WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?

Patrick Paul L
18 min readMar 22, 2021

The question ‘what is your purpose in life?’ has left many people struggling for years, perhaps decades or even a life time to reach a worthy answer. The world is made up of different categories of people - those who have discovered their purpose a fortiori and are living that purpose and those who just trot along accepting anything offered them by life and are living a sad and uninspiring life.

Hitherto, whether you would be happy in life is directly proportional to the purpose you chose to die for. It was the great Greek philosopher Socrates that enjoined man to discover himself. He knew that without knowing and finding your purpose in life, it would be a waste of your precious time and energy to walk on the face of the earth, which means, it will be difficult to achieve anything worthwhile, and even if you do and get to the pinnacle of your career, you will lack happiness and true fulfillment. So what is the best purpose in life? Suffice to say that, the best purpose is one that focuses on making life better for yourself and others. Ask yourself, what action and task can I embark on that will help someone today? Make that your mission, perhaps, even your reason for living. Ask yourself, how am I going to live and create the tomorrow I have committed to? Know that when you set out to live your purpose, life will create obstacles upon obstacles on your path to test your resolve. That’s why Anthony Robbins once said ‘’I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitments and life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never ending commitment to act until they achieve.

This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating those who makes their dreams a reality from those who live in regret’’.

Although, finding your purpose can be a difficult task, many people never get to find their purpose in a life time, but I assure you that if you do, life can be very very rich in happiness and love. Therefore, what is your purpose in life?, Are you going to make the world a better place by contributing your quota, or you are going to lead to its down fall?

How do you begin to search for your purpose?

Fortunately, if you dig deep enough, before long, your purpose will be made bare. There is an article I read somewhere, but can’t remember the name of the author of the beautiful article. Therefore, I beg to reproduce it. The article shows that if you succeed in finding your purpose, it will be the first step to living the extraordinary life.

DIG MORE DEEPLY

The article is titled dig more deeply, and it reads. ‘’the peanuts is one of the humble products in the granary of nature. But in the hands of scientist such as George Washington Carver, it was revealed to be infinitely rich in all kinds of possibilities. From peanuts he made dozen beverages, mixed pickles, instant and dry coffee, tan remover, wood filler, paper, ink, shaving cream, linoleum, and synthetic rubber. Things are not always what they seem at first. By exploring beneath the surface we often discover that what we judged of little worth really contains hidden treasures waiting to be claimed by man. We have often dismissed life as valueless because we did not probe it deeply enough. In our friends, in our children, in ourselves, lie dormant all kind of strength we little suspect. We need to undertake voyages of discovery to lay bare the hidden continents of life’s possibilities. The recent popularization of such hobbies as paintings and sculpture has startled many of us with the revelation of talent among seemingly ungifted people. In emergencies we have all revealed powers of body and mind of which we were seldom aware. Whoever imagined what stupendous energies lay stored up in a single atom of uranium? There are levels of being whose depths we must seek throughout our lives. He who only lives in the surface enjoy only the outer crust, he who reaches beneath the surface begins to claim his hidden treasures. Have you ever rebelled because you thought your life was too drab? Dig more deeply. Seek it potentialities. By the alchemy of your probing, your life will often turn from grey to gold’’.

This article holds the key to help us to begin to live a life of purpose. We must search for our purpose and come up with an answer to the question ' what is your purpose in life? Unfortunately most of us are stuck in the grind of daily living. Chris Gillebeau said in his book, the Art of Non-Conformity that, ’’if you are stuck in the cage, it’s time to smash the glass around you and crawl your way out. You don’t need anyone’s permission to climb the ladder, and you don’t need to apologize for escaping. If the sleep walking life is the ‘real world’ of the unremarkable average, the better and clear alternative is the living of adventure’’ and again, Martin Luther King Jnr said further, ‘’life’s most persistent and urgent question is this, what are you doing for others? ’’.

