Are you looking for purpose in your life? If you do a Google Search on, “How can you find purpose in life?” Google will return about 1,170,000,000 results in 0.73 seconds. It’s staggering the amount of advice you will find on the Internet. Unfortunately, most of the information is more noise than signal:
- 33 Ideas for Finding Purpose in Life
- 4 Simple Ways To Set Your Goals
- 6 Books That Will Change Your Life
- For A Limited Time: Take My Email Course For $99
Your Lizard Brain is Killing You
I am confident the items above sound eerily familiar. Regardless of the noise, you try and find your passion; you list out your goals, you read the books and take the course. Armed with these new tools your glowing with motivation and you attack the goals; checking off items at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, motivation is a fickle source of energy, and it soon betrays you.
The glow you wore proudly fades, and the rapid pace becomes a crawl. Then life happens, and your most important goals drop to important, then they slip to less important and finally, your goals lay at the feet of would be nice.
At this point, your lizard brain is at full strengthen and screaming, “I told you that you were not good enough!” Author Seth Godin scribbles, “The lizard brain is the reason you’re afraid, the reason you don’t do all the art you can, the reason you don’t ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.”
Why the Social Contagion is a Trap
I understand your frustration. Like you, I have spent countless hours searching for “How can you find purpose in life?” Only to be overwhelmed by the avalanche of results, which would lead me to prematurely give up and succumbing to the narrative of my lizard brain.
Strangely, I began to see improvements in my life and work, not from spending countless hours searching the web, but when I started to question advice, rules, and dogma. Author Vishen Lakhiani tutors, “We often take on ideas not through rational choice but through social contagion — the act of an idea spreading from mind to mind without due questioning.”
Lakhiani continues, “But it means we may be living our lives according to models that haven’t been upgraded for years, decades, even centuries. Blindly following may be efficient, but it’s not always smart.”
So I scrutinized the ideas based on social contagion and began to question everything. What I gradually began to understand is that I was relying on experts to solve my problems. Regina Dugan, a former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director, explains, “We think someone else—someone smarter than us, someone more capable, with more resources—will solve that problem. But there isn’t anyone else.”
Why More Beautiful Questions will Fuel Your Purpose
That was my problem; I kept relying on others to solve mine. How can you expect others to help you solve your problem when the source of the problem is you.
Warren Berger, the author of, A More Beautiful Question, explains, “If you give the mind time and space, it will do its own work on the problem, over time. And it will usually come up with interesting possibilities to work with.”
There is no specific question to ask yourself, in all honesty, any question will help start the change reaction to problem resolution. But I wanted to give you a call to action, five interesting questions from entrepreneur Tim Ferriss:
- Were my goals my own, or simply what I thought I should want?
- How much of life had I missed from under-planning or over-planning?
- How could I be kinder to myself?
- How could I better say ‘no’ to the trivial many to better say ‘yes’ to the critical few?
- How could I best reassess my priorities and my purpose in this world?
If I remember correctly, Ferriss explained that he leverages the answers to the questions to help him better plan his year, month, week and day. I started using these questions not to find answers but to start a dialogue with myself as an assessment; a frequent checkpoint that allowed me to self-correct.
I have experienced countless peaks and valleys, and I have found two things to be true 1. You will die and 2. Your time is limited. So don’t spend your days trapped by the social contagion, but spend all your time on your own needs. Organize every day like it was your last because it takes a whole life to learn how to live. Everything else is secondary.
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