That ONE question that people ask when we are 5 and then when we are 16 and then at 18 and again at 22 and so on. That ONE question which haunts us forever.
“WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE?”
I am sure everybody has faced this question at some point of their life and have struggled to find the right answer for this. Every day we ask ourselves this question to find what exactly we are doing on this planet? Are we really utilizing our time and the resources provided to us? Are we really making any difference in the world?
It’s difficult. I know. To find that one true calling, to find that ONE thing we are supposed to do that would take the world by storm! All this seems motivational but the real problem is how do we find out what we really want to do? What we are really passionate about?
But here are some questions to help you find your passion:
1. What would be your favorite kind of failure?
Yes you read it right! Here’s the little truth about life that you will learn in some way or the other, Everything is awful, some of the time. This probably sounds pessimistic, b ut it has hidden meaning. Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time. So the question becomes: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable rotten days.
So ask yourself what unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? Are you able to stay up all night coding? Are you able to have people laugh you off the stage over and over again until you get it right? Are able to forget everything and try to excel at a sport?
Failure is inevitable. So you might as well choose your favorite one.
2. What makes you forget everything?
We’ve all had that experience where we get so wrapped up in something that minutes turn into hours and hours turn into “Oh, I forgot to have dinner!”
It can be anything. Maybe for you, it’s organizing things efficiently, or getting lost in a fantasy world, or teaching somebody something. Whatever it is, don’t just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you. Because they can easily be applied elsewhere.
3. How can you better embarrass yourself?
Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first be awful at something and have no clue what you’re doing. And in order to do that, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly.
It all comes to vulnerability.
Right now, there’s something you want to do, something you think about doing, something you fantasize about doing, yet you don’t do it. You have your reasons, no doubt. And you repeat these reasons to yourself each day.
But what are those reasons? Because I can tell you right now that if those reasons are based on what others would think, then you’re screwing yourself over big time!
Living a life avoiding embarrassment is akin to living a life with your head in the sand. Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful.
4. How are you going to save the world?
The world is full of problems! We rant about them day in and day out but what are WE really doing about it? Pick a problem and start saving the world. There are plenty to choose from. Our screwed up education system, economic development, domestic violence, mental health care, governmental corruption.
Find a problem you care about and start solving it. Obviously, you’re not going to fix the world’s problems by yourself. But you can contribute and make a difference. And that feeling of making a difference is ultimately what’s most important for your own happiness and fulfillment.
You are a superhero, just find your cause!
5. Where will you like to spend your day?
For many of us, the enemy is just old-fashioned complacency. We get into our routines. We distract ourselves. The couch is comfortable. The snacks are crispy. And nothing new happens. This is a problem.
What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.
Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.
So ask yourself, if someone put a gun to your head and forced you to leave your house every day for everything except for sleep, how would you choose to occupy yourself? And yes, let’s pretend there are no useless websites, no video games, no TV. You have to be outside of the house all day every day until it’s time to go to bed- where would you go and what would you do?
If it strikes your fancy, write down a few answers and then, you know, go out and actually do them.
6. What would you do if you knew you were going to die one year from today?
Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting.
What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? If not, what would you like it to say? How can you start working towards that today?
And again, if you fantasize about your obituary saying a bunch of badass things that impresses a bunch of random other people, then again, you’re failing here.
This really causes people to think about their lives in a different way and re-evaluate what their priorities are. Because of course you don’t want your headstone to be read as: “Here lies (say your name). He watched every episode of ‘Game of Thrones’… twice.”
Discovering your “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. And to find them you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself!