Do you know why you are on the planet?
I remember my college buddy Dave who at 13 knew he wanted to be a doctor. Most guys are not like my friend Dave. And many guys don't even know what kind of life they want to live after college.
For example, I had no clue what I wanted to do post college except travel the world. I knew corporate America was not for me, so I wanted to do some soul searching. I wanted to “find out” what I was supposed to do with my life.
Recent studies on men between the ages of 16-26 suggest that this age group has no clue what to do with their life and end up staying stuck in what Michael Kimmel calls “Guyland” where men never really grow up.
What about you? Do you know what your life purpose is? Is it the same as your job? Is your purpose aligned with who you are? What can you do to help yourself find your life purpose?
There are many web sites and businesses built upon helping you discover your life purpose. But it all boils down to two things:
- Know yourself deeply
- Know what you want
The more you know yourself, the more you are able to articulate what you want in life and out of that comes discovering your purpose.
So, if it's true that you just need more self-knowledge to discover your purpose, then save yourself a lot of time and money and go inward. Be willing to make the deep dive and your purpose will emerge, but not in the way you think.
Let me explain…
The River Of Your Life
Men often think of discovering their purpose as if it is a mountain to climb. Men often think that one day, they will find their purpose, as if it's a summit, and then everything will be okay.
My own experience suggests otherwise. The satisfaction having reached the summit just doesn't last.
Instead let's use a metaphor of a giant, wide, river.
If you stay in the river of your life, you are likely to be on purpose and you may not even know it. The more you stay in the big wide river, which represents you following your heart or following your truth, then you are on target.
For example, if all you know is that you want to help others, then that is your river. The finer details will come in terms of with whom, where, what and how.
Now, if you don't stay in the river of helping others, and you listen instead to your parents, culture or friends, the more you will get diverted along the path of their river and you will get lost taking side tributaries. You might get distracted by the allure of money, fame, power, or even a woman.
But, how do I find my river? It's simple, get to know yourself deeply and ask the question “What do I want?”.
Some men find their river, but because it is unknown or shakey, they veer off the main channel for a while. This is normal. However, you must come back to the main current of what you want. Otherwise, years go by and you remain lost or stuck.
If you commit to staying on your river, not someone else's, the narrower the river will become until it's like a surging mountain torrent or waterfall. When this happens, you feel alive, invigorated and full of energy to give to your purpose or cause.
A few important points about purpose.
- You have to be willing to know yourself deeply and know what it is you want. Not what your ego wants!
- Most spiritual teachers and traditions agree that a meaningful life purpose is always about helping others.
- David Deida likes to say that if you don't know your purpose, your purpose ought to be finding your purpose.
If you are unclear about your purpose, here are some great exercises:
1. Finding your life's purpose in 20 minutes. This comes from personal development wizard Steve Pavlina. Check it out here.
2. What do you want? Stemming off of what Steve suggests, take out a sheet of paper and write “What do I want?” at the top. Now, write “I want…” and fill in the blank over and over.
Remember not knowing what you want becomes an excuse to continue putting off your life and discovering what you are here to do.
3. Now brainstorm this question from spiritual guy Deepak Chopra, “If you had all the money and all the time in the world what would you do?”
4. Listen to Tripp Lanier interview Guy Sengstock and Brian Johnson on the New Man podcast. These are both great interviews about finding your purpose.
5. Hire a coach, therapist or find a mentor to help you dig deep and find your purpose. They don't hold the answer, but they can help point you to finding your own answers to the big questions.
So remember, finding your purpose in life is about discovering who you are and what you want, plain and simple.