I’m going to preface this by saying that ultimately I don’t believe in the idea there is one purpose for each of us to fulfil.
I believe that they’re many purposes that each of us can fulfil.
Here are some straightforward questions to ask yourself to help you find purpose in this complex world.
1. Are You Improving?
From experience, no matter what job you’re doing or even hobby, the activity itself gets boring and stagnates if your not improving/ winning.
As a rule of thumb if you’re improving at an occupation/ activity there will be a sense of happiness, achievement and meaning in the doing.
2. Are You Willing To Give Up The Time Necessary To Become Succesful?
Personally, I’ve tried different jobs from, maintenance engineer, all the way to volunteer police officer and personal trainer.
I’ll give the personal trainer example, of how this question plays out.
For personal trainers in the UK, you have to work 12-15 hours per week (no pay whatsoever) which included cleaning down sweaty benches and cleaning up after people who were too lazy to clear up their weights.
Around this, you need to train clients (which I enjoyed) but also acquire new clients and go through the sales process.
While I was getting my business up and running I also worked part-time for dominos delivering pizzas 12 hours per week. So before I even worked on my business, 27 hours of my week were working on things other than my business to keep the money rolling in (bearing in mind the average workweek in the UK is 40 hours).
For me, this was a far cry from having my own business. I envisioned training clients all day and getting the freedom to spend time outside my business doing what I pleased. Instead, I was clearing up after lazy sweaty gym-goers.
Before starting any of this I had to pay for a £1400 pt course which was shocking, to say the least. A handful of books would have provided much more information than a level 3 Pt course.
I say all of this with no disrespect to the gym I worked at, I’m grateful for the opportunity.
But what I’m trying to say is I severely underestimated how much I would have to give up to make it a success.
So I would of my saved myself stress, money and time by weighing up the reality of what I was willing to give up to make the personal training business succeed. In truth, I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice. For me, it’s easier to work for someone else for less stress, more holidays, more money, better routine etc.
That’s not to say I won’t help people get fitter and healthier anymore because I will, it just won’t be in a commercial gym and I can easily help exponentially more people with one article than I can training people individually.
3. What Will It Feel Like To Be The Best At What You Do?
Look at some of the most successful businessmen, athletes, employees etc. You’ll notice that they get the most money, make the most impact, and thoroughly enjoy what they do.
If you become the best at what you do the rewards will come. And purpose will take care of itself.
4. What Do You Enjoy Doing So Much That You Forget To Eat And Sleep?
Marcus Aurelius once said, “When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practising their arts.”
This is the reason why you hear of entrepreneurs working 80-100 hour work weeks, or why Isaac newtons mother had to regularly remind him to eat and drink because he was so absorbed in his work that fundamental things like eating and drinking would pale in comparison to his desire to improve at his work.
5. Are There Clear Signs That You’ll Be A Success?
Whatever occupation you decide to embark on, you’ll only find a sense of purpose if you feel competent. For example, if you start a business, it helps to have a good track record and experience of things like sales, marketing, and or the service/ product you’ll be selling.
It’s slightly less important for a role/ job opening because with adequate training you can get up to speed with the fundamentals of the role and you’ll improve with time if your willing to learn and dedicated to progressing.
The Bottom Line On 5 Questions That Help You Find Your Life’s Purpose
- From the books I’ve read and my own life experience, purpose and meaning come from helping/ serving others, being good at what you do, and generally having a liking for the role.
- 2 books that gave me a much better perspective on this subject were Cal Newports book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.