This isn’t another step by step process on how to find your purpose. No one needs that. No one needs another “10 steps or benefits to knowing your purpose” article that bores the hell out of you right off the bat.
Magazines and websites add that title with an attractive cover image just to bait your click. But you know those articles give you no value at the end. The only value you are creating is for another billionaire who is getting richer at your expense.
But I’m not a billionaire, a millionaire nor a hundred thousandaire. So – don’t skim this one. You won’t get anything by just reading the titles.
This is a good read if you allow it to be. Get to the end, you’ll see. I guarantee it. Hold on tight until you feel cathartic.
It will help you think – and hopefully reveal to you why you sometimes feel stagnated – in life, love, and soul.
You’ll figure out what you need to do when you feel low – or even better, you’ll figure out what you’re supposed to do with your entire miserable life.
Wait. Did I say Miserable?
I guess I did. Life is miserable for the most part of it. Isn’t it? If you’ve lived as many years as I have – you’d know that this can be true. But we’ll get to misery soon – it’s all part of this lesson.
We can create moments that take away our misery. And this article is about making more of those moments on a consistent basis.
That’s why you’re here. Because knowing your purpose in life is important.
So, stay on – this is the real deal. It’s the hard truth in several nutshells.
Hopefully you’ll fully understand or at the least you’ll begin to understand.
Knowing your purpose is not that complicated. It just needs some direction to your thinking.
It needs some exploration of your innermost self.
But remember – the moment you distract yourself from this train of thought – you wont get anywhere. You’ll go back to doing what you were doing – and fail to find it again.
People who keep postponing the search for purpose resent themselves deep inside. They’ll get into anything that distracts them from finding their purpose – Alcoholism, Drug addiction, Sex addiction, Party addiction, Porn addiction, Video Game addiction, Movie Binging, Overeating – you name it.
They are asleep, although they are awake. Now and then they momentarily wake up from their slumber to a shocking realization of the absolute mess they’ve made out of their lives. Failed exams, sky high debt, an ugly divorce, obesity, diabetes, dialysis, the list goes on. Rather than trying to face it – they go right back to sleep. Some decide to remain in that sleep until it’s akin to a coma. It’s tragic.
We see them around us – they ruin their lives and the lives of everyone around them. Not even trying to find their purpose, they whine and wallow. I call them Zombies. They walk, talk and seem alive but they live without a purpose. Just bodies taking up space. A waste.
That’s the result of not searching for your purpose.
Even if you don’t find it – looking for it helps. Even if you look for it until the moment your last breath reaches your throat. It is a pursuit that’s worthwhile. It’s important not just for you – but for everyone around you.
So, you might hate yourself – but if you love your family, if you love your dog, or if you love just Kim Kardashian – don’t be a Zombie. It’s not useful to anyone.
This means all of us need to find it – this thing called “purpose”.
Seeking It makes life’s complexity bearable. Changing your environment to suit your purpose becomes an informed decision.
When you find your purpose, your outlook changes. You don’t start your work on Monday thinking “Not again”. You don’t procrastinate. You become a big boy (or a big girl). An adult.
You live knowing what you are doing matters. Life becomes meaningful.
Because, knowing your purpose puts a timeline on your forehead. You realize your lifetime is limited. You don’t have enough time to get where you want to if you slack and sloth.
Thats why it’s important.
It isn’t a joke.
So how do you find it? This “purpose” thing?
What is my nature?
A dog and a scorpion met each other at the bank of a river. Both wanted to get across to the other side. While it was a simple swim for the dog, the scorpion needed help. So the scorpion asked for a favour from the dog. “Can you carry me over to the other side?”.
The dog replied “I could. But how do I know you won’t sting me halfway across the river?”
“Why would I sting you? We’d both die!” the scorpion responded.
He had a point. So, the dog agreed and jumped into the gushing river with the scorpion on his back, paddling fervently. Halfway across, the dog asked the scorpion “How are you doing?”. “Doing great!” the scorpion replied.
The dog laboured on, and there were only a few more strides to the bank of the river. But just when it seemed like things were going smooth… BANG! The scorpion stung the dog on its back.
The poison, like boiling lava, shot through the dog’s veins. He lost control over his limbs, and was now being slowly reeled in by the river. “Why did you sting me?” he demanded the scorpion “You gave me your word!”
