What Is Your Life Purpose??

Not a week goes by that I don’t have a conversation with one of my peers on the topic of life purpose.

And you would be shocked at the number of people who are successful and appear happy, but confess that they feel worthless, or as though they have no purpose.

What’s more, this feeling affects their self worth, and they feel undeserving of happiness, love, a healthy income, or anything that would improve their life situation.

(I often see this manfiested in folks who feel that they don’t “have enough information” in order to start a business, take a risk, or make something happen. What they actually lack is a sense of worth or purpose.)

I seem to attract these folks – or, more specifically, I can identify them – because I, too, have spent many sleepless nights worried that I would never amount to anything… that I would never find “my purpose.”

Every week, the topic invariably is brought up by someone I know who seems to have it all.  It came up recently while sitting on the couch with a girl who I adore, yet she felt as though she was wearing a mask most of the time. It was loud and clear while taking a class at Second City; I spent time with a young man who everybody wanted to be around, yet he confessed to me that he felt insignificant, trapped, and depressed.

Why do all of us, even the seemingly successful, often feel as though we don’t matter, or aren’t enough?  

For me, people looked at my life and assumed that I had it all. Two years ago, at my absolute emotional bottom, I was with the love of my life (at the time), had five years’ expenses in the bank, and had the time and freedom to do whatever I wanted. Yes, and I was still at my emotional bottom. Why? Because I felt as though I had no purpose behind my life, so none of it mattered. 

Yet those around me thought I had it all. Indeed, what I have noticed is that, more often than not, the person who feels totally purposeless is usually seen as a hero to his or her peers. He is the “funny guy” or the “businessperson.” She is the “pretty girl,” or the “artist.” In a moment, I’ll explain why these labels are part of the problem.

At the same time, we tend look at our peers or celebrities we admire and assume that they have something that we don’t. Or, we assume that they must be secure or feel significant. However, if my “findings” are true, then almost every single one of us have a part of us that is secretly scared of never being enough.

It is no surprise that the most successful people in the world often have drug abuse or other problems – because they got what they thought they wanted, only to find that it did not give them purpose. Heck, the #1 chorus in the country right now asks, “What do I stand for? Most nights, I don’t know anymore.

The good news? If EVERYONE is afraid of the same thing, then NONE of us need to fear it any longer.

Dispelling The Myth Of “Doing” Something 

There is a strong temptation, especially among Americans, to mistake our purpose with what we “do.” (You could also substitute “do” with “achieve” or “earn.”)

The truth is, purpose is completely separate from what we do. For example, my dream is to one day own a Major League Baseball team. And crazy as it sounds, there were dark days in my life that I felt as though I was WORTHLESS because I did not currently own a team. I had confused what I wanted to do (or achieve) with my purpose, and until I had “fulfilled my purpose,” I was worth nothing.

Under the guidance of this lie, we tend to think that someTHING will “fix” us by making us “feel” purposeful. When we earn a million dollars, THEN we will be happy. If I move across the country, THEN I will find my purpose.

For a lot of folks that I encounter, the temptation is to believe that we have to DO something “big” in order to feel purposeful. For some, that means moving to a new city – maybe you’re purpose is there. For others, it is to get promoted to CEO. And sadly, for many men, it is to sleep with a certain girl, or more often, many girls. Or for women, to feel desired by a certain man, or many men.

When we “do” these things, they seem to fill us up for a short time. We get temporary pleasure, escape, or fulfillment from them. However, they have nothing to do with purpose. It wasn’t until I read “A New Earth” that I realized that all these temporary pleasures did was serve our own selfishness.

Yes, I travel a lot. Yes, I am a CEO. But neither of them are my purpose. We’ll get to that next.

It is possible to build a career around your purpose, but for most people, how we earn our money will not perfectly align with our purpose. Those who are the exception are extremely blessed. I believe that it is more realistic to build our purpose into what we do.

Discovering Your Purpose and Living It Out 

Every now and then, I get glimpses of my purpose. I know that I get them because I feel a tremendous sense of contribution as a result. When you feel that, you are getting a glimpse of your purpose.

I feel it strongest after having a conversation with a man who is being less than he wants to be, and something that I say inspires him. I feel it when someone tells me that they now understand what freedom really means and requires. I feel it when someone is touched by something that I wrote. (PS, this is why I blog.)

Let me be clear that the actions themselves are not purpose. Instead, purpose is what you ARE, rather than what you do.

Purpose = What You Decide To REPRESENT 

Do not confuse “be” with “do.” In fact, I think we harm children when we ask them, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?” What a ridiculous question, unless, of course, the child says something akin to, “An honorable, inspiration, giving, loving, outrageous man.”