Let’s us explore the anecdotes of people who have found satisfaction and happiness by discovering their purpose and doing everything to help humanity.

MalalaYousafai, is a 23 years old Pakistan girl, who was lucky to find her purpose at a tender age. Her purpose is to fight for the right of young Pakistani girls to quality education. She knew that education would bring knowledge and enlightenment to their lives. The Taliban saw this as a threat to their activities and shot her one day as she was returning from school. Like anybody with a mission and zest for living, she survived the Taliban’s bullet in a British hospital. Today, she has received panoply of recognitions from the United Nation and awarded the Nobel peace Prize, which placed her in the same league with the former United States President, Barack Obama and the Late South African President Dr. Nelson Mandela both of whom are past Nobel peace laureate. These days, she goes about mentoring young girls all over the world and fighting for the right of the girl child. Currently, she is at the prestigious Oxford University studying for a degree in Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics.

Another person who was lucky to answer the question ‘ what is your purpose in life’ at a young age is Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager and Time’s Magazine person of the year 2019. The young climate change activist is on a mission to make Governments all over the world comply with the Paris Agreement on climate change to save the World from destruction. Thunberg started a global movement by skipping school in August 2018. She spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish parliament holding a sign that read ‘Skolstrejk for Klimatet’: “School strike for Climate” she quickly attracted attention from World leaders and young people all over the World and the Friday for Future Movement was born, which inspired over 4 million people to join the Global Climate strike on September 20 2019, in what became the largest climate demonstration in history according to Time Magazine report. Addressing World leaders at the World Economic Forum in January 2020 in Davos Switzerland, she told them that ‘Ocean will rise, cities will flood, and millions of people will suffer. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act’. Greta Thunberg knew that if she sustained her campaign she could not fail to attracts attention from world leaders. She succeeded when she was invited to the United Nations to address Head of States and Governments.

Elon Musk to say succinctly has found this purpose. He is the Co-founder and CEO at Tesla, Solar City, Space X and several other companies. His mission is to help save the Earth from Carbon emission by promoting sustainable energy future. And he is using his companies to achieve this purpose. His company Tesla manufactures electric cars which discharges zero emission of carbon to the atmosphere. This has seen Musk manufactures different models of the Electric cars like the Roadstar sports car, Model S Sedan, Model X SUV and the Model 3, as well as the recently manufactured Cyber truck. However, Elon Musk ultimate mission is to create a self sustaining city on Mars.

In 1896, Henry Ford thought of a better and faster way to travel, he became obsessed with this purpose and he succeeded in giving Americans and the world a better way to travel that is better than the horse and buggy. He didn’t stop there, Ford went ahead to produce a cheaper model which ordinary Americans could afford, thereby flooding the Streets of America with its cheaper Model T cars in 1908. His purpose disrupts the world of transportation and made life better for us all.

Thomas Edison spent many hours trying to create the light bulb, after 1000 failures, he gave the world the electric bulb and went ahead to build the electrical systems to power the light bulb. He contributed in no small measures to the Industrial revolution of the United States. Today, we have the light bulbs to light our homes, by just touching a switch, the light comes on.

Thanks to Bill Gates, the world would have been stunted in advancement, without a faster way to manage and organize large data which could have taken days for the human brain to process. He dropped out of Harvard to go pursue his dream- to make computer available on every desk and in every home. He gave the world the operating system used in computers. There is virtually no sector of our lives, which does not use the computer.

LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF MICHAEL JORDAN

Basketball legend Michael Jordan is one individual who has answered the question 'what is your purpose in life?’ he discovered his purpose while in high school. Once he found out that he wanted to be a basketball player, he committed his whole life to the game and became a great basketball player out of that commitment. He won many titles and set records that still stand. He lived and ate basketball and became obsessed with the game. In an interview, he said ‘’ the game of basketball has been everything to me. My place of refuge, a place I have always gone when I needed comfort and peace. It’s been the site of intense pain and intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. It’s a relationship that has evolved over time, given me the greater respect and love for the game.’’ You could say Jordan was born with a special talent to play basketball, there is no disputing that fact, but he did train and work on his talent every day Even though he knew he has a special aptitude for the game, he subjected himself to the rudiment of the game; he had to learn the basics. Hear what he said about this ‘’when I was young, I had to learn the fundamentals of basketball. You can have all the physical ability in the world, but still have to know the fundamentals.’’ Most people get side tracked and derailed from their goals and lose focus when they don’t see results from their effort. When this happens, they stop giving their best and try to play the system. Michael Jordan, indubitably the best basketball player that has ever played the game gave this piece of advice succinctly to those who think they can take short cut in life. He said ‘’be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then, the games will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That is truly about the game and in some ways about life too.’’

As you read this, resist the fear of failure, try to dig deep and come out with ways to contribute your own quota to the world. Be aware that all progress resulted from people who took unpopular positions and refuse to conform to what society sets as the right standard. There are no standards, the only standard is the one you set and recognize in your mind. The key then is to think big, and go out to do your best. It’s never too late to do anything you want to do; you never know what you can accomplish until you try. Note here that, you don’t have to do bigger things like the people listed above, doing small things in your own corner of the world to make someone happy even if they are your spouse, brother, children, neighbors, coworkers and church members, is all you need to find and fulfill you purpose. Do little but silent deeds every day and make it a habit to give your best to your employer, employees and anybody you come across whom looks like they will do with some help.

So therefore, whatever you find to serve life, do it with all your might. If you can be diligent in doing it, life will reward you out of your labor. Benjamin Franklin said ‘’diligence is the mother of good luck’

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION

When you align yourself with your passion, it can ignite the human spirit to do greater things. It can also help you overcome the fear of failure and surmount undaunted obstacles in your life.

Doubts and anxieties are two hindrances to progress in life. To be successful, your passion for what you do must be greater than your doubts and anxieties. When your WHY is big enough, the HOW must take care of itself. When you overcome doubt and anxiety, it is replaced by unwavering confidence. And being confident can help you in many areas in life. It means you can take that risk despite your fears, and the uncertainty that comes from doubt eliminated.

Confident people don’t shrink from challenges; they know that if they fail, they can come back stronger, because they will learn from the experiences that come with the failure. Talking about experience Charlie ‘’Tremendous’’ Jones said ‘’in the beginning of life, God gives everybody an imaginary key ring. Every time a person exposes himself to another situation, they get another key of experience for their key ring. Soon, the key ring begins to fill with thousands and millions of key of experience. They get to use the same keys over and over again. The law of exposure to experience gets better with the years. Finally, a person gets to know which key unlock which door, while the inexperienced don’t know if they have a key. All they can do is fumble around and hope to add another key of experience to their key ring’’. So don’t be afraid to fail and garner experience, because each time you do, you are boosting your portfolio of experiences in your key ring.

A strong passion can help you make your life a masterpiece, fulfill your purpose and live a life of happiness. Mark Cuban is a member of the prestigious Forbes billionaire club and owner of the Dallas Maverick. He told James Altucher when he appeared as a guest on his podcast that, when he started he had a passion to be a billionaire and among other things, he had a strong passion for Basketball. He graduated from Indiana University and took a job as bartender in Dallas, while at the same time working as a salesperson at a PC retailer. He was fired in less than a year, when instead of opening the retail shop, he opted to meet a client about a new business. After he was fired he realized he liked being in charge, this led him to become an entrepreneur. He opened his first business called Micro Solutions which he sold some years later to CompuServe for $16 million. His love for basketball led him to start audionet.com with a college friend, so that he can watch his favorite team the Dallas Mavericks on line. It eventually changed to broadcast.com, and stream live sporting events on the internet.

