Scott H Young

Feeling Lost? Stop Worrying About Your “Life Purpose”


Feeling Lost?

Every month or two I’ll get an email that goes something like this:

“Hey Scott! I’ve been following your blog for awhile, and I want to make big changes in my life, but I have no idea where to start. I don’t know what my life purpose is, so I just end up procrastinating all day.

The person wants to change their life, but they see no goal for it. No goal means no direction or starting point. Hence the hours spent wallowing in procrastination.

To this, I’d like to share a secret: I have no idea what my life purpose should be, and I don’t think that matters.

The Cult of a Calling

I’m using the words “life purpose” but I could have just as easily used the words “passion”, “calling”, “mission statement” or any of the other dozens of self-help buzzwords floating around these days.

If you know your life’s calling with a deep conviction, great for you. But for the rest of us who don’t, I’m not sure it really matters.

Answering that question too soon can be worse, since it prematurely narrows your perspective. I’d rather enjoy the uncertainty and have broader experiences than answer early and miss opportunities.

But, given all the supposed benefits of having a life purpose, how can you wait in uncertainty? Won’t you just be like the readers who have sent me emails, frittering away time until clarity strikes them?

Let’s look at why people say knowing your life purpose is essential, and I’ll share why I disagree:

Reason One: No Life Purpose = No Motivation

Given the reader email I received, this one seems to make sense. People with clear mission statements, whether it’s conscious living or embracing nonconformity, seem highly motivated.

The mistake here is assuming you need to know the destination to motivate yourself. I have no idea where I’m going to live, who I’m going to be and the projects I’m going to work on in five years. That’s okay, I’m still motivated to work on the smaller projects of improving myself today.

Smaller goals may lack the grandeur of a life calling, but it can still be inspiring. In some ways, small steps can be more motivating, because you see the results now instead of in decades.

Reason Two: Without Seeing the Big Picture, You Can’t Accomplish Big Things

The assumption is that without knowing the big picture, you won’t achieve anything big. You may stay motivated on small tasks, but they will be uncoordinated. The bigger accomplishments, therefore, can only be made by people with grand visions.

Unfortunately there’s not a lot of evidence to back up this assumption. Yes, people who achieved big things often had big plans. But how many people do you know who always have some grand scheme, and never get anything done?

There are plenty of counterexamples of the opposite trend. People who took on interesting pursuits, built skill and connections, and eventually made large accomplishments when opportunity knocked.

Ben Casnocha founder of a successful start-up at 15, claims to never have had such an epiphany moment and credits much of his path to, by chance, enrolling in a computer class. Hard work and drive, yes, but no mission statement for life.

There is a class of machine learning algorithms that are designed to discover a precise value, without knowing what that will be in advance. I think a successful life is lived in much the same way. Not knowing the precise value (which is often impossible), but in devising the philosophy that can discover it along the way.

Reason Three: A Mission Keeps You Focused

The logic goes that without a mission in life, you’ll be unfocused. Having a focus in life is essential, but I disagree with the conventional wisdom about how people actually develop one.

As you improve, you’ll have a greater impact with that skill in money, reputation, and enjoyment. As your skill increases, it becomes more and more advantageous to put effort into improving that skill, relative to other pursuits. This creates a feedback cycle which inevitably focuses your life down to a particular set of skills which you’re the most passionate about and produce the biggest impact.

That positive feedback cycle of skill and reward is natural, and may eventually lead to you “discovering” your life purpose. The problem is you can’t predict exactly where that cycle will go in advance. Trying to prematurely predict your calling in life may derail the more natural process of building that calling.

Having a focus in the short term (say a project, starting a blog or practicing a skill) is good. It’s good to be incredibly enthusiastic about that pursuit. But while focus is essential in the short term, I think it’s equally important to be open in the long term, so you can see where the process takes you.

Reason Four: Knowing Your Mission Helps You Persist in Doubt

If you knew with 100% certainty you were meant to be a doctor, you might not give up after failing your MCAT exam the second time. Here the argument is that life is full of moments of doubt, and without some kind of anchor, it’s easy to give up.

I agree that some kind of anchor is important. Feeling lousy about a rejection, failed project or seemingly endless plateau of mediocrity isn’t just a rational assessment of the facts. It feels terrible and the initial instinct is to cut our losses and avoid the pain. Even when we know that will only make things worse.