Also, do not confuse BE with external labels that we put on ourselves. If a girl has been told that she is a “pretty girl” for most of her life, it is likely that she will begin to identify with it. For me, I was the “funny guy” or the “business genius.” These are all labels that we confuse as our purpose, except that the minute someone is funnier, more successful, prettier, happier, more spiritual, you name it, suddenly we feel inferior. Our “purpose” is being threatened if it is confused with the labels that people have put on us.

We are not the labels we put on ourselves, and we are not the voices in our head. We are who we decide to BE.

What you ARE has nothing to do with what you DO, and especially what you do for money. However, I do believe that it is possible to incorporate your purpose into what you do in both your work and on a daily basis.

How To Live Out Your Purpose In Your Life 

When I get glimpses of my purpose, I write them down (journaling has been the most impactful thing that I have done for my growth as a human being). This week, while on a plane, I took note of the things that I am beginning to see make up my purpose. They are as follows:

  • to lead as an example for personal freedom and soveriengty
  • to demonstrate to others that anything is possible
  • to make other people laugh and brighten their spirit
  • to encourage men to rise up, awaken, and be more
  • to fight for unity among beings
  • to be a model for physical health
  • to emanate consciousness.

This is, of course, a running list, and some will be added and taken out as time goes on. But take notice that none of it has anything to do with my work or what I do on a regular basis. That is because your purpose infiltrates all areas of your life, and it can be present in all that you do.

Note that this is quite different from concluding that “my purpose is to be an actor” or “my purpose is to feed children in Africa.” While admirable, these are achievements, not purposes. You can tell the difference because they require you to actively do something. If you are not acting, or if you’re not feeding children, are you missing out on your purpose? No, you just have confused what your purpose really is.  

Under this lens, you can begin to live your purpose every day, no matter where you are or what you are doing. Furthermore, you can make decisions according to your purpose, rather than hoping that your purpose just shows up.

While I am still figuring this all out myself, I do believe that I have one thing down:

Your purpose is who you decide to BE, rather than what you do. And who you are infiltrates everything, regardless of what you do.

Being a millinoaire is not your purpose. Winning a gold medal is not your purpose. Curing cancer is not your purpose. None of them are purposes in and of themselves.

If you are like many of my peers who are struggling with purpose, there are two things that you can do:

  1. Create a list of character traits that you want to embody.
  2. Make a list of things that excite your and fire you up, or that you feel passionate about.

Your purpose begins there, and you can incorporate and practice them in every day tasks, even among the mundane.

There is a reason why my business is branded as “freedom” rather than “make money.” First, most of the “make money” people on the internet are slimeballs, and second, because I believe that part of my purpose is to inspire and embody freedom. This puts purpose into my work, even though the work itself has changed very little.

If you feel as though you have missed your calling because you didn’t go down a certain path or made the right decision, you have misunderstood what purpose really is. Your purpose goes with you regardless of what decision you make or who you are with.

There is a part of you that is indestructible, that is constant, that has value that never changes, regardless of how much you earn or achieve or do. When you recognize it, then a peace that arises within you.

May you experience this peace, recognize your own value, and discover your purpose.

Facebook comments:

16 thoughts on “What Is Your Life Purpose??

  1. Hey Ryan…I’m busy at work but stopped to read this blog post because less than 30 minutes ago I was thinking about the same thing. Your post is well written and will definitely make people think.

    As for me, my purpose has always been pretty clear and that has helped me in not only pushing forward in life but keeping a certain peace of mind no matter what happens. A story I read today about the founder of the Beanie Baby empire best illustrates how I think on almost a daily basis in terms of my personal purpose.

    Thanks for a great read. Let’s talk soon.

    Eli

    Beanie baby founder gives $20K to a stranger… http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/billionaire-ty-warner-gives-woman-20-000-her-165731962.html

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Ryan, awesome article! You are exactly right, to BE and to DO are two very different things but most of the time get mixed up with each other.

    Cheers!

  3. Great post. It is time for me to let go of doing being so important and acknowledge myself for who I am, my values and let that determine what I chose to do. Having joy in being ourselves can be enough.

  4. thank you for articulating this very simple but difficult subject. you are absolutely correct in saying that being a millionaire does not make you a happy person.

  5. Purpose is inherently profound or spiritual, if you will. Outside of and larger than self. Our accomplishments or enjoyment are really just “perks of our purpose”. We get to enjoy them because of our being (here) for a purpose. When we cross or confuse our purpose with “perks” we will hit a roadblock :( But our purpose is accomplished through us regardless of our enjoyment or accomplishments :) .