The scorpion, now wrestling against the claws of the current, gasped “It is in my nature to sting. That is why I did!. But, why did you trust me? You knew I’ll eventually sting! You knew it was in my nature!”
As the water crept into his mouth and the poison almost at his heart, the dog shouted back “It is in my nature to help. That is why I did!”
This is a Zen story was narrated to me by a friend. Since then it has sparked a valuable thought. Animals know their nature. But as a human, what is my nature?
To find your purpose you must first know your nature
Animals understand their nature like a full moon in a dark night. It is obvious to them what they must do with their lives. Their nature is what governs them regardless of the circumstances – like cruise mode on a highway. It is more than intuition, it is “instinct”.
For us humans, our Nature is not obvious. It takes conscious cognition to bring it to awareness. The answers to questions such as “Why do I exist? What am I supposed to do with my life?” does not come without intentional thinking.
People who don’t take the time to think about it become Zombies. They run towards temporal things disguised by an attractive husk. So, when their purpose calls them to cause – they interpret it as “unnecessary pain”, a “hassle”, an “obligation”. Because pursuing your purpose is not easy. It takes courage. Like the Dog who put a scorpion on his back.
Just like the Zombies in movies are drawn to meat, the Zombies I’m talking about are drawn to material things which they are compelled to devour at any cost. They flock in the thousands to get their hands on a “thing” and won’t rest until they do – even if it kills them or they lose a limb.
When they see a “Conscious” human, they’d rather kill them or turn them into a fellow Zombie. They don’t want others to have brains. As long as everyone is brain dead – nobody gets hurt.
In Zombie Land you don’t think, and you don’t let others think.
We have a dangerous lack of thinkers today and a terrifying epidemic of Zombies. The apocalypse is here. We are just not aware of it.
But all Zombies have their nature embedded in them. They are human after all – just that their brains and heart are switched off. Every Zombie story can end well if they decide to think. They can be revived into a living, breathing, awake and pure human being.
You and I can still think. We can still find the answer to “Why” if we try.
Mark Twain once said you have two important days in your life – The day you come into this world and the day you find out why. If you are reading this, you’ve already experienced one of those days. To find out why you exist – you’ve got to understand your nature.
It is in the human nature to create
You and I have completely different lives and completely different purposes. But as a species it is in our human nature to be creative.
Elephants are the strongest animal on earth, Birds sing, Cheetahs are fast, Lions rule the Jungle, Dogs make great companions and Scorpions sting. Each species has its unique nature. But, there is only one species on earth that is creative. The human being.
There is no other species on earth that can build a bridge, write a book, compose a song or programme a computer. This is our allotted part in this world. We must create, even if it means we face a threat to our life. It is the thing that completes us. It is what will make our existence worthwhile.
As a species we have been creating since the beginning of civilization, and will continue to do so until the end of it. Our happiness relies on creating things we need and love. Our success relies on creating things that are useful.
So, What can you create?
We can create destruction, we can create harmony. The choice is ours.
Wherever there is a problem – we can create a solution. When everything is solved – we can create another problem.
When there is no hope – we can create reasons for hope. When hope encompasses us all – we can create reasons for doubt.
Where there is chaos, we can create beauty. Where there is beauty we can create chaos.
Where there is distance we can build bridges. Where there is closeness we can create distance.
The choice is always ours.
So, rather than asking “why do I exist?” ask yourself “What should I create?”
But that’s not as simple either.
To find out what you must and can create – you must first know your enemy.
The story of the shoe maker – Find what you are good at to find your purpose.
I heard of a young shoe maker who, during his 20s, fell in love with the art of crafting shoes. He immersed himself in learning the art of shoemaking. He apprenticed under a master; practiced day and night. He would travel miles from home to find new techniques and spend hours to master them – just so he could make better shoes.
One day he saw that his friend’s shoes were broken so he offered to repair them for free.
“I have some spare leather from the workshop, I could easily fix this for you” he said.
The friend agreed, and with the spare leather he had – the shoemaker spent the whole night repairing the shoes.
At dawn the next day, the shoes had completely changed. If someone could compare them, the originals would have been discarded as trash. The new pair looked better, they even fit better – to the friend the transformation was almost miraculous.
Wearing the new shoes he tap danced out of the shoemakers workshop. Everyone he met wanted to know where he got the shoes from. “From so and so, who is my good friend.” he said.