But anchoring to a specific calling can be just as problematic as not having an anchor at all. Perhaps you really aren’t cut out to be a doctor, even though you’d make an excellent researcher. Having too much conviction in one outcome may force you to persevere, but it also cuts off any other options—including those that might be better for you.

Instead, I’d rather anchor myself to a more general calling. Not the specific pursuit, but the general aim of a better life and the grit needed to keep persisting through it’s many ups and downs. To lose a race or two, but never stop running forward.

Reason Five: Life Without a Calling is Dull and Meaningless

I can’t speak to the subjective feelings of knowing your life purpose with a conviction. Maybe all the near-orgasmic feel-goodness of following your life’s calling is everything the pundits say it is.

What I can argue is that, even if you don’t know where your life is going specifically, you can still enjoy the hell out of the ride.

Just because I don’t know what kind of life I’ll lead in 5-10 years, doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference now. It’s easy to obsess over the big picture and forget all the little victories along the way. From the personal victories to finishing a project, to the more altruistic of finding out something you’ve done has helped one other person.

Even if you don’t know exactly how you’re life will turn out, you have the little victories along the way. It’s those little victories that can add up to something bigger than you could have ever imagined when you first started.

Image thanks to prakhar


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46 Responses to “Feeling Lost? Stop Worrying About Your “Life Purpose””

  1. Deborah Meredith says:

    Thank you so much for this timely post. I have spent much of the last few weeks wondering about my purpose in life (after 2 years of significant turmoil and stress). I have no ‘big picture’ yet but I have a very vague idea of what I want to do.

    Having followed conventional routes for the last 20 years of my life and career I’ve felt ‘lost’ without a purpose or direct route mapped out in front of me. However, what I realised only yesterday is that maybe, if I just let it happen, it will happen, in its own time, when it’s right for it to happen.

    This post couldn’t be more timely for me.

    Many thanks
    Deborah

  2. A.H.A. says:

    My life purpose is the same as Eben Pagan’s: evolution. To constantly grow and improve in order to get to the next level. My buddy created a slogan for me to summarize my core values: “Creation, Inspiration, Perfection”. To create great works, to inspire others and myself, and to strive for excellence. I like that a lot too.

    But I agree that life purposes are overrated (they should not be underrated either though). Much better to focus on positive randomness, comfort zone busting, deliberate practice, creative long-term projects, refinement of core values and character traits, connecting with interesting people, and investing heavily in metaskills (such as learning to learn).

    Btw I am thinking of starting a personal development blog similar to yours, to give me a different outlet than the magazine. What are some topics that you feel are under-exploited in our particular blog ecosystem? LessWrong type stuff maybe? Neuroscience? Augmented reality? I do have a ton of article ideas myself, just wanted to see if you had some good ones to share too :)

  3. Ollie says:

    Great Post Scott, You couldn’t have posted at a better time for me. For a while now, I’ve been sort of just… feeling down about not having a life purpose, like a future I must go after 100% of my time. Guilt was the only motivation I had to do things, and that itself didn’t last long in any activities. But your line
    “I’d rather enjoy the uncertainty and have broader experiences than answer early and miss opportunities.”
    got me out of that bad feeling. A thought came up. I remembered my goal in life was that I wanted to help people. I thought I had to do that by “surviving” college, get a job and making money, then help(give money to others in need). But I overlooked the small victories I already had… the people and things I’ve done… and also saw how if I didn’t focus so much on my goal, I could have helped even more. In this way, I am sort of achieving it but just going about in a different way that I thought… hm… interesting…

    Not sure if this follows your topic completely, but just wanted to say thanks. I feel much more relaxed about my “life purpose” whether I have one or not, whether I’m achieving it or not.

  4. Scott Young says:

    A.H.A,

    It doesn’t matter as much what you “decide” in advance. Better to just start writing and use the feedback as a way of guiding yourself to an interesting topic. My #1 rule of blogging is “write what you want to read”, no more.

  5. Carlon says:

    Excellent post. I’ve found that life happens when you’re least expecting it. A lot of people I know who are “successful” have often started ventures with very little in mind. As one of my friends said, “If I thought about it too much, I probably wouldn’t have done it.”

  6. A.H.A. says:

    OK, that’s good advice actually.