Mark achieved his fondest passion to be a billionaire when broadcast.com was acquired by Yahoo Inc. for $5.7 billion. He used part of that money to buy his favorite NBA team, the Dallas Maverick for $285 million. Mark continues to be passionate and encourage young people to live their best lives. As a member of the ABC hit show, Shark Tank, he has invested in many startups with innovative ideas.

Linda Ikeji is a Nigerian multimillionaire blogger, who opened the gateway of online publishing to Nigerians. Her foray into the online media space began when many Nigerians are yet to be aware of the term blogging. Her passion to give out news and entertainment in real time helped her through thick and thin, at a time when making money from blogging was not even envisaged.

She perseveres, and today blogging is her preferred choice of livelihood. What started for her as a passion has led her to fame and wealth. She is a great influencer and a mentor to many in the African continent and beyond who in one way or the other are struggling to answer the ultimate question 'what is your purpose in life?’

Farah Gray is a young African American business man, who grew up in the inner city of Chicago. He grew up accustomed to days when the only thing in their refrigerator was the light that came on when you open the refrigerator. He got his start and began his entrepreneurial, personal and civic development as a young person at age six, selling homemade body lotion and his own hand painted rock. He grew from there to have his own prepaid phone cards, and became a media figure with his own syndicated radio talk show called ‘Youth AM FM’ where he talked about issues related to youth entrepreneurship. He defied all odds and albatross to become history’s youngest self made millionaire. He was the youngest person to have an office on Wall Street and also the youngest to receive an honorary doctorate degree. He is an inspiration to many and also an international bestselling author. Gray only had a strong passion to climb out of poverty when he started; this forced him to be creative. Today, he has touched many lives all over the world through his stories and his dominant message to the youth. Which is this ‘’in the spirit of the third world entrepreneur, you have to create your own job. You can’t wait to rely on Exxon or Wal-Mart to hire you. And that is the spirit I tried to teach to young entrepreneurs.’’ He said. His foundation, gives seed capital to many young founders to start their own businesses. He tells young people who believe their conditions are caused by a lack of Godfather and money to shelve that attitude and go out to be creative. ‘’You know you don’t have to have money to be a successful business person. You don’t need a college degree. You just need a lot of common sense backed up by a willingness to work hard’’ says Gray. Maybe this advice from Will Smith will help all those who still have doubts in their hearts. ‘’Make a choice and decide what you are going to be, how you are going to be, and how you are going to do it. From that point the universe will move out of your way’’. Above all he teaches young people to answer the question 'what is your purpose in life?’ before they get enshrined in the loop of mediocrity.

KNOW WHAT INSPIRES YOU

Sometimes, the difference between the person who succeeds and the one who fails is their ability to stay inspired and motivated. So also, the embers of the flame of motivation in most people are short-lived. Just as we are all different so are the ways in which we can find inspiration. Some people find inspiration by doing what they love, others find inspiration by reading a book, yet some others are inspired by listening to their favorite preacher, as well as visiting places and meeting people. If you can find what inspires you and absorb yourself in it, and you become obsessed with the object of your inspiration while focusing on a problem you would want to solve, as well as a passion you want to explore, such as starting a business, travelling round the world, expressing your love for someone or simply being grateful to life, you are pushing out the fears that can hinder your creativity from soaring high. When you are inspired, fear has no place in your being because your creative abilities are released. When this happens your creativity begins to work on all cylinders, from there, you can generate the ideas to live an abundant life, produce the greatest piece of art, write a great book, win the love of your life, start a great company, and come up with a great innovation. Therefore, if you know your purpose and with passion focus on the things that inspires you, you can change your life and be extraordinary.

