“He who has a why can endure any how.”
– Frederick Nietzsche
It was 2:50 am when he let out his first cries – two short, shrill blasts from lungs taking their first breath. My son was finally here and I had to be his hero. The happiest moment of my life was also the most terrifying, and oddly enlightening. I knew the purpose I’d been pursuing was definitely right.
Living without a purpose sucks. Boredom, exhaustion, and depression are all signs that you’re existing instead of living for a reason.
You’re doing the wrong work if you aren’t proud and excited (at least some of the time). If you aren’t willing to sacrifice for your projects, then you shouldn’t be wasting your time.
That brings us to the questions… How do you find the right thing? How do you find your purpose? What’s your reason why?
Everyone says follow your passion.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
– Nelson Mandela
“Follow your passion” is old advice, and it doesn’t always work.
You won’t make a dime playing video games or reading books. You need to monetize your passions if you want to live on them. Teaching is a great way to monetize non-profitable passions. Share what you know.
Gamers can learn design skills and start writing beautiful guides to sell, book nerds can start a book summary YouTube channel. You have options, get creative.
Otherwise, if you have a sell-able passion, sell it. If you love tinkering with web design, start freelancing. If you love organizing your home, become a professional organizer. If you enjoy building furniture, start selling furniture.
You need to develop some of these “enjoyable” skills to make them profitable. Take a class if you feel like an amateur, but don’t get lost in education. Sometimes “good enough” is truly good enough.
Love what you do.
If you’re having trouble living on your passion, maybe you could learn to love what you already do. What’s something you’re great at?
Sometimes we don’t realize that we’re great at something that’s valuable to others, or we don’t particularly like what we’re doing with our lives. Somebody has to do even the “lowliest” jobs, so take pride in what you already do.
Go further than that – do your job better than everybody else. If you’re proud of your work, make sure your work is great. Everyone should take pride in their work, regardless of what that work is.
Be the best damned delivery driver, CEO, janitor, nurse or manager you can possibly be. Somebody will appreciate what you do, so do it well.
Mix your skills and interests.
You’ve no doubt gained many skills in your life. Try mixing a few skills if you’re more than decent at a few of them.
Nothing says you have to fit into a mold to have a purpose. Your “job title” may not even be invented yet. Think about it – social media consultants and YouTube vloggers didn’t even exist 10 years ago.
So be ready to apply your random skills to a new field of work. You never know when something might pop up.
My love for design, philosophy, teaching, and my writing background led to creating this site. Now I teach what I love, and I love teaching. (I’m especially looking forward to teaching my son everything I know.) I couldn’t have been a modern philosopher 15 years ago, but I can now.
What did you want to do when you were a teenager?
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. “
– e. e. cummings
I wanted to create art. That didn’t work out well, but I pursued it for a while. I learned a ton on that journey, like how to create beautiful web sites, how to set up a filming studio, and how to fail with confidence.
I then studied graphic design in college, which led me deeper toward web design, which ultimately led me here. It’s a path I didn’t expect, but here I am.
Fortunately, you can get back to your roots. Think back to high school – what did you want to do when you “grew up”? See if you can get back there, or let your path evolve, like I did.
I may pursue another facet of my failed art career one day. Who knows? It’s food for thought that I’ll explore in time, and I can actually be excited about that!
Learning a new subject may spark an interest in something unexpected. So don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t think that you have to go to college to get an education.
Try a local cooking class, an art workshop, or sign up for Khan Academy and pick a random subject. You have choices, see what you can learn.
Or, if you have kids, get involved in their education. See what they excel at and encourage it. You may end up fostering a great purpose in your children, as well.
Do it for good reasons.
“What matters is becoming bigger than yourself. Once you do, you learn that you have a purpose in life.”
– Leo Babauta
Whatever purpose you find in life, try to give to society. You should work on things that will be beneficial to more than yourself. Be generous.
I share wisdom free of charge. I plan on making money, but I want to give away as much as I can. Am I greedy for this? Not at all! I want to support my family and spread amazing ideas.
Start volunteering or build a business that shares. Whether it’s knowledge, labor, or profits, the good karma is worth it.
Stop treading water – start swimming.
You know what you need to do, so stop treading water. Start taking action if you feel stuck. Build something, do something great.
Find a purpose and pursue it relentlessly. Your goals can change, you don’t always have to pursue the same thing. Just remember – having a purpose doesn’t mean being rich, it’s making a choice to live happily and make an impact.