  7. Will Lutterman says:

    I have never commented but I feel like I have never seen a post that pertained so much to me. I am a young teenager, and through my oppurtunities and experiences, teach courses in Leadership to young adults and other teenagers. One session I teach is called Finding Your Vision. I have had it drilled into my head, and put into practice the importance of having a vision in life, or better put, “If you can see it, you can be it!”.

    I haven’t had ever done more motivating in my life that this. If you know what you want to do, I feel like this post is not worthwhile, but if you have something you want to do in life, like go on a grand trip, accomplish something academically, learn a new language, turn your life around, and you can accommodate all these in a mission statement. Having a vision is NO DOUBT seriously important. I have seen far too many people come through the leadership training course failing to understand the connection between having a personal vision and having success.

  8. Al fred Hung says:

    It is good advice that even if purpose of whole life can be unknown, it still meaningful for those little victories along the way.

    it much better than do nothing before discovered the purpose, which may never be discovered at all.

  9. Vlad Dolezal says:

    There’s a great example of this in The Neverending Story (the book, not the movie).

    The boy comes into Fantasia, and receives an amulet that will fulfill all his wishes in that magic land. And suddenly he’s completely stumped, because he has no idea what to wish for – he feels overwhelmed by the responsibility, since his wishes are supposed to somehow save the fantasy land.

    So the Childlike Empress tells him (I’m paraphrasing): “Just follow your wishes, one after another. They will eventually lead you down the right path.”

    I think that’s a great principle for real life as well :)

  10. A.H.A. says:

    Scott, thoughts on the start up phase of a blog? My plan is to bang out 10-20 articles to seed my blog with, and then to start writing guest posts for people I’ve befriended previously. Is this a sound plan?

  11. Stacey says:

    Excellent post – I think the best you’ve ever written. I love how you debunk the myths associated with finding one true “life purpose”. It can be as addictive as Starbucks to try and find your “calling” and so frustrating when you don’t know what that is.

    I have been trapped like that for years and only recently have I given up trying to find that one thing I am supposed to do and just work on smaller goals as you’ve mentioned. I am already incorporating some of your advice in my life but it was a great read to see it articulated so well!

    Watching my daughter has informed me. At 16 mths she doesn’t have an agenda or her days other than LEARN and I’ve learned so much from watching her take in the world without all the preconceived notions and self-defeating thoughts.

    A great discussion -thanks! I wish I was as wise as you at your age :)
    Stacey

  12. Scott Young says:

    A.H.A,

    Yeah that sounds like a good start. The most important thing to remember is that establishing yourself takes time. Less for some than for others, but in most cases it takes upwards of a year to really give yourself a reputation if you don’t already have an online presence. The #1 reason blogs fail is because the author gives up before they reach that point.

  13. Nancy says:

    Whoa–honestly, perfect timing!

    I’ve just been stressing out about whether I should be more clear about my goal(s) in life or whether I was just thinking too much, and reading your blog post was just what I needed!

    Thanks! =D

  14. Wendy Irene says:

    Scott, this is a wonderful post and I agree with you. You have to let life happen organically, enjoy it, work hard, believe in yourself, and you’ll find your way. I think a lot of times when you cling so hard to trying to find something you end up pushing it away, instead of letting it in.

  15. Scott Young says:

    Wendy,

    I agree. It’s one of those splits I find interesting. In the short-term, I’m extremely goal-oriented, always having some project to focus myself. But in the long-term I’m the complete opposite, with few set ideas and certainly nothing as specific as a “purpose”. Life’s more fun that way.

  16. ash says:

    hi scott, nice post! i am a doctor studying for an entrance examination which will get me a post-graduation residency. but i don’t agree with point 4 here. i believe if we persist with anything, we will eventually succeed. but giving up believing that “i am probably not born here to become a doctor and may be i am destined to become a good scientist” is premature quitting.

  17. david says:

    One of your better posts. In the times where college graduates are a dime a dozen, some, most, are struggling with finding that balance between what their “purpose” in life is with regards to their degree. Like me, i thought that i needed that final destiny feeling to get there. In reality, your post makes absolutely more sense than what i had been thinking.

    Thanks Scott

    David

  18. […] on that purpose thingy… Posted on October 2, 2010 by Ehab Here is a thoughtful post that pertains to our discussions here, and […]

  19. How To Attract New Customers says:

    I think we all need two things on this earth to give us comfort (a sense of peace).

    We need work, and love. And both come in many shapes and sizes.

