Purpose here is used in the sense of a mission or reason for personal existence. There is no definitive approach to determining purpose. Those who believe that people exist by virtue of a deity’s or nature’s design have the problem of trying to know the deity’s or nature’s intent. Some seek solace in scriptures or gurus or prophets and may face problems of faith. Atheists and nihilists may sooner or later be faced with their own egoism. They are open to identity crises: if I exist only for myself, then who am I? Either belief system has an inherent dilemma that befuddles each of us sooner or later.
Sometimes when people ask themselves what purpose there is in life, they are in crisis. A lasting feeling of purposelessness indicates the need for medical, mental health, or pastoral assistance. Dealing with depression, anxiety, burnout, or personal or community disaster requires professional help. For those of us who occasionally need to step back to take a look at what we are doing, or who are looking for a way to make a positive change, the following may be useful.
A productive approach is to identify activities or aspects of our lives that are satisfying and aligned with our needs and values. We can ask of ourselves:
- What is it I do that helps others – particularly those I care about? What can I do to add value to others’ lives or to the world?
- What am I passionate about? During which activities do I ”lose myself” – become totally focused on the moment?
- What are my blessings? What ten things or people am I lucky or thankful to have?
Answers to the above questions may give us some ideas as to how to achieve the balance, joy, happiness, peace, security, excitement, love, or independence that we are seeking. What follows are some steps to help
- align our daily activities with the answers to the above questions
- identify what is important to us
- remove pernicious barriers to achieving the life we want.
Translating ideas into action is best done daily. Consistency builds momentum. Here are suggested steps.
- List your "Must Do" items. This rids you of brain-clutter, sets the groundwork for improved focus, and also ensures important tasks are remembered.
- Review your goals. Reviewing your goals helps to focus on what is really important. What would have to happen to make this week perfect? What events or accomplishments would please you the most over the next three to six months? If you were to look back on your life three to five years from now, what might you say made everything worthwhile?
- Add any tasks that will help to achieve these goals to your “Must Do” list.
- Prioritize 3 must do’s. Now that you have a Must Do list, ask yourself: "What can I do right now that will have the most impact on achieving my goals?" or “If I could get 3 things done today that would make me happy with my accomplishments, what would they be?” Check mark or highlight or otherwise focus on these items.
- Delegate, schedule, do your priorities. DELEGATE: if someone else can and will do your task satisfactorily, get them to do it. This effectively multiplies your time and effort. SCHEDULE: If a task is best done on a particular day or at a particular time, schedule it (include follow up on delegated tasks). Of any remaining priorities, DO IT. When priorities are delegated, scheduled, or done, take time to celebrate. Reward is a great motivator - but does not have to be expensive.
- Trash it and move on. Get rid of anything on your Must Do list that does not move you toward your goals. If you have time, go back to step 4.
Distractions and Daydreaming
When you find yourself daydreaming or doing something that is not a priority, add the task or thought to your must do list, and go back to accomplishing your priorities.
Fear / Lack of Self Confidence
Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich asserted that the greatest barrier separating a person from their goal is lack of self confidence. He offered the following formula for developing self-confidence.
Top of page
- FIRST: I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my definite purpose in life, therefore; I demand of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I have and now promise to render such action.
- SECOND: I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality; therefore, I will concentrate my thoughts for thirty minutes daily upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear mental picture.
- THIRD: I know through the principle of autosuggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it, therefore, I will devote ten minutes daily to demanding of myself the development of self-confidence.
- FOURTH: I have clearly written down a description of my definite chief aim in life, and I will never stop trying, until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment.
- FIFTH: I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice; therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the focus I wish to use and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me, because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself, I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory, and repeat it aloud once a day with full faith that it will gradually influence my thoughts and actions so that I will become a self-reliant, and successful person.