Day #464:The Purpose of Purpose

In business, career, and life plans, one common factor exists that determines whether such a plan is strategic or not. What is this X factor?


Most plans of any type lack purpose. Purpose is the end game you are trying to achieve. It is the “WHY” behind any plan — at least it should be.The purpose of purpose is to provide direction.

How can you tell if you have a clear purpose or not?

Here’s a simple test:

If you struggle to make a decision between two well-understood options, then most likely your purpose is unclear.

If you can’t decide between two job offers even after researching them thoroughly, then most likely your purpose is unclear.

If you can’t decide between living in two different cities, even after understanding both options, then most likely your purpose is not clear.

When you have purpose, decisions become surprisingly easy.

You pick the option that gets you closer to your end game. When your end game is clear (extremely clear), the decision is usually obvious.A clear purpose helps enormously in identifying alternative and often unconventional ways to achieve your purpose.

I once remember Tony Robbins talking about one of his exclusive retreats in Fiji. Tony was taking a walk on a nearby beach when he ran into an old man who lived nearby all his life. The old man asked why all of these foreigners were in Fiji learning from Tony.Tony responded that they were there to take control of their financial lives and to build wealth. And the local man asked, “Why?”

“So they can accumulate assets, to generate income without having to work.”The old man responded, “And why do they want to do that?”

“So someday they can stop working entirely, and retire, and spend every day at the beach.” In response, the old man said, “Well I’m not rich, I’ve worked all my life, and I’ve spent at least part of every day at the beach for my entire life.”

Isn’t that a thought provoking dialog?

When it comes to careers, most people are wedded to “The Path” — common popular career paths such as consulting, investment banking, law, medicine, etc.There’s nothing fundamentally right or wrong with these paths. Whether these paths are good choices depends in large part on each individual’s purpose.

So what do you do when you don’t have a sense of purpose that is all your own? How do you figure out what you want out of yourlife?Often this happens to people who have spent their whole lives based on what others (parents, siblings, peers) want for their lives.

If this describes you, here are a few tools you might find helpful.

1) If you don’t know what you want, then you damn well better know what you do not want (and at a minimum stop focusing there).

2) If you don’t know what you want, it helps enormously to invest time in exploring a wide range of options. Go visit people (older people in similar careers you want to pursue will help with this) and see what a day in their lives looks like. You might not find out what you want, but you will most certainly figure out what you do notwant.

3) Keep asking yourself what you want, even if each time you ask, you don’t get an answer.


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