The most common factor I find causing distress and overall unhappiness for people in today’s modern society is a lack of purpose. So what do I mean by purpose? When talking about purpose I’m referring to life purpose. Life purpose is putting into action the things that are not only meaningful to you, but to others as well.
For those of you reading my blog and/or receiving my newsletter this post about life purpose is a sneak peak into my next book coming out in early April 2019, The Simple Life Guide To Decluttering Your Life: The How-To Book of Doing More With Less and Focusing on the Things That Matter. I’ll be looking for an additional 25 advanced readers to add to my team for this book. If you are on the list don’t worry, you don’t have to ask to be on the list. I’ll be posting the information how to get on the list in a couple weeks, but if you just can’t wait fill out my contact form Click HERE. Please make sure to give me your full name and email address. I’m doing away with sending print copies, so only digital, make sure to tell me your preferred format PDF, Kindle or ePub.
I wish I had the magic sauce when it comes to determining purpose, but I don’t. Finding your purpose is highly individualistic, as there are many factors that must be considered such as:
- What are you passionate about?
- What’s your living situation—married, single, kids or a caregiver?
- Why are you doing what you’re doing?
- Where are you at in your life right now?
- What are your current and future goals?
The primary point to realize while trying to find your purpose is that it’s not static. In fact, for most it will be a moving target. And very rarely does someone come into this world immediately knowing his or her purpose.
Finding your purpose is done with action—by doing things and by experiencing life and the world. For some, it’s being the best mother or father they can be. For others, like Elon Musk, it’s being one of the most innovative people in our lifetime. When it comes to purpose there’s no right or wrong answer, but I’ve found for people to truly be happy and fulfilled it’s the one thing that must be found.
Just like many others, I floundered early on in my life trying to find my purpose. I always knew it was helping people in some shape or form, so that’s how I ended up in the military, law enforcement, health, and teaching. But trust me, I’m no life clairvoyant. My purpose has changed and evolved as time has gone by, but it’s always been firmly rooted in helping others through my experiences and knowledge. When I first started out as an entrepreneur two decades ago, I would have been shocked if someone had told me my purpose today would be primarily as a self-help author!
A big lesson I’ve learned in life is that purpose can’t be forced, it has to be found organically. For some this comes early in life, for some much later. Your life experiences are going to create and shape your purpose. For example, a friend of mine started out in the stressful world of consulting for technological companies, but he soon found this to be unfulfilling. During this time he was volunteering and working with underprivileged children on the side, and this is where he found his purpose. He left his high-paying job to work for a non-profit helping underprivileged children and never looked back.
Another friend of mine spent a large part of his life in the military special forces. Now retired, he spends a great deal of time working with severely injured veterans and their families. I’m not saying he didn’t have purpose in the military, but once he left it shifted into something a little different, but still related to his prior primary purpose.
As humans, we’re all truly interconnected. It’s not one large act that makes the difference, but many small acts of passion and love for others that bring about change for the better. When it comes to purpose, it’s not about collecting items (as we’re often taught today), it’s about action. That’s why The Simple Life Principle 5: Take Action Today and Every Day is so important.
You’re not going to find your purpose in a shopping mall, by owning a mansion filled with expensive items, or by playing video games (playing video games for a living, sorry, is not a purpose). Purpose is not found in self-absorbed actions or motives. Purpose is found in the greater good—making a difference, no matter how small that difference may be.
As humans, we’ve evolved into something foreign in relationship to our DNA and past. Humans are tribal and are nurturing by nature, meaning we’ve historically relied upon each other for survival. We did this by being a part of small groups (usually less than 50 people), where our primary purpose was providing the things we were good at in order to enhance survival and the ability to thrive in this group or tribe. Your purpose in the past may have been to be a hunter to provide the necessary food, or to provide medicine as a healer. It was also possible to have more than one purpose or sub-purpose.
One thing that was not, and would not be, accepted by our nomadic tribal ancestors was selfishness and hoarding of any sort of resource. The emphasis of the individual, and of consumerism, is something very new to the human species. You may now see why so many struggle to find their purpose in today’s society, as it’s hard to find your purpose when you’re primarily focused on only yourself. I believe if this type of behavior was allowed in our past tribal lifestyle, we wouldn’t be here today. That famous saying “it takes a village” comes to mind when thinking about the evolution and progress of humans.
Anthropologist Richard Lee noted in 1968 when studying the Kung people of the Kalahari Desert (northern Namibia and southern Angola) who were still living the hunter-gatherer lifestyle at this time:
“The members move out each day to hunt and gather, and return in the evening to pool the collected foods in such a way that every person present receives an equitable share… Because of the strong emphasis on sharing, and frequency of movement, surplus accumulation… is kept to a minimum.”
The above shows that we have traditionally had purpose and belonged to a community, and would not collect unnecessary items just for the sake of having more things.
What I’ve found while working at being more self-reliant, and belonging to a like-minded group, is that it’s about going back to a more primitive lifestyle and being part of a much smaller community. In a way, we consider the way we live to be a tribe—much more communal and focused on helping each other than most types of groups.
You might find that some of your current relationships can be detrimental to you finding your purpose, as can worrying about what other people think. I’ve found this to be incredibly true in the area of health. Once someone sets out on their journey to be healthier, family or friends can sometimes try to sabotage or dissuade him or her from pursuing this goal. I’ve seen it time and time again while working with clients. For you to find your purpose, you might have to ignore what other people think and say. After all, this is your purpose in life, not theirs.
After leaving the government, starting my primal health business, and transitioning to a simpler life, my friends and family thought I was nuts. A couple of friends actually pulled me aside and asked me if I was OK. Others flat-out made fun of me and what I was trying to accomplish in pursuit of my life purpose. If I had let what they were saying influence my decisions at that time, you wouldn’t be reading these words today.
Here’s the amazing thing about living a simpler, more altruistic life: Either you’ll find your purpose or your purpose will find you. But here are a couple of questions I’ll leave you with in order to help those who are struggling to find their purpose:
If you could do anything that didn’t require you to make money, what would that be?
When you die, what do want to be remembered for? (I’m pretty sure it’s not having the most friends on Facebook!)
Being a realist, I have to admit that having a purpose alone is not going to pay the bills or feed your family. In today’s society we need to have a balance between having purpose and supplying our minimal survival needs. With that being said, I think most people can weave their purpose into their primary source of income. I know this firsthand because I’ve done it myself and have taught many others to do the same.
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