Thought Catalog

10 Dumb Mistakes Smart People Make When Trying To Find Their Purpose

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Twenty20 / robinbobin
Twenty20 / robinbobin

Why is it so damn hard to figure out your purpose in life? You would think a world filled with options and opportunity would excite you. But sometimes having too many options can paralyze you.

You might think to yourself:

What if I make the wrong choices and waste a bunch of time?

I want better for myself, but I just don’t know where to start.

I know what I want, but I’ll get started and end up quitting like I always do.

You want a better life, but fear and uncertainty keep holding you back. When you try to change your circumstances it seems like climbing a mountain.

Here are the mistakes you might be making when trying to find your purpose in life.

You Focus On Passion

“Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” *Barf* The focus on passion permeates our society. Common thinking leads you to believe passion comes first and success comes later. Wrong.

You want to know how to find passion? Get good at something. Take your natural talents and strengths and build on them. Competence spurs passion. Passion doesn’t come first.

You Set Goal(s)

Success gurus across the globe tell you to bust out the ol’ pen and paper and write down every single little goal you can think of (I’ve been guilty of saying this). This is a great way to accomplish nothing.

Set one goal. Set a time frame to complete it. Once you reach your goal you can move onto something else. Setting a bunch of goals spreads you too thin and keeps you from focusing.

You’re Patient

When it comes to getting started. You spend too much time planning and analyzing. You never take action. Once you do get started, your patience quickly turns to impatience. You get frustrated early on and quit.

Practice patience after you find something worth committing to. Waiting on a sign to get started is stupid.

You Use Positive Thinking

As a substitute for actual work. You watched “The Secret,” and now you believe you can manifest anything with your thoughts. Positive thinking works when combined with diligent and deliberate effort. Your morning affirmations will not magically make you more purposeful.

You Don’t Keep A Journal

I’m not sure why, but there’s something about physically writing things down that makes you more creative, motivated, and productive. Many of the world’s most successful people have  a journal or commonplace book. To write down your ideas, your hopes and dreams, the things that inspire you.

Keep a journal for six months and your life will be ten times better. Just trust me on this one.

You’re Grateful

Sort of. You don’t have a deep and profound sense of gratitude. You’re grateful that you aren’t homeless. You’re grateful that you have food to eat. As you should be, but don’t hide behind gratitude to rationalize the fact you’re not working towards living out your purpose.

You’re Optimistic

In the short run. But when things get tough you get a tummy ache and quit. Maybe a little bit of pessimism would serve you well. For instance, instead of being blindly optimistic about your business or project, run a premortem to point out weak spots and correct them before you launch.

You need optimism in the long run, but you must be mindful of the obstacles you’ll face a long the way. Trust me, they’re coming. Over optimism puts you at risk of being unable to get up after you get knocked down.

You Copy The Habits Of Successful People

Mistakenly believing the routines themselves make then successful. You read blog a post that says 83% percent of CEOs wake up at 5 a.m. so you believe that waking up early is the key to success. Routines and habits are a must, but they must be built around your personality and preferences. Don’t force yourself to be a morning person if you’re not one. Figure out the time of day when you do your best work and do it at that time. Experiment with your routine until it fits.

You Think You’re Smart

And you are. But maybe you’re too smart for your own good. Smart people can be overconfident. Smart people can get drunk on their own ideas. Smart people try to reinvent the wheel when it’s unnecessary. Smart people try to hard too be original instead of making an impact. It’s okay to be smart, just don’t let it blind you from what needs to be learned and what needs to be done.

You Believe In Mistakes

That’s why you read this post in the first place. Because you’re afraid of doing the wrong thing. Because you’re worried about looking foolish.

Don’t worry about making mistakes. Worry about doing something that matters. Here’s what’s going to happen when you make the decision to work towards living out your purpose.

  • It will be a little scary at first, but if you stick with it you’ll start to enjoy yourself.
  • You’ll start to feel passionate because you’re finally doing what you want to do instead of just talking about it.
  • You’ll hit the dip — the moment where you’re ready to quit but you’re inches away from succeeding. If you make it through the dip, you become a champion.

You’re never going to have it all figured out. But with time you’ll come closer to doing what you were put on this earth to do. Finding your purpose in life takes a lot of self-awareness and experimentation. The most important part is to get started.

I’m begging you to get started. Make today your day. You owe it to yourself. As cliché as it sounds you only have one life to live. I want you to live it well. I want you to live knowing you’re serving a purpose higher than your own needs. I want you to know what it feels like to toss and turn all night because you’re bursting with excitement about your plans for the future.

I know you can do it. I’m not just saying that either. I know you can do it because of the amazing things seemingly average people have done in the span of human history — when they believed in themselves, when they stopped worrying about what other people thought of them, when they felt fear but pressed forward anyways.

Deep down you know you can do it too. The question is — will you? TC mark

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