This Is How to *Actually* Find 'Your Purpose'

Tim Denning

Because this topic is full of advice that belongs in the dumpster.

Image credit: unsplash

“Find your purpose,” says the self-help guru.

No worries Duck Dodgers. Looking for your passion and being obsessed with finding it can waste so much of your precious time.

I looked for my passion everywhere. It was right in front of me for my whole life. I danced around her until our lips touched at midnight. Okay, not really. Would have been a nice fairytale though.

Your purpose isn’t so hard to find.

‘Purpose’ for normies.

What is your mission for this year? Why a year? Thinking too long-term generates extreme anxiety. A bus with your name on it could run you down, accidentally, tomorrow.

A normal version of passion you can actually follow focuses on a lighter description. What are you going to focus on?

The focus is found at the intersection of what you like doing, what has a slight impact outside of yourself, and possibly, what might help you earn a living.

Purpose is your reason to wake up. It can be simple as “my purpose to wake up today is to write for people who need a laugh.” What’s wrong with that, huh?

Why does everything in the topic of purpose have to sound like the monologue to a Marvel movie involving saving the world.

Grandiose is too hard to explain to yourself. Grandiose is too hard to follow.

Your purpose is whatever the hell you want.

Seriously, it’s that easy.

A purpose can be looking after your kids. A purpose can be writing for the heck of it. A purpose can be to make good art. A purpose can be to run 5 miles a week. A purpose can be to help people get jobs at your employer for the sheer fun of it.

What if I said your purpose was shits and giggles? The problem with purpose is you take it too seriously. You build it up your purpose to become the next Noah’s Ark with a hand-built boat full of zoo animals.

Noah was a simple dude. He liked building boats in his backyard. Wait…that’s the Jim Carrey version. But you get my point.

Purpose = What meaning are you going to attach to today?

A purpose can screw up the first step.

I sent a survey to my email list. Many of my subscribers consider writing to be their purpose. The email was about “getting started” as a writer. It was literally three screenshots: go to this web address, create a login, click the big green write button.

I couldn’t believe how many people followed through. I thought the first step of their collective purpose was obvious, and it was.

But when you put too much pressure on yourself to come up with this thunder whopping, almighty purpose, it all gets too hard. You never take the first step. Because a huge purpose distorts the size of the first step. Distorted first steps ain’t going to happen.

You will have many purposes in life.

Having one purpose in life is highly, highly, highly unlikely.

Life has many purposes. Why the heck do you need to choose one? Why not try them all?

My purpose as a teenager was to entertain the internet with electronic music. My purpose as a 21 year old was to sell stuff online to people and have it delivered to their door. My purpose as a mid-20s gentleman was to find a woman. My purpose as a late 20s, misguided adult, was to learn the corporate game. My purpose as an early 30s creative individual was to write for others. My purpose right now is to finish writing this story so I can hang out with my girlfriend. Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe my purpose will be to become a primary school teacher.

The possibility of multiple purposes is what makes life interesting.

The one-purpose life is missing variety.

Purpose is what you tell yourself it is.

Good news: The easiest person to fool is yourself.

Don’t fool yourself. Simply tell yourself what your purpose is going to be for now. I tell myself that today’s purpose is to write. It will be true until I decide to stop telling myself that. The same is true for you.

If you tell yourself what you want enough times, your brain will give up resisting and just get to work.

You are your resistance. Your self-talk is the jackhammer to break through.

How to Find Your Purpose Without Yoda

Make it simple

Simple you can do.

Let your purpose evolve

The chosen meaning for waking up today can evolve. Start somewhere, anywhere. See what feels meaningful to you.

Experiment like Einstein

What’s it going to be today? Stack up the experiments. See what gives you meaning and what doesn’t. Iterate. Imagine. Be curious.

Make one purpose bigger than yourself

The joy of a non-self-centered purpose is worth trying. “Volunteer at s homeless shelter” sounds like cliche purpose advice. Try it. Pinky promise?

Don’t get romantic about it

You know a purpose many people have, and forget easily? Their family.

Being a mother or a father is one of the greatest purposes in the world. Yet, parenting is made out by self-help books to be not big enough.

Unless you can become the Michael Jordan of your field then it’s not your purpose, the purpose-pushers say. Well, Michael Jordan became a bitter, twisted old man. That’s where a grandiose purpose can lead you.

You can end up treating everybody as though they are a competitor to your purpose, and acting like an Air Jordan a-hole.

The No BS Real Question

All the ‘find your purpose’ self-help category should be nuked.

Replace find your purpose with what meaningful work am I going to do this year, this month, or…today?

You decide your purpose. Not the mythical universe or a self-help guru. You know more about your purpose than you realize. Because you’re smart enough to know what gives you meaning and what doesn’t.

Micro-doses of meaning outweigh lifelong fantasies of finding a purpose. Find today’s meaningful work. Then tomorrows. Step by step.

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Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship


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