Why is it so damn hard to figure out your purpose in life? You would think a world filled with options and opportunities would excite you. But sometimes, having too many options can paralyze you.
You might think the following to yourself:
- What if I make the wrong choices and waste a bunch of time?
- I want better for myself, but I just don't know where to start.
- I know what I want, but I'll get started and end up quitting like I always do.
You want a better life, but fear and uncertainty keep holding you back. When you try to change your circumstances, it seems like you're climbing a mountain.
I came up with a list of 20 mistakes you might be making, which could be steering you in the wrong direction. But learning about those won't do you any good unless you start with a clean slate.
Society has ruined your life. You've been brainwashed into believing there is a correct path in life to take, brainwashed into believing you should be realistic and practical and brainwashed into conforming.
Keeping people in line fuels corporate America. Making sure people conform suits the interests of the people in power. Slowly but surely, you learned to follow the rules:
- Sit still. Be good. Behave.
- Follow the curriculum, or else you'll get a bad grade.
- Don't take any risks. Follow the safe and secure path.
Before we continue with this list, I want you to rid your mind of everything you've been told. Start from scratch.
Moving forward, you'll listen to advice and take only what you find valuable with you. No one else can decide what to do for you. They can only point you in a certain direction. Here are the mistakes you might be making while you're trying to find your purpose in life:
1. You focus on passion.
"Find something you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." Barf.
The focus on passion permeates our society. Common thinking leads you to believe passion comes first and success comes later. Wrong.
You want to know how to find passion? Get good at something. Take your natural talents and strengths, and build on them.
Competence spurs passion. Passion doesn't come first.
2. You set goals.
Success gurus across the globe tell you to bust out the old pen and paper, and write down every single little goal you can think of. I myself have been guilty of saying this. This is a great way to accomplish nothing.
Set one goal, and set a time frame to complete it. Once you reach your goal, you can move on to something else. Setting a bunch of goals spreads you too thin and keeps you from focusing.
3. You're patient.
When it comes to getting started, you spend too much time planning and analyzing. You never take action.
Then, once you do get started, your patience quickly turns to impatience. You get frustrated early on, and then you quit.
Practice patience after you find something worth committing to. Waiting for a sign in order to get started is stupid.
4. You use positive thinking.
Positive thinking is not a substitute for actual work. You watched "The Secret," and now you believe you can manifest anything with your thoughts.
Positive thinking works only when it's combined with diligent and deliberate effort. Your morning affirmations will not magically make you more purposeful.
5. You don't keep a journal.
I'm not sure why, but there's something about writing things down that makes you more creative, motivated and productive. Many of the world's most successful people have either a journal or commonplace book.
Write down your ideas, hopes, dreams and the things that inspire you. Keep a journal for six months, and your life will be 10 times better. Just trust me on this one.
6. You're grateful.
Sort of. You don't have a deep and profound sense of gratitude.
You're grateful you aren't homeless and that you have food to eat (as you should be). But, don't hide behind gratitude to rationalize the fact that you're not working toward living out your purpose.
7. You're optimistic.
But you're only positive in the short run. When things get tough, you get a tummy ache and quit.
Maybe a little bit of pessimism would serve you well. For instance, instead of being blindly optimistic about your business or project, run a pre-mortem to point out your weak spots. Then, correct them before you launch.
You need optimism in the long run, but you must be mindful of the obstacles you'll face along the way. Trust me: They're coming. Over-optimism puts you at the risk of being unable to get up after you've been knocked down.
8. You copy the habits of successful people.
You mistakenly believe that the routines themselves make these people successful. You read blog a post that said that 83 percent percent of CEOs wake up at 5 am, so you believe waking up early is the key to success.
Routines and habits are a must, but they must be built around your personality and preferences. Don't force yourself to become a morning person if you're not one.
Figure out the time of day where you do your best work, and do it at that time. Experiment with your routine until it fits.
9. You think you're smart.
You are. But maybe you're too smart for your own good. Smart people can be overconfident.
Smart people can get drunk on their own ideas. Smart people try to reinvent the wheel when it's unnecessary. Smart people try too hard to be original, instead of making an impact.
It's okay to be smart. Just don't let it blind you from the things that need to be learned and done.
10. You believe in mistakes.
That's why you read this post in the first place. You're afraid of doing the wrong thing. You're worried about looking foolish.
Don't worry about making mistakes. Worry about doing something that matters. Here are the things that are going to happen when you make the decision to work toward living out your purpose:
- It will be a little scary at first, but if you stick with it, you'll start to enjoy yourself.
- You'll start to feel passionate because you're finally doing what you want to do instead of just talking about it.
- You'll hit the dip, the moment where you're ready to quit. But, you're inches away from succeeding. If you make it through the dip, you'll become a champion.
You're never going to have it all figured out. But with time, you'll come closer to doing what you were put on this Earth to do. Finding your purpose in life takes a lot of self-awareness and experimentation. The most important part is to get started.
I'm begging you to get started. Make today your day.
You owe it to yourself. As cliched as it sounds, you only have one life to live. I want you to live it well.
I want you to live knowing that you're serving a purpose higher than your own needs. I want you to know what it feels like to toss and turn all night because you're bursting with excitement about your plans for the future.
I know you can do it, and I'm not just saying that either. I know you can do it because of the amazing things seemingly average people have done in the span of human history. They did these things when they believed in themselves, when they stopped worrying about what other people thought of them and when they felt fear (but pressed forward anyway).
Deep down, you know you can do it, too. The question is, will you?
Note: This post only contains 10 items. For the full list of 20, plus a bonus "purpose finding exercise," click here.