    Real work, helps you “show up” in love….but real love helps you “show up” at work.

  20. Jen Gresham says:

    I agree–serendipity doesn’t get nearly the credit it should for producing interesting life experiences as well as opening up opportunities we never could have dreamed of. If you ask a “successful” person if they had it all planned out 5 to 10 years ago, nearly all of them will say “I never could have imagined my life would work out this way…”

    I will say there’s a lot of benefit to doing old-fashioned introspection on what you really like and dislike. I worked through Nicholas Lore’s book The Pathfinder and not only found the answers useful, but surprising.

    For example, understanding that time was much more important to me than money rules out a number of career paths. For a long time, I was on the senior management track. I had mentors and supporters to help me get there. But most executives are expected to spend 60+ hours in the office and a considerable amount of that traveling.

    I finally understood that I crave schedule flexibility and family time more than status and money. Along with other revelations I got out of the book, I found a way to quit my job and start designing the future I really wanted.

    That said, I didn’t have the life experience at age 20 or even 30 to know those answers. Sometimes the only way is through.

    Great post, Scott!

  21. Ryan says:

    Great post, Scott!

    I think that consistent, persistent action is the key to finding your purpose. You don’t find your purpose without action. Vision or “knowing what you want to do” never has the same meat and potatoes as action does.

    I have found that if I am uncertain or unmotivated, I simply take a walk and ask myself “what is the next actionable step I can do today to move toward something I really want?”

  22. Tanya says:

    I got it. There’s no conflit between this opposites, if you should take a big purpose or not. By this, it comes a specific answer of each person. I am the only one who says my truth. By the way, even unconsciously, it takes the same proccess to get small unconscious actions, so why not decide and design the big picture based on them?? If you see what I mean, one day you will understand all insignificant pieces from the past as pieces of your unique puzzle.
    Although I am the only one who says my truth and I respect yours.

  23. Tanya says:

    I liked your breakthrough way of thinking, Scott. You are making the difference!

  24. Jay says:

    Scott,

    I love your comment: “My #1 rule of blogging is write what you want to read, no more.”

    I have been using this idea to generate blog post ideas recently and it really helps!

  25. Shane says:

    Scott,

    Well written post, timely and relevant. Your comment on building a blog is exactly what i needed to here at the moment. thanks

  26. Charlie L says:

    Scott,

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Before reading your post, I’ve never considered the surprisingly interesting question of whether having a life purpose was important. Conventional wisdom is simply that it is. But what I love about your articles and ebooks is how you challenge such received wisdom in a practical way.

    My own thought to add is this: how “life purpose” is commonly alluded to by people is puzzling, which I think is where the associated angst and confusion begins. It’s described as though it were some quest to find metaphorical treasure. If only we could discover it somehow, our lives would be magically transformed from that moment forward. It’s a bad metaphor.

    Life purpose isn’t something superimposed on us from a deity, or something “out there” (like an X-files episode), or even something inside of us like a tumor just waiting to be discovered. It’s something we constantly create and modify for ourselves within the context of society. I wonder to what extent “not having a life purpose” can be differentiated from “one that isn’t yet concretely defined but is subject to change.” Thoughts?

  27. JtotheA says:

    Life’s purpose? You give life purpose. I don’t know why this is so overthought.

  28. Scott Young says:

    JtotheA,

    The point of the article wasn’t to debate the overthought point of whether purpose comes from within or externally (I agree with you there).

    Rather, the point is whether a specific purpose is useful, as opposed to a general one. Whether to function at your peak, both in accomplishment and in life satisfaction, one needs to have a specific life purpose (say, being a doctor) or whether a more general one will do (say, creating value in society).

    -Scott

  29. Mars Dorian says:

    Hey Scott,

    your points are interesting – and I understand what you mean. But from personal experience, I found out that having a red line in life does help you a lot.
    I have been lost and confused for a long time in the past, and I never went straight into any direction. The results were abysmal – a life not worth living.
    I have found the big purpose about 1 and half years ago, and since then my life transformed into a wild ride. Being a clear about where you want to go (while staying fresh and open to new stuff) is the grrreatest way to lead a kick-ass life.
    It feels awesome to know where to go – your decisions will have more impact and the meaning makes every day feels like a blessing !
    So, I’d personally advice everyone to find their own red line !

