Three Hard Steps to Avoiding a Purposeless Driven Life

Part 2 of 4 in the series titled "Making Life Awesome: How to Fight Average, Live with Purpose, and Create Stuff That Matters." Read Part 1 here. I hope these articles aid, in some small way, your journey to a more awesome life.

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Many of us have found ourselves living a purposeless driven life at one point or another. What I mean by that is, we are driven and motivated to be successful, to create meaningful things, and to live a life of beautiful purpose, but, at the same, we don't know what that purpose is. This results in a chaotic cycle of always pushing, pushing, pushing towards a destination that we can't see, and often one that we don't even know exists.

What a tragedy that man can live all his life without knowing what he is born to do. Without knowing what his purpose is. But waitIs that real? Is is true? Or just something we've come to believe because popular culture has so deeply ingrained it in our minds? That "doing what you're passionate about will make you happy?"

I don't buy it. Because what if purpose is not a final destination? What if finding your purpose doesn't work, but living with purpose does? What if? Because if you are living with purpose you can start today, you can start where you are, and you can start on what matters to you.

Here are three ways to stop worrying about purpose, and start doing things that matter

1. Change how you think about Purpose

There are a few lies that most of us believe about purpose:

1. You can’t start until you find yours.

2. The minute you find yours, everything will change.

3. Everyone but you knows exactly what theirs is.

4. You have to know what yours is by 21 years old.

5. You’ll only have one, ever.

Do any of those ring true for you? Perhaps all of them? I know I've been held victim to these lies more than a few times.

So we must replace them with the truth about purpose. Here we go:

1. "You can’t start until you find yours." 

You can start, and you can start today. You don't have to wait to start until some magical moment when unicorns appear and you "find your purpose." This is no longer a valid excuse to not go after your dreams. You no longer need to have a perfect plan before you can start that business/blog/passion project/side hustle/etc. No longer!

2. "The minute you find yours, everything will change."

This is the most ridiculous and absurd of the lies about purpose, and it's the one that trips most of us up in the most cunning way. We all imagine this dramatic, surreal moment when we find what we were born to do. The skies open, and a voice booms out with your purpose, and there's a pretty rainbow. No, the path to finding purpose is gradual, it doesn't happen overnight, and it's always ongoing. We must keep digging.

3. "Everyone but you knows exactly what theirs is."

We all love to believe that everyone else except me has life all figured out. But it's not true, and you can stop believing it today. We're all in this together. None of us are so special that we are the only ones who haven't found what our destiny is.

4. "You have to know what yours is by 21 years old." 

There's never a date by which you must know your purpose. All this lie does is lead us to compare our journey to other's journey, and when ours doesn't look like theirs, we do stupid things.

5. You'll only have one, ever." 

At different stages in life, we will have different assignments, different missions, and different purposes. Your purpose will probably look different in your 20's than it will in your 50's. 

2. Don't worry about passion

I believe "Follow your passion" is terrible advice. I think the far better option is to start doing something that brings you joy, and something that you are good at, and along the way you'll find your purpose and passion. But don't worry about the specifics right now.

We often hear these poetic and inspiring phrases thrown around about purpose and calling and destiny:

"Follow your passion and the money will come."

"Courage is the only thing holding you back from your calling."

"Do what you love and you won't work a day in your life."

These phrases may sound inspiring and important, so much so that we may be tempted to believe they tell the truth. But for the most part, they are empty promises. They look good on the outside, but the inside is an ugly mess.

“Stop worrying about what you feel like doing (and what the world owes you) and instead, start creating something really meaningful and then give it to the world.” - Seth Godin

Because passion is less of a noun and more of a verb. It works with action, with movement. The passion is far more likely to come if you decide to take one bold, brave step and just do something. Passion follows momentum. It favors the bold. The ones who dare to step out and do something even though it doesn’t make any sense at the time. The ones who put the work in even when they aren’t feeling inspired or passionate about it in the moment.

The passion will come. Just start moving.

3. Just start!

Regardless of your age or place in life, it all comes down to one simple truth: you just have to start. The starting line is the only thing you completely control.

Because it's impossible to accurately predict the finish. It's impossible to see the finish, because the path often radically changes by the time we get to the end. And the surprises life gives are always better than the things you think you see coming. So don't worry about the end so much, just start, and the vision will come.

If you're wondering where to start, the biggest question you can ask yourself is: "What gives me the most joy?" Don't buy the lie that changing the world has to be a chore or make you miserable. Be brave enough to have fun with whatever you do in life.

So start. Start today. Let now be the time when you get past the excuse of Someday. Remember, Someday isn't on the calendar. Just get started. 

Footnote: I have to thank Jon Acuff for inspiring much of this message and this blog series. In writing these, I heavily leaned on my notes from reading his fantastic book Start, which I highly recommend. Buy it on Amazon here.

Practical Next Steps

Identify one thing that you can start this week. Make it something very small and manageable, but you must do it within one week. It should be something that scares you just a little bit. Maybe it's start learning the guitar, or start eating one healthy meal a day, or start skipping coffee every day so you won't go broke, or etc. etc. Choose something small, and start it. Step past your fear. It's a lie anyway.

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