The next thing you knew, the shoemaker had phone call after phone call of people asking for his help to repair their shoes. When the repairs were great they asked him if he could make new shoes from scratch. In a matter of days the workshop was running in full swing. It didn’t take long for him to hire a few others and generate an excellent business. In months the entire town knew him as “The Shoemaker”.
With such success, and still in his late 20s, the shoemaker’s mother suggested it was time to get married. So, he found a beautiful girl for himself, and they got married on a magical Saturday evening.
A few weeks after the wedding the shoemaker had a visitor at his home. After exchanging greetings and current events from each other’s lives, the guest asked the shoemaker “So, what are your children going to know you as? Just a Shoemaker? Did you consider what people would think of a child whose father is simply… a shoemaker?” he said.
Doubt entered him like a venomous snake.
“Do I really want to be called the “Shoemaker” for the rest of my life?” He thought
He went back home that day. Set aside his tools and said to his wife – “from today onwards I shall work to become a professional.”
So, he closed down the workshop and went back to school to study. He then found a job at a bank and earned his way up the corporate ladder.
Today Joseph works as an Assistant Bank Manager. At 47 years of age – he is planning for retirement in a few years. He has bought his wife a home, sent his children to school, leased a car and is known to his friends as a respectable banker. He’ll get promoted to Bank Manager as soon as his boss retires in 5 years (or if he is lucky and the boss dies he’ll get promoted earlier). He still doesn’t know what his passion is, and can’t wait to pay off all his bills and send his children off in marriage.
The world lost a great shoemaker, and got one more Assistant Bank Manager. In short – his enemy kicked his butt. The same enemy that kicks our butt on a daily basis.
If you ask me about the authenticity of this story – it is not a folk tale that I whipped out of the blue. This individual is related to me personally. The story is fact (Of course I messed with some details to keep him anonymous).
Nevertheless this is a sad story we all recognize. Doubt kills dreams.
This is why, before you find your talent – you must first know thy enemy.
Know thy enemy.
Your purpose has a strong opposition. An enemy. A force that will not stop until you are down on your knees begging for mercy.
The enemy is within you. Its name – “resistance”.
It is that thing that prevents you from doing your work – to pick up the paint brush, to string your instrument, to start that business, or to write that movie script, that song, book, or thesis.
This enemy is not a modern phenomenon. The Christians call it Satan, Muslims call it Shaythan, Buddhists call it Maara. We will call it Resistance. Whichever name you give it though – your enemy is alive. It exists. It will stop you before you begin – because it hates you for your success.
But, before you begin, you must accept its existence. Denying it will only make you fail.
Denying it is the best tactic your enemy uses against you to stop you from moving forward.
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist”
~Usual Suspects (1995)
What does your enemy do?
Your enemy, resistance, is better at screwing you over than your ability to get things done. It is 10 times more powerful than you. It wants to kill you – slowly. It wants you to remain miserable. Day in and day out.
When you die – the only thing it wants you to build is nothing but a measly tombstone (It would stop you from building that too if it can).
You meet your enemy every day when you wake up. It is the reason why you never got going on your dream. It is the reason you never stuck to a diet or work out plan. It is the reason you don’t complete the next level of your education, get married, have children, meditate, pray, get out of an addiction, or make the call that’ll change your life. It loves it when you screw up on a daily basis. It celebrates every moment you hate yourself.
It’s as if you are in a wrestling ring facing a formidable opponent while being blindfolded. You don’t see your opponent who is 10 times larger and 20 times smarter. The only way to defeat it is to understand it’s tactics, and move like a ninja every time it strikes.
Tactics of Resistance: Your enemy’s strategy
The following is a paraphrased and concise version of Steven Pressfield’s “War of Art”. I give him all the credit for coming up with this idea. And I take no credit for it. But it adds to my point on purpose.
To kill your dreams, the enemy employs allies. In Fact – you are at a disadvantage at all times because the enemy has more tools to screw you over than you have tools to defeat it. You must know however, that your one tool is more powerful than anything your enemy can wield against you. So, there is hope.
We must recognize all of his tactics. Because, more often than not, resistance defeats you and you don’t even know it.
Procrastination – your enemy’s favourite game
Procrastination is the disguise that your enemy loves. It is the easiest to mess with your life because we never say “I will not write that book”. We just say “I will write that book, but I’ll write it tomorrow”. When procrastination becomes a habit it becomes deadly – you will postpone your life until your deathbed. Remember this second is enough for you to change your life. If you just sit down right now – you can do your work. You can create. This day, this moment is an opportunity for us to do our work and fulfil our purpose.