  30. AmyDe says:

    Thank you for your clarity and vision about life and its possibilities. So often we are told that we must have all the answers RIGHT NOW; I think that teaching is harmful. So many feel lost and unworthy so they dawdle and twist and never experience joy in who they are and what they are doing RIGHT NOW.

    I know I am always looking for the next option – the better option – the RIGHT answer that will make all the pieces fall into place so I can find and fulfill my passion and purpose. I also know I miss so much of what’s going on RIGHT NOW. I am working toward being present and aware in my own life. That seems incredibly ridiculous when written out, yet it’s true (a saying about forests and trees is ringing in my head right now).

    Most people looking for THE answer are letting life speed past them. Thank you again for reminding me so clearly that life is more about where I am than where I get to.

  31. […] have been bouncing around in my mind from Scott H Young – one of my own favorite bloggers – Feeling Lost? Stop Worrying about Your “Life Purpose” and Needing Encouragement is a Weakness. Go check them […]

  32. […] Feeling Lost? Stop Worrying about Your “Life Purpose” […]

  33. Muthoni says:

    That is a great read, i have been feeling lost and confused, actually because i dont know if what i am currently doing was my ‘life purpose’.i have decided 2 take on the small projects and achieve the best in them.

  34. Arjan says:

    I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I read about ‘following your Passion’, ‘Having a aim in your life’. I think all that is way overrated, but since everyone seems to stress the importance of having a purpose in your life, I began to think I was mistaking somewhere. So I was very pleased to read this post!

    Instead of a life purpose, I think someone needs some kind of a touchstone to determine whether an opportunity is right or wrong for him/her.

    Although he seems to advocate for the life-purpose notion, Richard Bolles offers in his book ‘What color is your parachute?’ a great tool for developing such a touchstone. He calls it the ‘flower diagram’. In the flowerdiagram you make an inventory of your preferences. Having a clear view of your preferences and your makeup, helps you to find a job that suits you well.

  35. val goldenbrook says:

    Thank you for your inspiring words. I just turned 62 and am healthy, fit, financially secure BUT, I am and have always been a wanderer. I see now the big picture may never be known to me, the moments are what add up to a life. Thank you again Scott for this post

  36. […] Going through life without any sense of direction is terrifying and extremely difficult. It’s like going through a maze blindfolded. You keep making mistakes all the way and you have to retrace your steps multiple times and start again from the very beginning. But that’s life. You’ll never really know where you’re going and what you’re going to get. But I think it’s going to be okay. “The mistake here is assuming you need to know the destination to motivate yourself…Smaller goals may lack the grandeur of a life calling, but it can still be inspiring… even if you don’t know where your life is going specifically, you can still enjoy the hell out of the ride… Even if you don’t know exactly how [your] life will turn out, you have the little victories along the way. It’s those little victories that can add up to something bigger than you could have ever imagined when you first started.” – Scott Young […]

  37. But then the idea that finding our self implies finding the self that we lost. The self that was there at some point.

    So it mostly means going back in time and finding that self that we call “self”, as in who we are is not a self.

  38. brandon says:

    I am sincerely glad I have found this article! I will try not to be to long with my comments, but I need to say something somewhere. The last couple of job and career pursuits over the course of seven years (mental health, paralegal, govt work) has been nothing short of dreadful. After each time ending up in an experience that was seemingly traumatizing, I never wanted to do work again. The last permanent job I had was four years ago and my last anytime job was about three years ago. My wife, having a good, steady job have not really suffered financially, but I have felt like I have lived in the storm gutter with no prospects. With desperation, I choose physical therapist assistant school b/c I had been injured and treated a few times and was interested in learning how to heal myself, although I had no real passion for being a PTA.

    Now most of the positives about being physical therapist assistant have seemed to disappear being replaced by doubt, disinterest, and uncertainty about having chosen this path.

    But Scott, after reading your article, I realize that I am searching to hard for the passion to guide me through the uncertainty, which is a horrifying thought. Instead of letting go and focusing on the really cool things I can learn, not only in the program but also about going through this experience. The negatives at times just seem to outweigh the positives. Instead of trying to paint the big picture before it is completed, maybe I need to look more at the starting the first paint stroke.(Hopefully that made sense)

    Thanks again Scott :)

  39. Dave says:

    You said that “you can still enjoy the hell out of the ride” but what if there is more suffering or negativeness or whatever you wana call bad things in your life than enjoy ing the hell out of the ride.

