The Power Of Purpose
What is it that gets you excited about life? Why do you wake up each morning and perform the repetitive activities you do each day? Is it simply out of routine? Are you operating your life just to pass the time?
Is there any deeper reason for what you do on a daily basis other than the surface-level fact that you’re alive?
If you function on autopilot, having placed little thought into the reasoning or driving force behind your actions, then it’s no surprise if anxiety, depression, procrastination, lack of motivation, or any other mental challenge have entered your life.
The opposite of this is a life full of meaning. One that operates off a vision of the future. A large idea you are aspiring towards, fueling motivation and creating a reason for what you do each day.
What I am referring to here is something known as purpose. Having purpose in your life is powerful. It provides relief from many mindset challenges and allows you to live meaningfully every single day.
Purpose is not something only a few people are lucky enough to have been born with. No, purpose is something we all can and must create.
By the end of this article, we will uncover how you can find purpose in your life. And by doing so, alleviate any mental struggles you may be facing. But first, let’s take a look at how detrimental lack of purpose is on your mind.
Negative Impact Lack Of Purpose Has On Your Mind
Have you ever stopped and thought about the larger purpose of your life?
To be honest, this can be a scary territory to venture into, since thinking about the reason for our lives forces us to come face to face with the temporary nature of our existence.
However, I would argue a lack of purpose weighs far more heavily on the mind than the much-needed blunt truth that our lives are not permanent.
First off, what do I mean by no purpose?
Saying you lack purpose means there is no large ideal you are striving for. No goal or ambition you’ve set for yourself that drives your behavior on a daily basis. The beautiful part about purpose is that not one of ours needs to be the same as someone else’s.
Though what is necessary is for all of us to decide on a purpose, a reason for our lives, otherwise many unwelcomed forms of thought are invited into our minds.
Lack Of Purpose Fuels Anxious Thinking
When referring to anxiety, what we are talking about is a mind that has drifted into the future, concerned over the possibility of what may happen.
Now, anxiety doesn’t form from worrying about what may happen in a positive sense, but rather a negative one.
A mind filled with anxious thoughts is focused mainly on the idea of what might happen if an event or situation does not go the way you would like. If you knew for certain how something would turn out, there would be no need for anxiety.
So how does purpose, or a lack thereof, drive anxiety?
Thinking in an anxious way is a habit. One that forms from repetitively finding yourself in a state of worry. What happens when you don’t have any purpose is, you grow worried and concerned over what you should do. Are you wasting your time, and blah blah blah.
Strong purpose in your life, knowing the meaning of your activities each day leads to a confidence within knowing that you are working towards your goals. You are using the time allotted to you in a productive way, aimed at an idea you have deemed meaningful.
"A mind filled with anxious thoughts is focused mainly on the idea of what might happen if an event or situation does not go the way you would like. If you knew for certain how something would turn out, there would be no need for anxiety."
Where There’s No Meaning, There’s No Motivation
Wanting to attain success in your athletic, performance, or professional life is fantastic. But what’s needed to accomplish such success is action. And action requires motivation to get yourself working!
Do you think if you have no idea why you do what you do, why you’re putting forth the effort that you are, that motivation is going to be easy to sustain?
Yeah, maybe you watched a motivational video or attended a talk and now you’re all gung-ho about working towards a goal. But, if the action is not backed by a meaningful purpose you have outlined, you’ll easily back out at the first sign of adversity or hardship.
Purpose provides us with grit. That sense of perseverance which is a must in life. We’re all going to get knocked down by life at some point, working to derail our sense of motivation.
If you have no purpose I promise you, giving in will be the best option. However, if your life is backed by a deep sense of what you’re striving for and why, well then getting back on your feet will be even easier.
Depression Feeds Off A Lack Of Why
Depression is a scary word for all of us. Falling into the deep dark abyss of the perpetual sadness that is depression is something everyone seeks to avoid. If you find yourself with no purpose, I hate to say it, but you are doing little to keep depression from falling heavily upon you.
To highlight how depression is fed by a lack of purpose, I think it’s best to illustrate my own experience on the subject.
Like many people, I’ve had bouts of depression, with some lasting longer than others. The one commonality between all the times I feel myself sinking into this struggle is a lack of direction.
Direction is provided by purpose. When it seemed as though I was unsure as to what to do next in my life, or whether or not I was on the right path, depressive thoughts were always quick to form.
The reason I believe a lack of purpose results in depression deals with the question I’m sure has crossed all our minds at some point or another (or at least some form of the question): “What’s the point to all of this?”
This can be as deep or surface level as you’d like. For me, it’s been both. I’ve thought about this on a small scale in terms of the school I was attending or job I was working on, and also on a large scale in terms of life as a whole.
It’s a scary and difficult question I feel a lot of us try to suppress, but one I think highlights the importance of purpose.
By finding purpose in your life, you create that meaning! You get to answer that question, and by doing so, provide a sense of purpose that starves depression out of your life.
Different Levels Of Purpose
What does purpose mean to you?
In this article so far, I’ve addressed the negative impact a lack of purpose has on your life. But what exactly does it mean for you or me to have purpose?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines purpose as follows:
Why you do something or why something exists.
I must say, that is very well said. The reason being, it breaks down purpose into two different levels. This is very important as you will soon learn in utilizing the power of purpose in your life.
We can take this definition and separate purpose into two different levels: purpose on a small scale and your larger purpose.
Small Scaled Purpose
Why you do something.
These words, used by the Cambridge Dictionary to define purpose highlight the essence of purpose on a small scale. This form of deeper meaning answers the question, why do you do what you do?
