By Brian Dean
Something motivates you to get up each day. That something says a good deal about your current central purpose in life. If you eventually get out of bed because you don’t want to be sacked from your job, then your purpose has to do with money and security. If you get up because of what people might think if you didn’t, then you are motivated by a fear of disapproval.
A person’s life is already an expression of their purpose, whether this purpose operates consciously or subconsciously. If you are driven by a purpose you’re not conscious of, then it’s likely to have roots in fear. Motivation of this kind is usually conditioned into us, whether we like it or not.
Some people don’t believe in purpose – “just get on with life”, “take things as they come” – these are common phrases, yet they are also clear descriptions of purpose masquerading as lack of purpose. The unspoken purpose here is continued physical survival. Basic survival and social conformity are common motivations, but why limit yourself to mundane, inferior soap-opera scenarios when you can reach for the stars?
You don’t need permission to decide your own purpose. No boss, teacher, parent, priest or other authority can decide this for you. Purpose has nothing to do with sacrifice, getting approval, being ‘selfless’ or conforming to somebody else’s idea of the correct way to live. It doesn’t mean giving up something you like for something more ‘worthy’. Your purpose is derived from what you most value. It pays, therefore, to resolve conflicting values so that you avoid being a slave to someone else’s purpose.
Purpose is not achievement. For example, achievement can mean being successful at a job you don’t want, to enable you to afford an expensive car you don’t need, in order to impress a girlfriend you don’t like… A purpose is something you express continually in order to bring you pleasure, not a list of things you have to achieve.
This technique allows you to identify your purpose by bypassing the conditioned thought associations relating to ‘permission’ and ‘disapproval’ syndromes:
1. Identify what you like about yourself.
2. Identify how you most like spending your time.
3. Imagine your idea of a perfect world.
Your purpose is what links these three things together. In other words, it is the way you can use your favorite characteristics, abilities and attributes in activities you like best, to manifest your vision of a perfect world. Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of this technique.
Acknowledgement: We highly recommend the book Vivation by Jim Leonard and Phil Laut for further exploring these ideas.
“I would like to have been a doctor, so I could have served people better”
–Cary Grant (paraphrased), in ironic mood.
“However unhappy a person may be, the moment he knows the purpose of his life a switch is turned and the light is on… If he has to strive after that purpose all his life, he does not mind so long as he knows what the purpose is.
“Ten such people have much greater power than a thousand people working from morning till evening not knowing the purpose of their life.”
– H.I. Khan