  40. Laura says:

    Hello everyone, priestandrew91@yahoo.com helped me out when i thought my life is lost don’t know where its going……… It all started when the father of my two kids left me and sworn never to have anything to do with me and all effort to get him back prove to be abortive and i decided to let things be the way they are cause i felt my life is lost don’t know where its going. But Priest Andrew came into the picture and things turned out to be how i have ever wanted it to be……….I will forever be grateful to him for the rest of my life, Am so happy!!!!!!!!!! Laura

  41. Jane says:

    Thanks for this blog. It’s just what I needed!!!

  42. PolleoNitesco says:

    The article was a good read and was well written. There was only one mistake I noticed in the last sentence where “you’re” was used instead of “your”.

    Although I enjoyed reading this, I do not entirely agree with where you’re coming from. I studied computer engineering, without really know what I was getting into. Lead by the “security” in jobs and economic status it offered, and the normal speeches on the importance of “money” given by my parents, I managed to survive and graduate. My insomnia and eating problems started while studying, I never felt happy. At the bottom of my heart I always knew I wouldn’t be happy doing this for a living, but I carried on because I did not want to let anyone down. Plus, I wasn’t sure what I would be doing. During the years in the university I started writing and recording music on the side, getting in bands, starting blogs, and doing things that actually got me excited. In fact, anything would get me more excited than going to class. I dreaded it, I couldn’t sleep ( I’m talking one hour or two hours of sleep per day if I was lucky) or eat right because of the high stress and demand of the courses, tests, and projects. The sleeping disorder has carried on way beyond college years, into my year where I attempted to have a “normal” life working and paying bills like any “adult”. It never clicked with me, I started spending way too much money on things I didn’t need just to feel something, some kind of reward for so much hard work. If you’re actually doing something you love, your reward must be natural, not forced. It should NOT be artificial. You shouldn’t have to convince yourself that your feeling successful or realized. It should just come to you, you should feel chills down your spine every time you do what you do ( or at least the majority of times ).

    I noticed how unhappy I was, everyone did. My girlfriend at the time did, broke up with me. Between not sleeping, having to drive for hours to go into a quiet, cold office to do something I hated for 9plus hours, having meaningless meetings, countless “coffee breaks” just to escape work, finding ways to relax during work hours ( bringing stress relief tools to your desk, trying to decorate it to make it feel more “homey”… I mean, I REALLY tried ), feelings of depression and many more things, it became too much. So I quit the job. Needless to say, they didn’t want me to go because I was good at it, but then again you can become good at anything without really enjoying it. Humans adapt, but adapting and surviving is not the same as living. At least not to the fullest.

    I’ve heard it all. “Happiness is a state of mind” , “It’s not a destination, is something you consciously decide” blablabla. It’s wrong, they are wrong. You can tell yourself anything you want so you can go to sleep in the night, but if you keep smacking the alarm clock in the mornings for those precious five more minutes of sleep, EVERY -morning then something is really wrong. You can consciously decide to be POSITIVE about something, but that’s not the same as being happy. You can decide to put on a mask and smile all the time ( like my ex used to do ), but that’s not happiness. It doesn’t mean a thing if you’re going straight down into a pit, deeper and deeper. If you feel bad, you just HAVE to change your life. You Just HAVE to.

    After all this, I joined bands, played live, wrote books and music. And could actually try maaaaany things I had to put off because I had no time and being unhappy just drains your energy completely. Now, I am certainly not happy, but I feel so much prouder about myself. Doing a live show and being paid 60 bucks made me feel more complete and successful than busting my ass off for hours to no end to get a fat paycheck at the end of two weeks. And I know, this does not pay the debts, well, I made sure to not have many so this doesn’t harm me. I do not need to have a steady income right now… In fact, unless you have someone to take care of, no one REALLY NEEDS a steady income. You just WANT it. Just as much as you WANT that new ipod, that trip to somewhere, that new car, those clothes. Have nowhere to stay? Crash at your friends, a family member that lives in some other country, hostels are very cheap in some countries. There is always an alternative.

    You NEED a vision, you need to know yourself and the things you love. Because you just won’t be able to be the best version of yourself unless you do those things constantly. If you’re artistic theres no excuse in this era to not create and share it with the world, and if you need your own place to be able to create, there are always part time jobs you can use to pay the rent and food. But without a vision what will you do? Work endlessly until you are too old to really care about taking any risks? And now you have a wife and kids and nephews and graduations and weddings and mortgages and and and and… There just won’t be any more room to take chances ! Grumpy old man/woman in process !

