Purpose isn’t found—it’s created

After about 23,471 people asked me how to “find their purpose” in life, something dawned on me that I should have noticed sooner.

You see, the word “find” implies that our purpose in life is somewhere out there just waiting for us to stumble upon it.

We’ve been taught to believe that you can find your purpose in life just like you can find your lost keys or those sunglasses you know you left in the car. (Seriously, where the hell are my sunglasses???)

The other implication in “finding your purpose” is that once you’ve found it, you don’t have to do anything else. You’ll just live happily ever after, doing whatever it is you were supposed to be doing all along.

Basically, we’re taught that discovering purpose and meaning in our lives is an event, but it’s not. It’s a process.

(Side note: I know this is partly my fault for pandering to the search algorithms with headlines like “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose“. But if you actually—ahem—read the article, you’ll know better.)

Things like purpose and meaning aren’t found in life—they’re created. And just like any other creative endeavor, it’s a continuous process.

Connecting with a deeper purpose in your life requires some maintenance, just like exercising or going to the dentist.

You have to continually revisit and renew your purpose. You have to try things out—and fail at them—to know what you want and don’t want in life.

Years ago, in an article called “Find What You Love and Let It Kill You“, I wrote:

“People believe that all you have to do is find the thing—that one bloody thing!—that you are “meant” to do, and suddenly, everything will click into place. You’ll do it until the day you die and always feel fulfilled and happy and prance with unicorns and rainbows while making a million dollars in your pajamas.

But we just need that one thing—if only we knew what we were meant to do, then everything would fall into place!

And while it’s possible to brainstorm some ideas to help one get started, finding meaning and purpose is not a five-day spa retreat. It’s a fucking hike through mud and shit with golf-ball-sized hail pelting you in the face. And you have to love it. You really have to love it.”
It’s a bald, harsh truth and a tough pill to swallow: creating meaning and purpose in your life sucks sometimes.

You’re going to feel inadequate.

You’ll probably find a deep well of disappointment and despair.

You’ll want to give up more times than you can imagine.

That’s a lot harder to sell than a promise to “Live Your Passion in 3 Easy Steps.”

This shit ain’t easy.

If it were, everyone would be living out their dreams, frolicking and fucking their way through a blissful, carefree life. Then we’d all lie on our deathbeds, surrounded by adoring loved ones, smiles on our faces knowing we had done every single thing we ever wanted to do without a single regret.

If that’s what you’re aiming for, I have some disappointing news: not only is this impossible, it’s terribly misguided—because maintaining a driving purpose in your life requires a constant struggle.

It’s a constant struggle to find meaning in the everyday drudgery of life.

It’s a constant struggle to know who you are and live out your values.

It’s a constant struggle to find what you love—and to let it kill you.

But it’s precisely these struggles that give our lives meaning.

We should therefore welcome the struggle and the heartbreaking failure into our lives—like an old friend who’s come to give us the advice we don’t want to hear, but really need to.

So what’s that one thing you’ve been searching for that you believe would finally put you over the hump, finally make your life easy and grand and complete?

Is this one thing really going to do that for you? Or are you looking for an event instead of working through the process of creating your purpose?

The answers to these questions might be painful, but that’s kind of the point.

To your struggles,

Mark Manson

Πηγή: markmanson.net

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