Finding Purpose in Life

Few men concern themselves with finding purpose in life. And those that do usually allow the exercise to go no further than their initial musings. They know they want more fulfillment from life, but the ambiguity of how to go about actualizing it is just too daunting for them to take any action on that desire.

In the next episode of the Mancast, my guest and I will be discussing the power of action (update link: The Power of Action with Kyle Eschenroeder).

Action is required to find your purpose. You’ll be precluded from finding what imbues your life with a sense of purpose if you aren’t acting with the intent of finding out what that might be.

But finding purpose in life is more nuanced than that. The mistake most men make is equating their purpose with what they find the most enjoyable.

While our search for purpose should include personal enjoyment as a criterion, we make a grave error when we confuse what we find to be pleasurable with what we’ve been uniquely prepared to do with our lives.

The real secret to finding your purpose is to replace consumption with production. You must shift your mindset from one of “what can I get” to “what do I have to give”.

When you find the value you’re distinctly positioned to bring to the world, you’ll find your purpose. Will this purpose also be enjoyable? Absolutely. But not in the same way that we normally think about enjoyment.

Enjoyment is most often found in the activities we use to mentally recharge us. A day at the beach, relaxing with a book and a beer, spending time with our band of brothers, playing sports, etc. These activities are enjoyable precisely because they aren’t work for us.

When we find purpose in life, we find work that we enjoy but that also brings us the most fulfillment. As many selfish men who’ve come before us can attest, a self-centered life is an unsatisfied life. This is why it’s imperative that we have a giver’s mindset.

There’s always more to be consumed. More money to be earned; more prestige to be gained; more power and influence to consolidate; more possessions to accrue.

The life of John D. Rockefeller is a prime example of what happens when we confuse a self-centered existence with purpose.

At 33 years of age, John D. Rockefeller was America’s first millionaire. At 43, he ran the largest company in the world, Standard Oil. At 53, he was America’s first billionaire. By this time, in the early 1900’s, he was so sick that he could only eat crackers and milk. He was on his deathbed. Newspapers had written his obituary. They believed his death was certain. At the same time, he was hung in effigy because people hated him for being full of greed.1

Rockefeller had lived his life to that point acting on what he thought was his purpose. He was wrong. It drained his health and nearly cost him his life.

It took a revelation from God for his focal point to transition away from a “what can I get” mindset to one that focused on what he had to give. Once he did, his body slowly recovered, he regained his appetite and lived another 40 years using his wealth and personal talents to bring value to the lives of others. He found his purpose, and it literally saved his life.

Yes, finding purpose in life requires taking action. But you have to know what to look for as you act.

The reason so many men are leading unfulfilled lives is because they’re searching for purpose in the wrong places. They’re attempting to find it in the things that bring them the most comfort and personal gain, instead of searching for it in the ways they’re able to provide value to others.

If you want to know how to find purpose in life, it’s actually quite simple. Start taking action, using the knowledge, skills, connections, and resources at your disposal to enhance the lives of others.

It may take a little time to discover ways to do this. This is why action is a prerequisite. You’ll never find the ways you can use your life to benefit others if you’re not taking action on the openings life brings you to do so.

You’ll find that once you start looking for opportunities to bring value to others, and acting on them as they’re presented, the blurred picture containing the image of your purpose will soon come into sharp focus.

Men, finding purpose in life is as simple as finding what it is that you have to give to the world. Once you’ve done this you’ll have found your purpose. This is the first step along the path to greatness.

– Craig James






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