“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
― Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald
Purpose and Passion, they’re quite often used when thinking about the deeper meaning of life, usually while soul-searching on a random sunday afternoon. Before we discuss these, let’s specifically define these terms:
PURPOSE: noun /ˈpɜː.pəs/ why you do something or why something exists
PASSION: noun /ˈpæʃ.ən/ an extreme interest in or wish for doing something, such as a hobby, activity, etc.:
You’ve heard the saying before: “Follow your passion.”
Following your passion is big. Passion is what really gets you going. Passion is what fuels you.
Passion is what starts the engine.
But passion isn’t everything.
If you are looking to achieve remarkable, fulfilling and phenomenal success, you must have two components: passion and purpose.
What’s the difference?
Passion is your compelling emotions behind your dreams. Your feelings drive your passion.
Purpose is the why behind it all. Purpose is the deep reason for your existence.
Think of it this way: if you wanted to start a campfire with passion and purpose, you’d start with a foundation of wood (your purpose), and start the flame with a match (your passion). You needed both for that fire to start. If the flame went out, you would just re-ignite it with another match (more passion), but if you didn’t build up a good foundation of wood (purpose), your passion would quickly burn itself out on it’s own. The two go hand-in-hand.
Following your passion while living out your purpose is the ultimate life goal.
So… what’s your passion? Are you rewriting your story? What makes you feel happy and fulfilled outside of being a mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister, son or daughter? Have you found it yet?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or older. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you do. As long as you wish to live a more meaningful and conscious life, a life purpose is for you.
Why Have a Life Purpose?
Some people may ask, “Why have a life purpose? Why not just live life as we know it and ignore everything else? Why not chill out and relax until we die?”
Well, here are 5 reasons why I feel every person needs a purpose:
1. Life purpose is the starting point of life
Firstly, let’s face it — the reason you’re here because you see the importance of personal growth… your growth. Deep inside, you are passionate about being your best self and living your best life, and you feel that we can help you achieve that.
Well, a life purpose is the first step toward living a truly conscious life of your creation. While you can be busy with a million goals and tasks every day, when you don’t have a clear purpose (one that you believe in with your heart), you may well be barking up the wrong tree. That’s because your goals and tasks may well have nothing to do with your higher purpose in life, which means that you can pursue your current goals and tasks for 10, 20, 30 years, then realize down the road that… hey, this isn’t what I really want after all. As Stephen Covey once said,
Now, when you define your purpose, a purpose that shakes your heart and stirs your soul, that’s when conscious living begin. That’s because you now know what you stand for and your place in this world. While it doesn’t mean that everything suddenly becomes rosy and all your problems disappear, at least you now have a strong clarity of what you want to drive in this world. This subsequently helps you to set long-term goals that move you in the right direction (towards your purpose), in turn rippling out to your short-term goals, then action plans, then daily actions.
2. Clarity on important vs. unimportant
When you know your purpose, you can instantly differentiate between the important and unimportant. The reality is that most people today are so caught up with a million things that ultimately do not make a difference in their lives. Earn more money! Get a house! Get a second house! Get a car! Get a second car! Get a fleet of cars! With your purpose, you no longer get inundated by these societal goals. You can cut through the BS and get right to the things that truly matter in creating your highest existence.
For example, after I found my purpose, I realized that almost all the goals that I had been working toward, largely due to societal conditioning, were pointless in the grand scheme of things. Rather, what I saw as important was the ability to pursue my purpose: To raise the world’s consciousness and help others to grow. This is what I deem as the most important thing to pursue in the world, even today.
The great thing is that frontloading the work and investing a few months of my life to discover my purpose allowed me to get working on it right away. As opposed to wasting some 20, 30 more years of my life pursuing things that I thought I wanted and needed, I could start paving the path toward my highest life — even if I couldn’t do it right away. I often talk about the 80-20 rule, which is the principle of prioritization where you focus on the 20% big rocks that’ll give you maximum change and fulfillment. However, one can’t know what their 20% big rocks are unless they are clear of what’s truly important to them. This starts from knowing your purpose. When you discover your purpose, you can direct your focus to the real important things. Instead of wasting your time on inconsequential tasks, you can focus on your 20% big rocks. Big rocks that matter not to others, not to the society, not to the world, but… to you.
3. Live a life of direction and meaning
When you pursue your purpose and work on your high-impact goals, you’ll readily see your life lit with direction and meaning. As opposed to wasting your time in a job you don’t love, now you can work toward a career that better fits your purpose. As opposed to being around people who are not compatible with you / your goals, now you can find like-minded people and hang around them instead. As opposed to living a random existence, now you can create your life of highest meaning. And that, in itself, is magic.
4. Constant drive and passion
When you pursue your purpose, you’ll gain this incredible burst of energy that never seems to run out.
