successful man who is happy about his life

Lesson 2 - Introductory Course in Living Your Success

Finding Your Purpose

You may have seen references to “your unique purpose” or the importance of knowing “your purpose” in the past and wondered what the big deal is. Very good question.

The significance of having a purpose, or mission, is that it gives your life focus, and it has a way of simplifying one’s life because your direction, choices, and decisions are guided by your purpose. It can take away a lot of indecision and confusion and give you, instead, clarity, focus, and a driving commitment to live true to your purpose, to deliver on your potential, and to serve others in some specific or unique way. It can be almost like fulfilling a promise.

Now I don’t know that I agree with the idea that every person has a single unique purpose as some people say. And in fact, I think your purpose can and probably should change over time. So, you can have multiple purposes in your lifetime.

When I got out of college and started my career, I would have said my purpose was to be a top-notch computer programmer and serve my employers and their customers in that way. Later, in IT management and project management, my purpose was to make great decisions and help my teams be successful by making great decisions about technology and doing great work to support our customers (usually other employees) in using technology successfully by making business functions more productive.

Along the way, in more explorations into personal growth and spiritual exploration, I discovered that I had a personal purpose to learn firsthand about “wholeness” and to share that knowing (which is much more than conceptual knowledge) with others. The wholeness I am referring to is about the network of relationships within the world, at all levels, but affect people personally and collectively. If you are not whole and holistic, you are not as healthy as you could be in specific aspects of yourself and your relationship to life – physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, creatively, and so on. And by “holistic”, I mean thinking and acting in terms of the big picture of yourself, your life, and the greater wholes of which you are part.

In the process of studying holism and learning to practice wholeness, I discovered that wholeness is very closely related to success. Thinking in broad terms, success is a kind of wholeness, and wholeness is success in quality of being and quality of relationships.

If you want to be successful at your core and in all aspects of life, pay attention to “being more whole” and to making the wholes of which you are part – marriage, family, teams, organizations, businesses, communities, and even mankind and the Earth ecosystem and cultural system – more healthy, intelligent, creative, and successful. That kind of approach will make you more successful in all ways, including financially.

But with that as a bit of mind-opening context, let’s come back to the point of finding your purpose

Many people do not know what they want to do or be in life, and they couldn’t immediately tell you what their purpose or mission is. So, how does one find his or her purpose?

You find your purpose, not by brainstorming and doing lengthy pro/con analysis about the infinite possibilities for your career, but instead by going within and thinking about what you are good at and what you love to do. But in thinking about your purpose, you must feel the feelings that come with the things you do – how you feel about them and what they mean to you. And you must make one key shift – you must shift from a totally selfish perspective of what “you love to do” to what you love to do AND would be of service and value to others (or to some particular groups of people). What do they feel about the things you do?

For example, you might love to paint artistically and know that your art appeals to people who love your kind of paintings. Your work may have some quirky or unique style that appeals to certain people. Or you love to make music that appeals to a targeted audience of that music. Or you love to repair or restore older classic automobiles and you go to extra efforts to deliver top quality work and help owners appreciate their cars even more. Or you love to teach kids or adults, and you know how to help them learn in the most effective ways. I could go on and on with examples, but hopefully you are starting to get the idea.

Your purpose is about what you love to do, but it’s also about how what you do touches, impacts, and serves others.

Now you might say “well, I like to explore the world by climbing mountains, and that’s not meant to serve others.” But if you share your experience – and you surely do with friends, family, and fellow travelers – through pictures, videos, letters, blogging, or by recording your personal stories and explanations of how it’s done, it could be widely shared with thousands of people who would be thrilled to hear and learn about what you’ve done.

It is not absolutely the case that your purpose has to be your full-time occupation and fully support you. I have pursued my love of personal development and spiritual exploration initially as a sideline of personal reading and study. But as time went on, I began to apply the principles and techniques I learned to not just my inner self, but to my work, relationships, and interaction with the world generally. And now I am shifting much more actively to sharing my experience and knowing with others who desire success as I do, and my sharing of success practices I have learned has now become full-time.

Others have found ways to apply their love of music, for example, in such ways as a daytime job in something related to music – such as a studio engineer – and spend their evenings and weekends practicing and performing with their band.

So, it may well be the case that your purpose could be full-time, as a studio or concert musician for one example. Or it could be part-time but maybe with aspects that are of benefit to you and others in your full-time work or in your outside personal life.

And, if you’ve ever had big dreams about how you might serve the world in a big way – by making great food at a restaurant, or building custom homes, or building unique custom furniture – and especially if you want to make the world a better place in some way, then those have the potential to become your purpose (or mission) in your life.

One last point, when I say your purpose is doing something you love to do, the more passionate you are (or become) about it the better. Your purpose, your mission, is something you’re passionate about. Passion is a pointer to purpose. But passion can and should grow over time. The more you know about your purpose, whatever it is, and know that it is right and meant for you, and that you can do it better than most people, the more passionate you will become!

So your mandatory exercise is...

Take the time to think about your purpose until you can decide with some certainty what your purpose is. And remember these two very important points:

  1. Don't get locked into logical analysis. Instead you must listen to (and feel with) your heart.
  2. Your purpose can be for the next stage of your life – which might be for the next 2 years. It doesn't have to be forever.

Sometimes it takes a while for your thinking about your purpose to become clear in your mind and fully thought out. But it’s worth the time and contemplation.

If you just can't decide about your purpose, maybe you don't have enough experience with the ideas that most appeal to you. In that case, make it your purpose to get more experience in those areas by learning and doing.

But, make it a goal to find your purpose because it is also part of finding your success.