The power and necessity of purpose
Purpose is very powerful and I believe we need it badly… Purpose is the joy of living a life of one’s own choosing. A life in line with one’s values.
Anyone who has attended a training on personal leadership or visited a coach will have heard this. And if you don’t have that experience please take some time to:
- Think of your most satisfying moments in your life and see what values were respected.
- Think of your most dark moments in your life and see what values were violated.
Hopefully this gives you an idea why purpose is so powerful.
The reason why I write this blog is that yesterday I read an article that made me cry.** It, once again, showed me why purpose is so important and that without it life seems pretty superficial and meaningless in my opinion. I felt the pain of too many people not living up to their potential by not respecting (maybe not even knowing) their values.
Not only I felt the pain, I also felt frustration because (excuse my bottom line bluntness) we are (unconsciously) fucking up the world we live in for our future generations. So please keep on reading for the sake of our children (this one is for you Tom, you rock big time).
I have been reluctant to write about this, because I am afraid to be seen as someone who thinks ‘he’s right’ and the others are wrong. However, our children’s future is larger than my own fear. I really do think that if everyone continuously takes small (or if possible bigger) steps themselves we can make HUGE progress collectively as humanity. Just imagine what would happen if:
the top 10% wealthy people (you are probably one of them), would give 5% of their future income to the world’s poorest? Problem of inequality not solved, but poverty would be gone…
- we would reduce our consumption (amongst which air travel and meat) by 10%?
- we would exchange 5 of our daily negative sneers to others into messages of love & compassion?
I don’t want to sound too pessimistic, however there is too much research out that there that the time is indeed ticking… Ignoring these messages is in my opinion an act of not taking responsibility. For that reason I hope to inspire people with this blog to clarify their values and define their purpose. And also the next step, to take specific action to live up to that purpose. For the sake of a better quality of life for yourself and everyone else, including our future generations.
Why purpose helps you to live a more qualitative life
No purpose –> no goals –> vague or no plans –> random actions, living other people’s agendas –> no satisfaction –> energy drain –> a life of misery
Clear purpose –> clear goals –> clear plans –> focus –> more balance –> more satisfaction –> a life of quality
When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind
I think living a life of purpose is courageous. It takes tremendous courage and commitment to really choose and keep choosing a course of meaning. To walk your own talk, because it will involve saying NO to a lot of things. Including the short-term pleasures that are being thrown at us ferociously on a daily basis. It’s denying yourself these pleasures to enjoy better returns in the long term. In order not to loose track you need a value based purpose. It will serve as an inner compass. This will not imply that you will be on course all the time, however you do have your long term goal in mind. By keeping that end clearly in mind whatever you do at any given time, you will ensure that you do not lose sight of the criteria you have defined as supremely important in your life.
Our mind is constantly seeking immediate rewards and hence this is the tough part. Especially with current technologies around us that know us better than ourselves and hence are unconsciously pushing our buttons constantly. This is another argument for the need for a value based life. The technologies are great, if used based on proper values. If not, well I leave it up to your own imagination…. In my imagination I see Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio enjoying themselves on that boat…
Don’t get me wrong, living a life of purpose does not imply that problems are not present. Problems are an integral part of life. Everyone one has problems. The difference is that if you know your purpose (based on proper values), your problems are worth fighting for and that’s a game changer.
Tackling these challenges actually brings us happiness. Happiness comes from how we handle our problems, not avoiding them. Happiness can’t be a goal in itself, it’s a result of you being able to deal with your challenges while living out your purpose.
So, if we will suffer anyways, why not upgrade the quality of our problems?
How? By pursuing goals that are worthwhile. Goals that are based on proper values. Chances are that you are better able to handle problems that arise while you are trying to build an orphanage for starving children than handling the problems you will face while you are trying to sell dope to drug addicts (remember Walter in Breaking Bad?).
Hence to make our problems more enjoyable, let’s focus on creating more worthwhile problems by choosing proper values in our lives. Proper values should be:
- Good for you and all others
- Applicable now, in the present
- Under your control, e.g. I want to be liked by others is out of your control and hence a shitty value to live by, you don’t control the perception of others towards yourself.
Some examples of proper values:
Courage, compassion, generosity, temperance, persistence, service, and friendliness. And in my opinion one we desperately need more is INTEGRITY (coming up in more detail in my next blog).
As said it takes courage and commitment to life up to your values. Do I myself live up to my values? No, here is my top 4 acts (or non-action) that show that I am not living up to my values.
- Too much air travel – a conflict of values is at play. My value for exploration/adventure vs. moderation/sustainability
- Not supporting others enough – I am aware of the privileges I have and feel that I can improve on my value of generosity
- I procrastinate out of fear, which is not in line with my value of courage
- I can be harsh to others, which is not in line with my value of compassion
So, I suppose I have to create some accountability to take the smallest next step possible (for me) to live up more to these values. So, feel free to check in the future, whether I have been able to live up more. If so, great, what’s the next step? If not, great, what have you learned?
Regarding air travel I want to make more conscious choices. And if I fly to compensate (financially) for the CO2 emissions. And by compensating I mean more than ticking the box at the airlines for 3 euro 56… In the meantime I hope and believe that the Elon Musks of this world keep pushing for climate friendly solutions. Hooray for visionary entrepreneurs!
Supporting others and procrastination are linked in this case. I need to increase my income by not procrastinating on work. This will release my (perceived) fear of not having enough. It will enable me again to dedicate both time and financial resources to making this world a better place.
Being more compassionate, this may sound goofy, however it truly does work. I have to take a daily moment again to be grateful for five things that happened this day. It really does do wonders to your mindset and makes you a more compassionate person the day after.
Ok, well this is my view on why purpose is important and how I hope to apply it more in my own life. If you share this vision I hope you will investigate yourself as well which actions you can take now to life up more to your values.
Purpose without dedicated action is simply not enough. Action without a clear purpose is a waste. It is when these two powerful forces are aligned that the energy of the universe conspires in your favor.
Thank you for your attention.
This part of the article made impact. As I have experienced this, too many times, first hand.
“”Without compassion for other people and mother nature your existence will be empty. There are people who used to be counted among the elite and who earn a million. They also find it a disgrace when they receive no bonus at the end of the year. That they are not ashamed, I do not understand. What a contradiction with the ladies of the home care. They do a fantastic job at a meager salary. They sometimes come in here as drowned cats, because of the rain. They don’t complain and go home with little more than a tenner per hour. While they are committed to fellow human beings who are in the most vulnerable phase of their lives. There is a growing gap in society because individualism has gone through like this. It should be about non-material things, like love. “”
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