Figure Out What's Next

How to Create a Life of Purpose

career satisfaction peter axtell purposeful living skills May 24, 2017
green lawn and woods

by Peter Axtell

image via pixabay

Learn to identify purpose by identifying a skill to master. Few of us have ever been taught how to create a life of purpose and therefore end up living a life by default. Living a life on purpose seems like it just magically happens to exceptional people like Viktor Frankl, Gandhi, Steve Jobs or the Beatles. A purpose is not something you are born with; you bring it into being through specific actions. You create it by doing the necessary hard work, in the right order with a specific goal in mind.

What is Purpose?

One way to describe it is living life intentionally. That means to wake up, become aware and conscious of how you are living your life. It means you have created meaningful work and a plan for that work to bring something to the world that is greater than yourself. It doesn't have to be huge or dramatic. Most of us will never save the 40 kids from a burning school bus or get the British out of India, but we can live a meaningful life if we have a strategy for doing so.

Why Live a Life on Purpose?

Because a purpose is a powerful creative energy that pulls you forward into action rather than the feeling of pushing all the time. That energy pulls you through the inevitable obstacles that arise in life.  A life without purpose has no focus and therefore becomes an energy drain. It becomes drudgery and depressing because there's no inspiring goal to reach nor any plan to get there.

Purpose Alone Is Not Enough

The idea that with enough passion and purpose you'll succeed is a fallacy. It's far more complicated than that. You need a strategy. The first place to start is to identify what kinds of skills are in demand?

In the book “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink, the author defines the kinds of skills that are needed in the world today.

“The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. The era of 'left brain' dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered are giving way to a new world in which 'right brain' qualities - inventiveness, empathy, meaning - predominate."

On the Other Hand…

When I lived in England many years ago, I hired a stone mason named Dave Woodman to build a long wall along the country lane where we lived. The first morning he showed up for work, he arrived on a motorcycle with a sidecar attached, but instead of a seat for the sidecar, he had his cement mixer attached.  Picture Dave on his motorcycle going down the road with a cement mixer on the sidecar. Hilarious. We needed field stones for this wall, so Dave and I went out into the Devon countryside looking for suitable material. As we clomped around the green fields in our rubber boots, Dave taught me that all stones have a face and you have to pick the right face for a proper stone wall. Dave would pick up a rock once, spin it around quickly, find the face and place it in the wall perfectly.

Dave was a quiet master craftsman and an excellent teacher. He taught me about what it means to be a master craftsman, delivering a skill that is rare and valuable and therefore in demand.  He had never traveled more than 25 miles out of the village his entire life, and he had all the work he could handle. Here was a man who was quietly living a life on purpose and fulfilled by that purpose. The purpose came as a result of the mastery of a skill that was in demand, not the other way around.

How to Start Identifying Your Purpose by Identifying a Skill to Master

  • Research on Google the careers that are growing and make a list.
  • What careers do you find attractive?
  • What skills in that career category are you attracted to?
  • How much time would it take you to master that skill?
  • What kind of resources do you need to start that skill acquisition?
  • Where could you get expert help to shorten the time to mastery?
  • When can you get started?

You Create a Life of Purpose by Applying the Right Strategy

It should be obvious by now that a Life of Purpose is not something you are born into…and that is great news. You can get started right now by following the steps above. If you are someone, who is excited by the idea of hard work to master a skill, then this strategy is for you. Sadly, most people are not motivated to engage in hard work because often it's uncomfortable and takes too much time. The opportunity is that mastery of skills in a career area that the world needs, are rare, valuable, and therefore in demand.  If you want to have control of your life, master a skill that's in demand and what you'll find is fun, satisfaction, and a life on purpose.

Question: What is a skill you would enjoy to master?


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