TAP INTO YOUR CREATIVE POTENTIALS

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary defines potential as the power or quality which exists and can be developed. Many people live mediocre lives not because they have no potentials, but because they would not develop their potentials. Developing your potential can be a herculean task, because most of the God given abilities has become stale and atrophied from disuse. Thereby making many to be too comfortable in their comfort zone of mediocrity, this makes it a daunting task to escape. That’s why majority of the people find their gift during times of adversity, because they are forced to reach inside their reservoir of strength to survive. In doing so most people find that they have special talents lurking inside. Others find this potential after been locked in solitary confinement; an example is John Bunyan who wrote the Pilgrims progress in his cell.

Also, apart from Individuals, many nations of the world have succeeded in developing their creative potentials and improving the life of its citizens. Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew shed its toga of a weak social cultural nation to become one of the economical developed countries of the world. Lee Kuan Yew was able to tap into the potentials of the once economic dependent nation and turn it on the path to greatness. Similarly, Mahathir Mohammed former prime Minister of Malaysia changed the fortune of a little known country and made it one of the world leading business destinations and the largest producer of palm oil in the world. What do these men have in common; they braced the odds to make their respective countries great. These countries were little known until their leaders emerged, who of course were themselves gifted at developing potentials. They looked inward and brought out the dormant qualities of their respective countries and changed the course of their history. 98% of people live dormant lives and a below par existence, because they won’t put in the time to develop their potentials. The 2% who do are great achievers in business, sports, literature and the academia. Those who dare to develop their potentials are living the awesome lives. Yes, many people are really gifted in sport, business and music, if you take a close scrutiny of their lives, you would find that they worked more than the rest of their peers. That is why they are stars. Warren Buffet, recognized the world over as the best investor that has walked the face of the earth is regarded as a genius. In an interview, Charlie Munger, Buffet’s right-hand man and Vice president at Berkshire Hathaway reveals that Warren Buffet is not content to rest on laurels. ‘’He is continuously dedicated to learning and gaining greater knowledge. He is one of the best learning machines on earth. The turtle who out run the hare are learning machines. If you stop learning in this world, the world rushes right by you. Warren was lucky that he could still learn effectively and build his skills, even after he reached retirement age.’’ Munger went on to say, ‘’having watched the whole process with Warren. I can report that if he had stopped with what he knew at earlier points, the record would be a pale shadow of what it is’’. Putting it simply Warren Buffet has continually dedicated himself to refining and expanding his understanding of investing.

Even if you are gifted, it is not a guarantee that you will excel in your chosen field. Life is a game where you keep practicing to stay relevant, because in reality, talent is never enough, if you want to be the best. According to John C Maxwell, author of the book ‘’Talent is Not Enough,’’ he says ‘’one of the paradoxes of life is that the things that initially make you successful are rarely the things that keep you successful’’. Anybody can develop their potential if they try hard enough. Winston Churchill knows this, when he said ‘’continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential’’. Whether you will live an awesome and extraordinary life or not, start with answering the question ‘what is your purpose in life?’, and developing your potentials.

So far, we have talked about finding your purpose, exploring your passion and tapping into your creative abilities. Note here that no one goes to the Airport and buys a ticket without a known destination. You must have a goal, mission and must have made necessary preparations before going to buy a ticket to a known destination. If you find your purpose what you need now is to identify a goal, then go out and practice earnestly. If you do, you would have succeeded in solving this puzzle and answered the question ‘what is your purpose in life?’, before long, you will shone like a thousand stars and it will lead you to greatness.

GROW EVERYDAY

To sustain the impact gained from answering the question 'what is your purpose in life?’ you have to learn to keep your knowledge cup empty; everyday should be an opportunity for learning, if you start it with your cup full of knowledge, there won’t be any room for new information to come in. Commit yourself to learning new things every day by keeping your mind and heart open for new ideas, new friendship and new opportunity to be better than you were yesterday. Read something that can expand the capacity of your mind and broaden your context. Practice the art of being grateful and stay humble always. If you do this, you will have develop the abilities to help you meet life’s challenges.

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Patrick Paul L

I am a self-help and productivity blogger and a student of life. visit my website www.trepscript101.com