When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”
"A person with a clear purpose will make progress on even the roughest road. A person with no purpose will make no progress on even the smoothest road."
I believe each one of us is born with a unique purpose in life to fulfill. I believe there is a meaning to each one of our lives - that God does not create anything without reason. Purpose is what gives us a real sense of direction to our life. Without knowing our purpose, it is very easy to get sidetracked. Without purpose, we may be climbing the wrong ladder, and cutting down the wrong tree. Without purpose, we may be running very efficiently indeed, but headed in the opposite direction to where we really want to go!
As Henry David Thoreau said “Many wise men go fishing all of their life without knowing it is not fish they are after”. Having a purpose can mean the difference between making a living and making a life. Consistency of purpose is the secret of all successful people. Without a purpose, the actions we take and the goals we chase may not bring us fulfillment. Purpose is the why behind everything we do.
Here are the life purpose statements of some highly successful people:
“To uplift humanity’s consciousness through business”
-D.C Cordova - cofounder of the Excellerated Business School
“To humbly serve the Lord by being a loving, playful, powerful, and passionate example of the absolute joy that is available to us the moment we rejoice in God’s gifts and sincerely love and serve all of his creations.”
-Anthony Robbins, self-help guru
“To leave the world a better place than I found it, for horses and for people”
-Monty Roberts, author of “the man who listens to Horses”
“To create and inspire one million millionaires who each give $1 million to their church or charity”
-Mark Victor Hansen, coauthor of the “Chicken soup of the soul” series
How can we discover our life purpose?
The joy that we experience in doing certain activities is the real key to discovering our life purpose. Joy is our inner guidance system. An activity that is aligned with our purpose gives us immense joy. A person who is doing what is true to his purpose if often willing to do it even if he does not get paid for the work, as the satisfaction from the work is itself enough compensation for the work done.
Think of all of the times since childhood when you were inspired and really joyful. What were you doing then? How were you feeling? What was common in all the life experiences that gave you immense joy? Chances are that your purpose has something to do with those experiences. Also you can attempt to find your life purpose in meditation. After a session of meditation, ask yourself “What is the purpose of my life?”, “What am I here to do?” Allow the answer to come to you.
A purpose needs to mention not only what we will do and achieve, but also how our life will impact people around us. "Making a million dollars" can be a personal goal - it is however not a purpose, as it does not include other people in the statement.
Some questions you can ask yourself to find out about your purpose:
What work would you do, which you enjoy so much that you would be happy even if you did not get paid for it?
What does your heart long to do?
Who are you? Are you an athlete? An artist? An scientific mind? A businessman? A rockstar?
What do you love to become in your future?
What would you love to learn?
If there is something that you would teach, what would it be?
What drives you? love? peace? adventure? security?
What do you what to experience in this life?
"Purpose" is different from "goal"
Many times, people take "purpose" and "goal" to be one and the same. They are not one and the same. Here are the differences:
A goal is something that you attain one day, after striving towards it for sometime. Purpose is something that you are, because of which you have the drive to get up each morning and do what you want to do.
Your goal is one of your destinations, whereas purpose is your journey.
Attainment of goals/dreams is the effect, your purpose is the drive/cause.
Your goal gives you some direction, whereas purpose gives you something greater - a meaning for your life, without which even attained goals may not satisfy you for long.
Does our life purpose have to be grand?
It is not necessary that each one of us need to define a life purpose that has plans to change the whole world. Each of us has unique talents, skills, and drives. - we experience joy in doing different things. When you are on purpose, you become the best possible you, and only you know what makes you the best you.
Can a life purpose change?
Absolutely. We are all growing bigger and better each day. As we grow, so will our life purpose. Define your life purpose, and expect to refine it along the way.
The purpose of my life is to humbly serve God by inspiring and empowering people to live a life full of love, joy and fulfillment.
How did I arrive at the above purpose?
I found that I experience great joy when I write inspirational articles/quotes, and when I am answering questions that ask for solutions to challenging life situations. It brings me great fulfillment to know that my work impacts the lives of many people positively. I love learning and sharing wisdom. I love to take something apparently complex and explain it in a simple way. I love contemplating on different topics on a daily basis and writing on them. Finally, I realize that humility and a mentality of service to people and God is important to me. I notice a difference in the quality of my work when done with ego and without ego, and pray that my work be done in surrender to the divine, without a sense of doer ship.
What clues did my earlier life give me towards my current purpose?
I have always immensely enjoyed problem solving since childhood. Also I enjoyed performing in front of people, whether it was solving math problems in front of class, acting in plays, or performing in a singing competition in college. In tenth grade, I was very happy and proud when a teacher appreciated me and read out a poem and essay I had written in front of the class. I also love playing chess, won the Bombay selection tournament and qualified to play at state level. I realize that all of these things are somehow related to what I think is my purpose now. For example - The love for chess denotes my love to think, to strategize, to employ different tactics to solve problems. Being comfortable in penning down my thoughts in school was a hint that I could later do this relative ease - which I am doing now. Also being in front of people and giving some type of performance came up on multiple occasions in my past, which is what I do now on this page as well. I give these examples from my past not to boast about it, but to give you an idea as to how you can look for clues from your past to search for your life purpose. Your purpose is about doing something that you are good at, and from which you derive a lot of joy.
I highly encourage you to think about your life purpose with the guidelines above, and post it as a comment below this article. Do not focus on making it too perfect - it is better to define something and refine later. Getting clarity of purpose will greatly enhance the quality of your life. It will guide you in making many important decisions as your life unfolds, and will bring your much success, joy and fulfillment.