Purpose in Life – Part 1
Our recent Drink & Think Soiree attendees were asked which of twenty-six subjects they most wanted to hear about in The Daily Paradox. They could opt for as many as they liked. Well ahead of all the other subjects chosen was Purpose in Life. This has always been important, of course. For reasons we don’t fully understand, it has become even more critical to everyone since the pandemic upset our rhythm of working and our attitude to jobs and fulfilment.
We do not seem to be born with purposes, other than to survive and procreate, so why is it important to establish a purpose specifically for ourselves? Life is full of interest, there are lots of things to do. We can probably find work and play to keep us busy and entertained without having a purpose. So why should we go searching for one?
John Steinbeck expressed it perfectly in Chapter 13 of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ – a moving book about the migration from the Midwest of America to the Coast during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He says “The last, clear definition of mankind, muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need”. Humankind’s purpose is beautifully caught by the words “…create beyond the single need”. Our own survival and enjoyment is a basic priority for each of us. Our fulfilment always involves others ‘beyond the single need’.
Life is spoken of as a journey. At present that lasts about one hundred years. In time to come it may be longer, even possibly infinite, depending on how we decide the species should develop. A journey without a destination is rather pointless. And a destination is a purpose. The interesting thing about a life purpose or destination is that it is more important to know you have it than to achieve it. To know where you are going presupposes that you want to get there, certainly, but as anyone used to travelling understands, the journey itself is fulfilling whether you actually make it to the end or not.
Purpose does something else for you. There is lots of evidence to show that having a purpose keeps you healthier for longer. You may not start out with a passion for anything useful. Once you have a purpose it becomes a passion – a reason for living, an incentive to succeed. Will your purpose always remain the same? Not at all. Opportunities, accidents, developments, necessities can all change your purpose any time.
My purpose to be a farmer changed when I had a bad farming accident at the age of nineteen and could no longer lift heavy weights. My decision that if I couldn’t be a country boy I would become a city boy was probably the most sensible I ever made. But it meant changing my purpose fundamentally. That’s how I became interested in the importance of purpose.
That interest has persisted all my life and when we started Terrific Mentors International my colleagues and I devised a way of discovering our purpose. It involved learning deeply about who you are and matching that with your skills and other skills you could acquire.
Since so many are interested in this subject, I will use the next Daily Paradox to explain how it works. Meanwhile it would be a great idea if you could have a view about your own purpose.
When you find it, you become a very fulfilled person.
Tomorrow’s Daily Paradox tells you more about how finding your purpose works.
28 September 2023