The ability to pursue my life purpose fills me up with so much energy, drive, and passion that I’m constantly excited every day. Every morning, I bound out of bed, excited at what I can do and create in this world. At night, I dread going to sleep because I would much rather be living out my purpose than spend 6-8 hours out of commission! It’s as if I have 24/7 access to a well with unlimited energy!
On the other hand, when you aren’t living true to your purpose, days become a drag. Weekdays come and you do what’s needed; weekends approach and you look forward to them. Then the week starts and you wake up to Mondays with resistance and boredom, waiting for weekends to come again. This was actually I experienced in my last months prior to quitting my job to pursue my purpose. While I did everything in my day job with dedication and perfection because that’s simply who I am, I wouldn’t wake up with excitement to get to my task list. In fact, my day job was increasingly painful and unbearable as weeks passed by, because it had no relevance to my life’s message.
If you find yourself looking forward to weekends and vacations as opposed to what you do each day, it’s time to think about whether your work is something you seriously care about, or whether it is simply a means to an end (for financial stability, to support your livelihood, to have the money to buy things you don’t need). What you want is to pursue something of highest meaning to you, and for this to happen, you’ve to first start with, “What is my purpose?” (Which we’ll get to later.)
5. Achieve success (in your terms!)
Many people clamor for success as an end in itself. However, I want to highlight that success is anatural effect of doing what you love (and having clear goals, plans, and skills), vs. something you aim for as an end in itself.
What do I mean? “Talent” isn’t so much something that’s inborn, but something that’s cultivated through time. Whether it takes 10,000 or 20,000 hours of hard work, the point is that everyone starts from somewhere, and it’s through consistent hard work in honing our craft that we then become “talented” in an area.
Now, clocking 10,000 or 20,000 hours of hard work in a domain is no easy feat. If you consider that we’re productive for at most 4-5 hours a day (i.e., not doing admin stuff, not being distracted), that’s about 8.5 years to clock 10,000 hours. 8.5 years! That’s 8.5 years to develop talent, which will subsequently maybe help you to achieve success in your field. Who’d have the energy to turn up for work every day and push through in a field that he/she doesn’t care 100% about for 8.5 years, if not an emotional-less robot? (And robots need to recharge too!)
As opposed to aiming for success as an end for itself, doesn’t it make more sense to first identify what you truly care for, and then to direct your energy to make this a reality? This is where your purpose comes in. When you discover your true purpose, you will naturally want to devote your life to pursuing it, because it’s what gives you the most fulfillment. You will naturally want to spend time doing it even when you don’t have to, because you care. You will naturally get better and better at it, even if you start at 0 skill level, simply because the time you dedicate will give you the experience and necessary skills. Because of that, success becomes imminent. You will excel and soar in whatever you set yourself to do.
How to find it?
If you want to discover your true purpose in life, you must first empty your mind of all the false purposes you’ve been taught (including the idea that you may have no purpose at all).
So how to discover your purpose in life? While there are many ways to do this, some of them fairly involved, here is one of the simplest that anyone can do. The more open you are to this process, and the more you expect it to work, the faster it will work for you. But not being open to it or having doubts about it or thinking it’s an entirely idiotic and meaningless waste of time won’t prevent it from working as long as you stick with it — again, it will just take longer to converge.
Here’s what to do:
- Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster).
- Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
- Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
- Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.
That’s it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a counselor or an engineer or a bodybuilder. To some people this exercise will make perfect sense. To others it will seem utterly stupid. Usually it takes 15-20 minutes to clear your head of all the clutter and the social conditioning about what you think your purpose in life is. The false answers will come from your mind and your memories. But when the true answer finally arrives, it will feel like it’s coming to you from a different source entirely.
For those who are very entrenched in low-awareness living, it will take a lot longer to get all the false answers out, possibly more than an hour. But if you persist, after 100 or 200 or maybe even 500 answers, you’ll be struck by the answer that causes you to surge with emotion, the answer that breaks you. If you’ve never done this, it may very well sound silly to you. So let it seem silly, and do it anyway.
Connectiing Purpose with Passion
Passion gives you the fuel to stay the course, and when it may not seem possible, you do it anyway. People describe that when they are “in the zone” they are able to filter out background noise and it’s easy to get lost in the work and not notice the passage of time. Passion must be channeled as a force for the greater good or else it can be counter-productive.
The four ‘S’s below help assess where you are today and help chart a path towards making a bigger impact.
Struggle: Life is a challenge with significant risks in meeting your needs.
Survival: The role is just for your security and it pays the bills.
Success: The role taps into your talent. Adds personal value by achieving or over achieving goals.
Significance: Creating excellence. Committed to a purpose that is bigger than you and is about impacting others.
Our busyness can get in the way of focusing on what really matters. What have been your best moments in life? You might be able to connect the dots looking back at what gives meaning to your life. Inspiring moments connect you with who you are. Realizing and accepting who you are and being true to who you are can empower you to make your dreams a reality, and reach the highest expression of yourself.