Sometimes we are given the perception that we need to heal before starting our work. We don’t say “I can’t practice my guitar today”. We say “I can’t practice my guitar today because I am not emotionally or physically healthy. I need to heal before I begin”. This is a manifestation of procrastination.
What are you trying to heal? The pro boxer knows that he will never wake up without pain – he is recovering from injury every day – but he knows he has got to practice.
You probably need healing in your personal life. But your true self is untainted. It is pure. You don’t need it to heal. It is when you create your future with conscious work that you come alive.
Of course if you need healing, do it in parallel to doing your work. Don’t mix the two up.
The goddess of distraction. You can be obsessed by it and preoccupied by it so much so that nothing gets done. Adultery, Masturbation, Porn addiction are all part of it. This is not the act of love, that’s done in the right context. Resistance defeats you when you have the compulsion to do more and more of it when work needs to get done.
“I don’t have the right support”.
There’s no better way to push back doing your work than to go to a workshop. Tony Robbins, Motivation groups, family, friends, it’s a seductive form of procrastination. Your friends can never help you get to the other side nor can a guru. You must be the driver of your life. The more we seek assistance from others, the less independent we become in doing our own work.
Love for trouble
Constantly calling in sick, cruelty to others, screwing-up compulsively, open jealousy, chronic lateness, blasting music loudly so that the whole neighbourhood could hear, or anything negative that gains attention is a symptom of Resistance.
Its easy to get attention by sleeping with your best friend’s wife and get caught. It’s hard to get attention by succeeding in your craft. Resistance loves when you get into trouble. Because trouble gives you an excuse as to why you shouldn’t work.
Self Dramatization is the brother of trouble. Rather than writing that novel it’s easier to date a gangster so that the entire family has your attention. Because, you draw the same amount of attention as the gangster’s girlfriend as it is with writing a successful novel.
Over drinking, full body tattoos, anything that brings about absurd attention is unequivocally a manifestation of resistance.
If you think you have a disorder, and you need self-medication you probably don’t. “I need a spliff of weed” or “weed helps me think better” is the easiest exit from productivity. An excuse to screw-up instead of growing up.
The Victim Mindset
Your enemy loves this. Your act that you’re not getting opportunity because of your gender, your race, or your financial status. All of these are bogus lies. Of course there is discrimination, of course theres a high chance someone might have it hard – but does it have to stop you from doing your work? Does it have to stop you from trying?
Resistance feels like hell at first. We hate ourselves so we want to party, get drunk, surf the web so that we could feel happy. If you don’t do the work however, resistance can become unbearable – pivoting you to much worse vices that turn to habit. Gambling, Adultery, Excessive Food, Excessive Shopping are all in the same bucket.
Fundamentalism is the reason why religions have groups whose sole objective is to oppose anything that results in progress. Opposition to progress is something a fundamentalist loves. They believe that the best times were in the past – and for a moment don’t consider that we could create that idealistic world if the mindset was focused on progress. This is the reason major religious fundamentalism always stands against progress. Fundamentalism is a great manifestation of resistance.
Your enemy loves it – because it gives people a justification why they should not try to create. A Fundamentalist would always have an argument to why they don’t want to work. “I can’t practice my craft because I have religious duties.” or worse they criticise others “You must do your religious duties instead of practicing your craft!”. But, no religion prevented you from working or asked you to be its Prophet. If you find yourself doing this – you are consumed by resistance.
If you find yourself criticizing others, you’re probably doing it out of resistance. When someone sees others living out their true selves, when they haven’t discovered their own, resistance becomes unbearable.
Fantasies are the symptoms of resistance. If you are creating fantasies rather than doing your work – know that resistance has got you. A pro understands that success is only a byproduct of your work. The work is king.
We sometimes don’t embark on a journey because we are afraid of being alone. However, no artist complains about the solitude. Artists are so occupied with their work they don’t feel lonely – they are accompanied by their characters, their creation that it becomes the companion. So don’t worry about loneliness.
Rationalizing bad decisions
We rationalize, to procrastinate and to excuse ourself of feeling fear. “I might fail because I dont have enough experience” or “I will fail because I dont have a good network”. This is the guise from which resistance hides the fact that it is shameful to not work. A more subtler form of rationalization is “My wife is pregnant, the day job demands more and more of my time, I can obviously postpone my speech until the baby is delivered… I should start on it right after I graduate” This is very seductive. It is very scary.
