“Find your why and you’ll find your way.”
– John C. Maxwell
Purpose-driven is referred to in this article as the desire to find your WHYs and knowing what to do afterward.
“What is your why? Why did you even get out of the bed this morning? Why did you eat what you ate? Why did you wear what you wore? Why did you come here?” These are the questions Howard Inlet, the character played by Will Smith, asks his employees at the beginning of the movie “Collateral Beauty.”
Should you be asked the same questions, would you be able to answer unequivocally? Do you have definite answers, at least, to the first two questions? If your answer is yes, good for you. Way to go! I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually you’ll succeed in your personal and professional pursuits, or you might have already done it. But if your answer is no, I would suggest you do some soul searching because seemingly you have been cruising through life aimlessly. It is very likely that you don’t know your purpose. You may not be living your life knowingly.
Purpose is a powerful driving force in our quest for a better self and a better life. It is the reason why we do what we do and why we exist. They help us have a meaningful existence. Thus, we should strive hard to know (or establish) our purpose and be driven by it. We need to live life with definite intentions.
The question is how. How to live life purposely?
Simon Sinek gave the following suggestion – “Start with why” (which is also the title of probably the most popular among the books he has written). Although the said book focuses on organization and leadership and how having a WHY helps the leader succeed in bringing success to the organization, the WHY principles that Sinek articulated apply to individuals as well. He (Sinek) said that your WHY is your purpose, cause, or belief.
It’s not only organizations and leaders who should have (and be very clear with their) WHYs. Every person should have them, whether or not they belong to an organization, whether or not they are leaders. Each individual needs to determine and establish their purpose, cause, and belief. It’s not only organizations and leaders who should know why they do what they do and why they exist. Each of us should also have a clear understanding of these things.
Two of Howard Inlet’s questions – “Why did you eat what you ate?” and “Why did you wear what you wore?” – may, at first glance, be considered inconsequential. But as one of the owners of that advertising company in that story, Inlet wants to drive home a very important point – that every member of that organization should be aware of the reasons why they do what they do.
This is one thing we ought to be doing even in a personal level also. We ought to be asking ourselves why we do what we do.
I presume (and I hope my presumption is right) that you have set goals in the different areas of life – family and relationships, career and business, personal growth and development, and fun and recreation. The foregoing are the areas with which I subdivided my life into. It is possible that you may have subdivided your life differently from the way I did. But one thing for sure, just like me, you have goals in the different aspects of your life no matter how you may have structured it. Those goals are the manifestations of your purpose or purposes in life, causes you advocate, and the beliefs you uphold.
The answer to the question “Why did you even get out of the bed this morning?” should be as simple as – to pursue the goals you set in the different areas of your life. Right?
But how many out of 10 people set goals (and are you one of them)? How many do live a life driven by a definite purpose? That is difficult to answer with absolute certainty. The one thing I noticed though about estimates on how many percent of people in a particular country succeeded in their chosen endeavors and fields of expertise is that none of the statistics went above 10%. Actually, majority of the articles I read on the topic claimed it’s only 2% to 5%. So, if goals correlate to success, given all the aforementioned numbers, is it safe to assume that approximately only 1 out of 10 set goals?
Granting that my estimation is accurate, only 1 out 10 people know their purpose, cause, and belief. The great majority of human beings wake up in the morning not knowing what are they going to do and where are they headed to. I hope that you’re not one of them.
And those questions that I said earlier are seemingly inconsequential are necessary questions to ask to remind you that even the simplest things you do everyday should contribute to the attainment of your big goals.
What sets apart purpose-driven people from those who are not is that the former constantly ask themselves this question – what consequences do my words, actions, and thoughts bear on the goals that I set.
Your WHY is your north star. It gives you a sense of direction. Not having it is like walking aimlessly not knowing where to go. Not knowing it is like looking for something that you don’t know. You’ll never find it. It’s like living life randomly, not purposely.
Knowing your WHY allows you to clearly identify your goals… goals that as previously mentioned, are the manifestations of your purpose or purposes in life, causes you advocate, and the beliefs you uphold.
But knowing your WHY is only the beginning. It’s like you getting ready at the starting line of a marathon you decided to join. Eventually, you will start running and you know what it takes to succeed in this kind of competition – physical and mental toughness.
There are character traits too required for one to become truly purpose-driven. These are passion and perseverance.
What do you do after setting your goals? Answer: Pursue them with passion and perseverance. After establishing your goals and setting the plans for their pursuit, obstacles and challenges will lie in the path to their accomplishment. It’s not easy climbing Mt. Everest. The things you want to possess, to become, and to accomplish will not be delivered to you in a silver platter. You have to work hard to get them. Whatever you want – wealth, power, fame, success, health, and happiness – will not come knocking at you door. You’ll have to go out and seek for them. And in the process of seeking them out, you need passion and perseverance.
Cambridge defines passion as “an extreme interest in or wish for doing something, such as hobby, activity, etc.” and perseverance as “continued effort and determination.” Both traits, obviously, are needed by those who want to have their hands raised in the podium of winners. You cannot afford to be half-hearted in your undertakings. Be consumed by a burning desire to achieve your goals and realize your dreams. And even when the going gets rough, you’re not supposed to give up so easily. You have to persevere. What’s the use of knowing your why and set goals after if you don’t pursue them vigorously. When you run a race, make sure you finish it.
Duckworth (2016) packaged these two constructs, passion and perseverance, into one concept – GRIT. Duckworth, as cited by Fessler (2018), defines the term “as passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way. It combines reliance, ambition, and self-control in the pursuit of goals that take months, years, or even decades.”
Studies on grit time and again have proven that people holding steadfast to their goals which they set through time succeed. So, learn to stick with your goals notwithstanding the difficulties and challenges you face.