Why do you wake up each morning and exercise? What drives you to work daily at your job? Why is it that you take your significant other out to dinner, or cook for them at home?
All of these questions are answered by deciding on the purpose behind your actions. For the most part, the purpose of these small-scale activities will be guided by your larger purpose.
A Larger Purpose For Being
Now we come to the second aspect of the definition: why something exists.
This can be viewed from a few different angles. We could be talking about the existence of a goal you have, the existence of a business or sport you play, or on a much deeper level, your existence for being here.
The larger purpose you operate from acts as a guide, leading you down the path of life. Your purpose may include a set of virtues, be an ideal goal/vision, or a target you strive to achieve.
Think of this larger purpose as the base of a tree, from which all other areas of your life branch out. Finding this sort of meaning is beautiful, providing you with extraordinary direction in your life.
So now the question becomes, how do you find purpose?
"The larger purpose you operate from acts as a guide, leading you down the path of life. Your purpose may include a set of virtues, be an ideal goal/vision, or a target you strive to achieve."
How To Build A Strong Mind Through Purpose
As you saw in the last section, purpose provides your life with meaning and direction. Landing on a larger purpose guides your daily actions and choices, making the purpose behind each activity easier to pinpoint.
With the negative impact a lack of purpose has on your mind, likewise a strong sense of meaning will equip you with a resilient and strong mindset.
This comes through the cultivation of purpose in your life. When you start living your days with meaning, working for a larger why, you grow more motivated, experience increased joy, and feel fulfilment through the progress towards that purpose.
Luckily, purpose is not something a few people are lucky enough to stumble upon. The meaning of your life, and the deciding factor behind your actions, as far as I can tell is up to you. Just as my why is up to me.
This wonderful fact can also be terrifying and daunting if we start to believe nothing has purpose. It’s not that life is void of all purpose, quite the opposite in fact. What life is, especially your life if you’ve yet to identify meaning, is a clean canvas.
One that is desperately begging you to paint on some purpose. That is exactly what we are going to accomplish through these next three steps. By the end, you will have a solid foundation of meaning in your life.
Step #1: Find Your Larger Purpose
Here’s an exciting exercise for you to do (although it can be kind of eerie so be cautious). This is an activity I read in a book a while back and it really stuck out to me. I can’t remember which book it was, all I know is the activity is powerful.
Alright, what you want to do is take yourself to the end of your life. Travel a little ways past your old age where you’re sitting in a rocking chair talking to your grandchildren. A little bit farther, keep going, okay good, you’ve made it. You’re at your funeral.
Look, I told you it would get eerie.
Now that you’ve reached your funeral, you have the honor of crafting the eulogy. What is it you want to be remembered for? What actions, goals, and accomplishments do you want others to associate with your name after your passing?
I know it’s not fun to think of our own death, however, doing so provides you with intense clarity (at least in myself I find this to be true). Facing my own mortality helps me cut out the clutter of daily life and realize the true purpose behind my actions.
When you decide on what you wish to be remembered for, you have found your purpose. If done correctly, that should give you a clear meaning of what you wish to accomplish in your lifetime. Now it’s time to get to work.
"When you decide on what you wish to be remembered for, you have found your purpose. If done correctly, that should give you a clear meaning of what you wish to accomplish in your lifetime. Now it’s time to get to work."
Step #2: What’s The Meaning Behind Your Goals?
Once you have a large purpose outlined, it acts as a guide in crafting goals. The goals you set in your life should align with the purpose you defined in step number one.
Your goals should be centered around the meaning you wish to have in your life. Why would you set a goal and work towards it if there was absolutely no relation between it and your life’s purpose?
Approaching goal setting through the lens of purpose helps to cut the useless and superficial goals that get in the way of your ultimate desire.
So from now on, set goals with intent. Be purposeful in your goal setting, and each time you decide on a new target, ask yourself, “Is this helping me achieve my larger purpose in life?”
Step #3: What’s Your Purpose For Crawling Out Of Bed?
Some people may say having a purpose every single day will be tiresome. Aren’t there times when we can slack off and simply enjoy being lazy?
My answer to this is yes, absolutely. But you know what? Being lazy, resting, lying on the beach for the day, that all is backed by purpose. Your purpose that day is to be lazy or it is to rest!
The beautiful part about transitioning purpose into our daily lives is it helps to counteract many of the negative effects described earlier. Not only that, but it provides each of us with a much needed sense of responsibility.
If I want to wake up, lounge around and accomplish nothing all day, that’s okay, as long as that was my purpose for the day. When we act out of meaning, no matter what we do that day, we shouldn’t then feel guilty, anxious, or depressed.
Why would I feel anxious about not working if my purpose that day was to rest?
This is what I mean by approaching each day with meaning. What I like to do is, every night before going to bed I outline my goals for the following day. These goals act as my purpose. It will be the intent of my actions to accomplish them.
By doing so, I generate direction and I give myself much needed meaning on a daily basis. So for yourself, what is your purpose today?
Such a simple word but the depths of the questions it spawns within our minds are endless. Why do you do what you do? What is the meaning and purpose behind your actions?
When left unchecked, this small word can have catastrophic consequences on our lives. That’s why, identifying purpose and meaning in your life is vital.
Once you identify your larger purpose, craft goals that align with it, and live each day in a meaningful way, you will be well on your way to unlocking the full power of purpose.
I know it’s a deep subject, but I would love to know your purpose, even if it’s simply the meaning of your day today. If you’re courageous enough, please let me know your purpose in the comments below.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me. Also, share this post with others so they can learn the power of purpose.
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.
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