Stuck in the land of potential
If you’re somewhat good at many things but not great at one thing; If you are doing multiple things simultaneously but not completing what matters the most; if you’re stuck being the person with a “lot of potential” and never the person who is “great at that one thing”, resistance has got you. You’re stuck in the land of potential – and resistance loves keeping you there.
There are too many people like this. People who like Project Management today but tomorrow they want to become a Graphic Designer. But, after a few months of Graphic Designing they realize that Project Management wasn’t that bad after all. So, every time they reach a brick wall in life – they change their game or worse they give up.
Resistance loves when you play that game of going back and forth because you remain an infant. You never grow up. When you’re a child, until you’re about 18, you’re a manifestation of unlimited potential. But potential alone isn’t enough – you must do something with it. It’s not easy to choose what you want to do with life. It is not easy to stick your chin up and face life as an adult. So Resistance tells you to keep doing many things – and you’ll eventually find out what you want to do. It gets you nowhere – and resistance loves it.
Now that you know your enemy – how do you find your talent?
The greatest resistance comes to you against what you are truly good at.
The more resistance you have towards something – the more confident you should be that it is your greatest calling.
If you constantly find yourself postponing something and distracting yourself from doing something. You should know that it might be the thing that will bring you freedom.
This can be an ally to you. If you are unsure and ask “Am I a speaker? Am I a director? Am I a writer?” you probably are. The fake artist is overly confident, the genuine one is scared to death.
Don’t let self doubt stop you from working. It is also a trick that resistance plays. When you stop working because you doubt yourself – resistance has defeated you.
This is resistance in true naked form. It can be a great tool to understand your purpose. The more fear you have in doing something – the more sure you should be that you must do it. Pro artists take roles because they are afraid of it – they don’t take roles they have done before.
Love – the more love you feel towards something, the more fear you will have. This is a good thing because it shows you care. If you don’t feel fear, that’s because you don’t love it enough. The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference. If you are indifferent about something – if you don’t care if you win or lose – it’s not going to take you anywhere.
Your enemy is as important as your purpose
How do fighters get better? They fight better opponents.
If your resistance is 10 times stronger than you – it is your best sparring partner.
Boxing against resistance on a daily basis builds your mental muscle. The weak don’t want to go on head to head with resistance. They submit to resistance’s will. Only the strong get through. And if you want to be among the successful – know that there’s no room for weaklings.
Your enemy can tell you what your true purpose is. You’ll find resistance working against you the most when you think about your greatest calling. You’ll feel tired, things will pop up, you’ll procastinate the most when you are supposed to do what you are truly meant to do.
The question then is, what are you truly pushing back? It’s most probably something you are already good at and know could possibly lead into something great.
What are you good at?
You know what you are good at already. Nobody needs to point it out to you.
Maybe you think you haven’t found it yet – but you know deep inside what you can do better than others. You know what you are attracted to doing. What makes you curious? What makes you glued to its thought for a prolonged period of time? What makes you tick?
If you are reading this, its highly probable you’re doing nothing close to this at your current job, at school or college.
What matters is that you create – and create something that is worthwhile to this world with the thing that you do your best at. To find it – ask yourself what do I constantly postpone or distract myself from.
You find your purpose by creating
If everyone in this world discovered their purposes, there would be no envy, deceit, wars and drama all together. You’d own your share of success. You’ll know that happiness is infinitely vast on its own and there is no reason to compare yourself with another. But we fail to understand that, that’s why we fight. That’s why we are on a constant limbo of “trying to find happiness”
I’ll tell you your purpose. You don’t need me to do it – because you already know it. But i’ll do it anyway. Your purpose is to create. Creation is the only skill that makes a human different from any other species. It is the root of why we speak in a language, we have built bridges, skyscrapers and have the internet so that you can read this thing i’m writing for you.
Once you find what you are good at and begin your work – you wont ask yourself “Why am I unhappy”. You’d know the path to happiness is the hardest and on a daily basis sit down to create. (for speakers – here is a bit more motivation as to why should you learn public speaking)
Right now would be an ideal time to start.
Credits & References
- Credit to Steven Pressfield who defined the enemy as “Resistance” in his epic “War of Art”. I recommend that anyone of you should read it. This blog is inspired by the book and I give him all the credit for the thinking.