“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it.” — Benjamin Button
What’s my purpose? I’m sure it’s a question that’s crossed your mind at least once. It crosses my mind to this day. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
While on the search, I’ve done a lot. I worked in account management for a Fortune 100 company, and a Silicon Valley startup. I’ve done freelance work, where I’ve taught myself to make videos and how to write engaging content. I’ve started an eCommerce business creating delicious spices and cooking videos. I’ve even invited strangers to my house, rearranged my apartment like a restaurant, and cooked for them.
If that’s not enough, I worked for Caviar, delivering meals on my bike when I lived in San Fransisco. It was fun, except when I had to dart across the city which boasts a lengthy seven miles to deliver Thai food at 1 a.m. Needless to say, I have buns of steel. I’ve had so many jobs, you’d think I was Jamaican.
I don’t share this to boast. All this experience and I still am no closer to finding my purpose.
What Is Your Purpose?
Maybe your purpose is seeking purpose and never finding it. Maybe you found your purpose already. If you did, you’re lucky.
However, I don’t believe we have a preordained all-encompassing purpose. We are alive for a short period of time, and during that time our life is filled with meaning and meaningless things.
The purpose may be just seeking those things that give us meaning.
I don’t find too much meaning in brushing my teeth. However, when I floss, I obtain superhuman powers strong enough to crack DaVinci’s code or the String Theory.
All jokes aside, hopefully, you get my drift. Spending time with loved ones definitely ranks high on the purpose meter, while the latest Avenger flick may be a dose of entertainment to abstain from boredom. We all battle with these dichotomies, and that’s okay.
I still believe we owe it to ourselves to find the thing or things that give us purpose. The purpose is the matchstick that lights progress into action, and progress is what gives us depth and meaning.
Below are three morbid questions to ask yourself that can help in finding purpose.
What Would You Want to Be Said at Your Funeral?
Imagine being present at your funeral. You aren’t sad. In fact, you’re laughing because you know everyone will be joining you one day. However, after crossing over to the other side you understand your earthly existence was a once-in-a-lifetime blessing, and you kinda blew it.
Now imagine, that Saint Peter gave you a get-out-of-life free card and received a second chance at life. You’re able to do everything over. With this newfound knowledge, what would you want others to say about you at your second go at death?
Deep down inside, we do care about what others think of us. It’s the litmus test, that gives credence to our lives. Asking this question can help you shape your purpose, or refine the one you already have.
What if Brad Pitt Had a Gun to Your Head, and Finding Your Purpose Meant Saving Your Life?
If you’ve seen the cult classic, Fight Club, then you know what I mean. If you haven’t, then brace yourself because a major spoiler alert is coming.
Brad Pitt plays Ed Norton’s alter ego, and soap salesman, a job I hear is in demand. Anyway, they both go to a convenience store and hold the cashier at gunpoint. Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden makes him quit his job in order to pursue his dream of becoming a veterinarian. He holds the cashier’s license as ransom so he can track him and kill him if he’s not on his way to fulfilling his real dream within six weeks.
Now for any sane person, a scene like this may cause some serious PTSD, but it begs the question, what if?
What if this were real, and your life depended on finding your purpose. How much urgency would you put towards it?
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” — Charles Darwin
Although we don’t know exactly what happens when we die, we can all agree that our lives are precious. The probability of your existing is 1 in 10²,685,000. For those of you unfamiliar with scientific notation, that’s 10 followed by almost 2.7 million zeros.
What if the Death Star Was Pointed at Earth, and Humanity and Everything on Our Planet Rested on Your Shoulders?
For you not familiar with Star Wars, the Death Star is the Galactic Empire’s (evil side), greatest weapon, a moon-sized space station with the ability to destroy an entire planet.
Imagine if Darth Vador, the Chief Enforcer of the Empire had the Death Star at target range ready to incinerate everything on Earth, including Grogu (baby Yoda), and finding your purpose was the only thing that could save the world, what would you do?
Now, this may seem a bit dramatic, because the likely hood of something like this happening is slim, and although my story may seem overboard, your view of how you look at existence is in fact your world. What you do in your world matters.
- If I see a person stranded on the road, I’ll ask myself, “if not me, then who.”
- If I am unhappy at work and too many days go by, I’ll ask myself, “why not find something better?
- If I’m upset at the world “I’ll ask myself,” if you seek joy, your attitude isn’t going to cut it. You hold the key to how you want your world to feel.”
In hindsight, how you see the world rests on your shoulder. Maybe you’re not saving the planet from mass extinction, but your world is being shaped by you moment to moment.
It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. Seeking your purpose, or refining it, is something that will undergo many changes in the course of our lives. What was important to you 10 years ago has probably changed, and that will inevitably change as well.
The questions brought up today have helped me think clearly about the intentions I bring to the gift of living. Death is the final anecdote of life’s story. It’s the transition to a destination where the exact coordinates are unknown. Yet, it’s precisely the ultimate reason to do anything.
I hope what you’re looking for is looking for you too.