation which is causing the stress and friction in our lives. If you are looking for your purpose you are usually in a position where you are not satisfied with some aspect of your life. You might be in a job that you don’t like, you might lack the financial freedom to do what you love or you don’t have the relationships you desire.
Especially if you are younger and just graduated high school, and you are like most people, you will have no idea what to do. Other people, however, will have plenty ideas. But don’t do anything to make other people happy, that will make yourself unhappy!
What do I mean by that? Your friends and family love you and truly care about you. They want to protect you from life’s troubles and uncertainties. If you love someone you don’t want anything bad happen to them. The advice to them will always be to minimize risks and seek security to prevent them from suffering. You have to be aware of this behavior because without stepping out of your comfort zone, you will not make the progress you want and need. Life is there for you to learn and evolve and as the great philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said
Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
The only thing you have to do to be successful in your life is to experiment and live up to your own standards. Not the standards of society. Not the standards of your friends or family members.
The way to finding your purpose using a coconut and an onion
Now the coconut and the onion come into play. Most people think that finding your purpose in life is like cracking a coconut. It might be hard to crack, but once you crack it you are set. You have finally found your purpose and you will pursue this purpose for the rest of your life.
However, this is only a starting point. Let’s say you found out that you want to be a writer. Things don’t stop there. You will have to find out about which topics you would like to write. You will have to start different projects to constantly learn and improve your skills which will put you on a path to attain mastery.
Finding your purpose in life is then more like revealing one layer after the other, which relates better to an onion than to a coconut. By removing one layer after the other, you are learning and evolving layer by layer and you will move closer and closer to your deepest purpose.
Although the path to finding your purpose has endless forms the deepest purpose for all human beings in principle is one. It is the quest to finding our true self.
Quest for the true self
Our deepest purpose is to awaken to our true self. Deep down we want to know who we really are. Most often, however, we turn to life to tell us. We turn to external sources such as our friends, family, society, tradition, culture or other social constructs for an answer.
But don’t try to ask life what your true purpose is. You will never find an adequate answer.
To understand life is to understand ourselves. Life is asking YOU what your true purpose is, every single day, not the other way around. Your job is to answer this question day after day for the rest of your life! Never try to escape this responsibility.
If you are searching for the one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror. You won’t get an answer from anyone but yourself, and how could you? You are the captain of your ship and the master to your destiny. By turning to other people or to social constructs such as tradition, religion or culture you are giving up part of your freedom. If you look for someone else to tell you what you should do and what your true self should look like you will give everything you do only part of your heart and people will be able to feel your inner ambiguity. You will be a robot of duty instead of your true, awakened self.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you cannot get the advice of other people. But always trust in yourself and follow your own heart!
This means educating yourself in fields that are interesting to you. Constantly trying to acquire new skills and abilities. Not staying in your comfort zone but rather trying to do things that scare you more frequently. By creating these habits you will be reprogramming your mind to moving closer and closer to your deepest purpose.
Now go out there and do what you were born to do!
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