Most of us are trained to believe success is inexorably linked to the attainment of goals.
But this kind of success isn’t enjoyed for long because that moment of attainment is fleeting.
We reach a goal and then it’s over the very instant it’s reached.
Failure to replace the goal with a new one then invites feelings of hopelessness.
Ask any Olympic gold medallist.
Instead, we need to savour the actions we take along the way and draw satisfaction from them.
It’s a paradigm shift that puts the pleasure and joy back where it belongs - in the doing.
It follows that you need to link success with the things you do rather than the goals you reach.
Have your goals, by all means, but define your success by the things you do and the person you become as a result of striving for the goal - not the goal itself.
This way, as you show up each day and work steadily towards your next goal, you’re already successful.
And each day, you’re more successful than the one before it because showing up and doing the work has a compounding effect.
Not just in a metaphorical way but in real terms.
You can feel it.
You can revel in it and let it energise you and drive you forward.
The journey really does become more important than the destination.
And just like the word ‘success’, your purpose shouldn't be tied to an outcome, either.
Otherwise, you'll defer its enrichment till the outcome is reached (if indeed it is).
Your purpose needs to run like a river through your life, not appear occasionally like a signpost on a freeway.
It works better as a theme.
Also, hitching your purpose to a goal implies that once you reach that goal, your purpose is automatically extinguished, as it now needs a new destination - a new goal to pursue.
If you allow yourself to work this way, it creates a perpetual cycle; always striving yet always losing the very feeling you seek - the feeling of purpose.
Your goals, while essential for tracking progress towards things you want to get or do, must align with your purpose.
If they aren’t a reflection of your purpose or they diminish it in some way, you should reconsider them.
You won't be here for very long. In the blink of an eye, it’ll all be over.
Thousands, perhaps millions of generations will follow.
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What if you recognised and accepted the improbable fortune bestowed upon you just to participate in this brief experience?
What if you treated it like any other incredible gift?
When you were young, and you received an amazing gift that you loved, what did you do?
Did you try to analyse it?
Did you try to uncover its meaning?
You enjoyed it.
You used it.
You cherished it and took care of it.
You appreciated it for what it was.
Think about all this.
Your life’s purpose should be the same.
Yes, strive for your goals, embark on your quests and slay your dragons if you must.
But understand that your life is an almost impossible fluke of luck.
Your mission is to embrace your purpose, to enjoy it and live it.
More than likely it'll demand some recalibration of your internal compass, but if you’re honest, it probably hasn't pointed to your true north for a very long time.
Approached this way, when you reach some of your milestones and hit some goals, you'll enjoy them thoroughly because they’ll be tied to your purpose.
Yours, and nobody else's.
Skipping this vital component undermines everything else you do.
Getting this right - for you - forms the bedrock of your plans.
It provides a solid footing upon which to build everything that follows and brings a deeply felt passion for the work you do.
To help you develop a description of your unique purpose, I’ll offer you mine:
My purpose is to live authentically; to do work that truly matters to me and to help others along their journey. It is to serve my family and create the resources I need to live fully and experience the magic of my brief time on Earth – and critically, to pass these values onto my children so that they too can live with purpose, on purpose.