  6. Thank you Ryan for the wisdom you have shared and your courage in declaring your commitment to being your purpose. I was investigating your programs with cynicism resulting from so many “earn money online” programs that promise instant wealth, and just take my limited resources for no real achievement. It was your definition of freedom that kept me connected.

    And now you have affirmed for me that you have a sense of who you really are, and what life is really about and I find that remarkable and exciting for someone of your age. I laughed with joy when you mentioned “New Earth”, a book I have read at least 3 times and consider it to be my life reference material, especially when times are tough. I know where you are coming from, and your blog to share this with others was just the confirmation I needed to keep my focus on purpose, rather than earning money.

    Congratulations, you write with intelligence and empathy.

  7. What a fantastic post Ryan..I felt as though I got to know you in there.
    You seem like a young man who is wide awake… and if you do “represent” the things you put in your list of purposes, then you would be doing exactly what Jesus would do, and continues to do, by anyones interpretation of the bible. Never have I posted a reply with a reference to Jesus but felt compelled because at least one other comment implied you are on the wrong path…quite the contrary I believe. Anyone whose purpose embodies that list..Is someone I should like to know.
    Peace & Respect
    CW

  8. What a great post Ryan!
    Just reading it “What Is Your Life Purpose” reminded me too Jesus, He’s purpose was to fulfill the work that God had asked of Him and thro that had great peace, eventho He had some horrible experiences. I feel we all have a void in our lives that we are trying to fill, but we are filling them with things that are only temporary. Nothing lasts just like a junkie waiting for the next hit. Its the same thing, temporaty satsifaction, then all over! We need to dig deeper and deeper to get to our true purpose in life, for it is not in surface living – the shallowness of it all. All ends at the grave. One of my best friends was dying of cancer was just about to be a millionaire, but she said what is the good of it for it wont give me life! So sad, she just lived for the flesh. Had nothing to go onto after this life. This post just fitted into my thoughts today. Never posted anything like this before and hope no one gets offended by it (it’s each to their own), but a thank you for your post. Meant a lot to me today.

  9. All I can say is WOW! Thanks for this post. It is so sad that so many people struggle so much in realizing what their purpose is.

    I’ve not had that problem. I was taught from a young age what it is and I accept it wholeheartedly: Service is the key. To serve most fully, I must be free. I must be free so that God can communicate with me and point me to where and how I can best serve. Jesus is the example I look to in determining how to serve.

    My motto is: I work to live and I live to serve.
    Helping others is truly the only meaningful way to experience joy and fulfillment.

    This life is just a speck in our existence. What we accumulate here stays here when we move on. What we learn and experience and who we have become goes on with us.

    Thanks for so eloquently expressing your views on the subject. I periodically trim my name from most marketers email lists, but always stay on yours. Now I understand why I do.

  10. Our purpose in life first is, to learn the principles of loving each other, the principles of patience, having harmonious health through our bodies, when these things are becoming part of us, only then we could see clearly what our purpose in life is. For instance some people eat every thing that crawls, kill and eat, as you sow so shall you reap, the killing is taking over human lives, see it and understand why we shouldn’t kill, and yet some cote the bible and it clearly said Thou Shalt not Kill “Period” so when we do the right things as mentioned above, we begin to come into a period of silence, where we can communicate with the still soft voice that we are part of, in knowing our purpose. We have to get back to where we belong, this life is only the breath of life, Eternal life is awaiting us and no matter what we do here on earth, at times we know and feel something is missing. I must also say, we have come here on different levels of understanding from a bible student to a Magi, Jesus came to show us the way back to the Father and we have to learn the route through doing the right things. Remember, what was said “Love” as the greatest of them all? When you love you listen, without criticizing. Every one has an opportunity to express themselves, God allows that with given choice so why can’t we.

    • Zilla, based on this, you may say that part of your purpose is to demonstrate love to all living things, and/or to encourage people to represent peace for animals. Good on you for knowing part of your purpose. However, to claim that we all of the same purpose would be incorrect.

  11. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve be aware your stuff previous to and you’re just too fantastic. I really like what you have bought right here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way through which you say it. You’re making it enjoyable and you still take care of to stay it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you. That is really a terrific website.

  12. You are wise beyond your years Ryan. If only the Internet was around when I was 21, but alas – the reality is I am just now just beginning to figure out my “life’s purpose” and at 62 years young you should pat yourself on the back…as I now the path to true happiness and success is narrow.

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