    The only thing I don’t regret from college/work was the people I met. And I had some opportunities arise from those people I met. But without knowing myself and what I love ( the “purpose” or whatever you may call it ) I wouldn’t know how to take advantage of those opportunities. HELL, I WOULDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT THEY WERE OPPORTUNITIES TO BEGIN WITH!

    Don’t walk down a path blindly, skipping around with that “false joy”. Try a lot of things. I am surrounded by friends and family who have the same exact life. Work on weekdays, video games on the nights and going out with their fiancees/girlfriends on the weekends. All of them have confessed to me that they are not happy. That they know they could be doing so much in life. And that they respect me and wish they could do what I did, but they are already tied up in too many things to get out. They let their lives be lead by a person or by a material reward rather than by a personal and intimate goal.

    Yes, feel happy about small victories. But also keep an eye open to what you’re drawn to. What keeps coming back into your life. That one thing you just can’t live without. And try it. No excuses. Just try, see what happens. There’s too many people in this world who are out of place, don’t be another one.

    It probably boils down to education, both from families and schools. The school system ( for the most part, I’ve seen some great schools that REALLY broaden students’ minds in many many topics and abilities )… are just training facilities where they just induce the “fact” that waking up at a certain hour doing something all day and then having just a couple of hours to yourself to actually do something you enjoy, is the life that you SHOULD and WILL have.

    I could go on forever…

  43. Daniel says:

    I think society simply doesn’t appreciate a person without a mission, even the simplest one.

    I’ve built great wealth through stock trading, and there is zero appreciation from society and feeling of emptiness in me. I can do whatever I want all day for the rest of my life, but without a mission, I feel ‘empty’. Better sort this out.

    If anyone ever watched movie ‘Live!’, where a TV show of 6 participants play a game of Russian roulette where 5 survive and receive $1m each, and 1 dies.

    I don’t know if I’m the only one who noticed, and if that was a deliberate move by movie makers, but the person who died was the only one without a mission in life, he just wanted to enjoy life, to get $1m to surf and travel all day. While the 5 who survived had a very clear mission, whether it’s save their family or get publicized for their written novels.

    Even the audience wasn’t dissapointed, there was a moment of silence and shock, after which everyone applauded, like ‘phew’, we all hoped it would be this guy.

    This is as simple as that, society automatically exiles people who don’t contribute, and that is the worst kind of thing for a human.

    I think we all need a mission, no matter how big or small it is.

  44. J Sen Gupta says:

    Hello Scott,
    Going through your views, I see that though you mention that “You do not have a life purpose” but as I read through the post, I see that you had a clear purpose “To experiment with life but continuously strive to do the things that you like and gave a sense of accomplishment and in the process strengthen your positives to bring out the best within you and in the process contribute to make the world better”.
    A purpose which reads” Will strive to bring out the best within me” is one of the most grand purpose that one can live by.
    I am sure this very purpose made each of your day meaningful and gave you the strength to learn from your failures and success and become stronger to achieve and manifest the best within you.
    My request advise your followers the truth, if any, that I share with you, so that they do not feel comfortable in life of mediocracy, which is the worst curse on humanity.
    Best wishes,
    J Sen Gupta
    India
    jsgconsultants@yahoo.co.in

  45. Nice post.
    For most of us, it may take ages to figure out what the purpose in life is and many of us may never find it at all. It does not mean that in absence of a greater cause or life purpose, one cannot have find meaning in life. Pursuit of a passion or living by a philosophy gives people something to look forward to.

  46. Mayukh says:

    I totally agree Scott. The race for ambition, to become something, being drilled into our heads from the day since we were born, is perhaps what fucks us up the most.

    Life’s about being happy, being with people you love being with, and doing things that excite and stimulate you.

    One fails to imagine, if there was no money and we had to forage and hunt, would we be really thinking about our purpose in life? So I think that this drive for a purpose is a by product of our highly modern, commercialized and complected lives. With so much efficiency and no physical exertion the mind gets bored. As the saying goes, “an empty mind is the devil’s workshop”. And the urge to find a “Purpose” in life, IS THE devil’s game!

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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