Living on purpose is much easier than most people make it out to be.
You don’t need to save the world by inventing an eco-friendly toilet that’s made of recycled microplastic and turns your poop into money for needy kids when you flush.
Instead, it’s about making a difference, no matter how small.
As a former purpose coach, I know that finding your purpose is often overwhelming. All the different options, opportunities, and opinions lead to discouragement instead of fulfillment. Even when you’ve found something, you can’t just turn around your whole life on a whim. You’ve got bills to pay, obligations to look after, and a family to feed.
So instead of reinventing the wheel, start small by following these five simple principles.
Flip the Script Most People Live By
Today’s world glorifies consumption.
It’s everywhere. Social media posts. Fast food burgers. Fancy cars. Netflix series. Music on demand. YouTube videos. Celebrities who flex with garages full of supercars. The list goes on – but it’s not the answer to what you seek.
Consumption leaves you empty like the burger wrapping after the $1.99 filling has disappeared in your gullet.
Have you ever felt more fulfilled and at peace with yourself after you scrolled through Instagram or spent hours on a Netflix series? The dopamine hits fade quickly and leave you with a craving for more. But no matter how much you consume, it will never fill the void.
Instead of scrolling through social media, design an inspiring post.
Instead of watching Netflix, write an article, a letter to a friend, or for yourself in your journal.
Instead of buying the tenth pair of sneakers this year, give away your old clothes to those in need.
Creation is hard, but the upsides are tremendous. You learn new skills. You inspire others. You contribute to the world. And you go to bed smiling, knowing that today, you’ve lived on purpose.
Creation fulfills, consumption depletes. Choose intentionally.
Embrace What Makes You Unique
Michelangelo was one of the most accomplished artists in the history of humankind – and today, he’ll teach us an important lesson.
The Italian sculptor, painter, and architect has created enormous amounts of world-famous statues, frescoes, and poetry. He also designed the St. Peter’s Basilica, whose dome was dubbed “the greatest creation of the Renaissance.” He truly made use of his gifts.
Imagine if Michelangelo would’ve become a merchant, doctor, or accountant because his parents told him to. He might’ve been great at not only cutting marble but also bodies, yet how much would the world have lost? How much of his life would he have lived on purpose? How miserable would he have been dreaming about sculptures while he was stuck on ancient spreadsheets?
Yet, that is exactly what lots of men do today.
They don’t use their strengths and talents because they’re not aware of them or, worse, lack self-trust. Instead, they give in to the demands of society and the pressure of their job. The results are burnout, dissatisfaction, and low self-confidence.
If you instead use your unique gifts and passions to contribute to the world in ways others can’t, you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.
Let’s say you’re passionate about saving the environment. If you’re good at writing, spread awareness through your work. If you’re a gifted cook, share recipes for vegan meals. And if you’re good with people, organize a volunteer event. Purpose is about using your unique gifts in the best and most fulfilling way possible.
As author Cornelius Addison said:
It’s Not About What You Do But the Place It’s Coming From
You can do all the right things yet still be miserable.
If you try to be perfect, get recognized, or be seen in a certain way, you’ll never feel fulfilled because you rely on external factors you can’t control. Instead, do the right thing for the sake of it.
A few weeks ago, I saw a caterpillar crossing a street, barely escaping a messy meet with a car tire. I picked the little buddy up and put him into greener grass. Did the world stop turning because of what I did? No. Did I receive tons of likes on social media? Nah. Did I tell anyone at all? Nope. Yet, I still went to bed that night smiling, knowing that because of me, Corey the Caterpillar could get home to his family.
The smallest actions can give you purpose if they’re coming from the right place.
Treat Purpose as a Process
Perfection is the enemy of getting things done.
Lots of men I’ve coached bought into the idea that there must be one specific, overarching purpose to their life, like a key that unlocks the vault to happiness, fulfillment, and eternal glory. Plain and simple, there isn’t.
Your life changes along with your values, opinions, and beliefs – and so does your purpose.
When I was fresh out of high school and went full-time traveling for a year, my purpose was to explore everything the world had to offer, including scantily clad girls, sandy beaches, and cheap beer. Fast forward a few years and I wrote articles to inspire others through philosophy, personal development, and humor. Recently, I moved from helping men live on purpose to being a business coach. Who knows what life has in store for me in the future, but the lesson is always the same.
Purpose is a process and life is constant change. Don’t obsess over theory or the perfect opportunity. Do what feels right and see where it takes you.
Most of your path will only become visible after you start walking.
Stop Making Your Purpose About You
Fulfillment isn’t the goal – it’s the byproduct.
Instead of doing something to feel fulfilled, happy, or enough, focus on contribution.
As Darius Foroux wrote:
We’re always told to look out for ourselves. Get good grades, score a prestigious job, and make tons of money so you can buy awesome things for yourself. I’m not saying you should sell your last pair of underwear and live like a monk. But what if you could improve your own life by adding value to others’?
Find ways to serve – whether it’s other people, the planet, or some cosmic entity you believe in.
When you stop focusing on your gain, it will come back and wash over you in ways you couldn’t imagine. When I obsessed about the money I made from writing, my articles sucked and revenue dried up like a puddle in the Atacama desert. But when I instead focused on providing value, the numbers went through the roof. When I obsessed about getting more clients, people avoided me like the plague. But when I focused on serving others and helping them out, people got desperate to work with me.
Stop chasing happiness and fulfillment. Contribute to the world in any way you can. Call a friend. Help the pregnant lady with her stroller. Tell your parents you love them. Talk to the homeless person on your street. That’s where you’ll find purpose.
Wrap-Up To Help You Live a Life on Purpose
Living on purpose is something you can do every day – but first and foremost, it’s a mindset. Like any mindset, it’s built on principles and decisions that help you do things differently than you have so far.
- Consume less, create more.
- Use your unique gifts.
- Come from the right place and do the right thing for the sake of it.
- Treat your purpose as a process instead of aiming for perfection.
- Focus on contribution instead of pleasing yourself.
Every time you wake up, you have a new chance to live on purpose. Why not take it? Life’s too short to waste it, so start today.