Al Ries (Author; Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It)
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
Viktor E. Frankl (Austrian Neurologist and Holocaust Survivor)
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
Yogi Berra (3X American League Baseball MVP)
Most of life’s problems are the result of uncertainty and unfocused energy.
Uncertainty is crippling. I hate being unsure of myself or unsure of which course of action to take. The absolute worst times of my life were when I couldn’t make up my mind about something. I remember my third year of graduate school when I was sure I was going to quit and leave with a Masters degree instead of a Ph.D. I’d had enough. I was miserable. But I couldn’t pull the trigger to leave. So I moped around for weeks until someone started calling me Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, which made me snap out of it.
Uncertainty makes everything seem heavy. When you’re confused and unfocused, it feels like wearing one of those weighted workout vests. You move slower and life seems heavier but somehow time goes by really fast. And it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anywhere. Everything seems fuzzy too. Or dark. Like you’re wearing a blindfold. It’s hard to find meaning in your life when you’re wearing a blindfold and a weighted vest.
I used to sit back and stare at people that seemed absolutely satisfied with their lives and supremely confident in everything they did and think it was the result of some kind of magic pill (or ignorant bliss). How could they be so strong and empowered all the time? It was annoying. Part of me wanted to bring them down a notch. Teach them a lesson. Life is hard and if you’re not unsure of yourself and confused half the time then you’re doing it wrong. That’s the lesson. Bam. Knowledge dropped. Of course, I was being an idiot. I just couldn’t see what was behind their confidence and happiness. What was I missing?
Start With Purpose
Purpose is a pretty generic word. It doesn’t mean much beyond doing something for a reason instead of for no reason at all. Most people think that finding your purpose is a bunch of mumbo jumbo. They think it’s a waste of time. Getting a promotion at the office or closing the next big deal is much more important than man’s search for meaning. But then why are so many people, rich or poor, unhappy and unfulfilled?
Start with purpose and you’ll end up unstoppably happy. Purpose turns an average man or woman into a force of nature. If you start with a job promotion, a product you want to sell, or a get-rich quick scheme, you’ll either run out of steam before you succeed or succeed and get bored and throw it all away. If you start with building your network or platform, you’ll fail because your message will be empty (or fickle) and people won’t know how to rally around it. But, if you start with purpose, you can build a strong platform around it and then launch products from it for the rest of your life.
Side Effects Of Finding Your Purpose
Your purpose is everything you want to have, do, and be in life. But it’s not just a list of outcomes, it’s also a way of living. Your purpose involves the priorities that you live your life by. It also involves the things you wake up and do on a daily basis. And, most importantly, it’s the reason WHY you’re waking in the first place. Finding your purpose is the process of aligning all of these things. This alignment, or congruency, has side effects. Side effects that turn ordinary people into history-makers. Here are 13 different side effects of finding your purpose in life.
1. Diabolical levels of confidence. – Congruency abolishes uncertainty. People who have found their purpose and aligned there lives with it have scary levels of confidence. They do things that make no sense to reasonable people. It’s both fun and a little intimidating to watch.
Like Larry Page, the now billionaire, who dropped out his Stanford Ph.D. program to co-found Google. Or David Kostman, the former managing director of Lehman Brothers who quite to start Nanoosh, a chain of organic hummus bars. Fortune 500 to hummus? That was ballsy. But it was only ballsy to other people. Because other people didn’t share his purpose and couldn’t see his vision.
2. Unlimited energy levels. – How do startup owners, CEOs, and high level execs go to bed at midnight and wake up at 6AM every single day for 10-20 years. How do they power through these 110% moments in life? It’s because they’ve found their purpose and can see it so clearly that their insides burn with energy.
The more you define your future, the more energy you’ll have to achieve it. If you’ve ever played a sport and done shuttle sprints you know that you can always run faster on the very last sprint. This is because what you have in front of you (one more sprint) is very defined. Understand that clarity creates energy. If you wake up every day tired and bored it’s because you lack clarity and purpose.
3. A power network. – A study performed by MetLife found that people with a strong sense of purpose have more loved ones and bigger networks. On the whole, these people are more engaged with their families, friends, colleagues, and romantic interests.
4. Superhuman lifespan. – Purpose is a matter of life, death, and business success. A 2009 study of over 73,000 Japanese men and women found that those who had a strong connection to their sense of purpose (which they call ikigai) live longer than those who lack a strong purpose. Many of those with a very strong sense of purpose lived past the age of 100.
5. Cash money. – A survey from Deloitte found that businesses with a strong sense of purpose are more successful financially. Deloitte sampled 1,310 U.S. adults, finding that 90% of people who believe their organization has a strong sense of purpose made a lot more money than people who believe their organization lacks purpose.
6. Work satisfaction. – The above survey also showed that purpose driven businesses had very high levels of employee satisfaction. On the other hand, employee satisfaction at companies that lacked purpose was a dismal 19%.
7. A stronger heart. – A recent study found that a lack of purpose in life correlated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. The researches concluded that finding your purpose in life acts like a protective factor against “near-future myocardial infarction.”
8. A smarter brain. – A study that’s been underway since 1997 has analyzed the brains of 246 dementia patients, finding that those with a strong purpose in life have a 30 percent lower rate of cognitive decline than those who lack a clear purpose. The study controlled for overall physical health, exercise, education, IQ, personality traits, inclinations, depression, and a range of other psychological issues.
Here’s the really weird part: people with a strong purpose versus those with little or no purpose had the same numbers of plaques and tangles. In other words, biologically, the patient’s brains were identical but those who had a strong purpose stayed smarter, longer.
9. Laser-like focus. – The power of purpose is like the power of light focused through a magnifying glass. Diffused light has little power. But when that light is concentrated through a magnifying glass in can set fire paper. And, if that same light is focused even more through a series of magnifiers, like with a laser beam, it can cut through thick metal. In the same way, a strong sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts and cut quickly through even the largest of obstacles.
10. Immunity from pain. – Congruency and resiliency go hand-in-hand. A study in The Journal of Pain found that women with a stronger sense of purpose were better able to withstand pain caused by extreme heat and cold stimuli applied to their skin. Your ability to bounce back from pain is directly proportional to how aligned you are with your purpose in life.
11. Ability to control the future. – When you have a strong purpose, you’re only concerned about the things you can control. If something happens outside of your control, you’re not moved. Obstacles don’t phase you or take you out of your game. Instead, you find a solution, sans drama, and keep moving forward toward your purpose.
You control the future because you’re only focused on the parts you can control.
12. Lack of shame. – Purpose destroys the part of your brain that feels shame. When you are completely congruent with your purpose, you no longer care about looking good. You no longer care about what other people think of you. When your purpose is stronger than you pride, nothing seems ridiculous. Nothing can embarrass you.
Behind everyone who fails or plays the fool over and over again is a purpose so strong that it’s scary.
13. Magnetism. – A 4-part series on charisma published by Inc. magazine reported that an inner sense of purpose is one of the most crucial elements to being magnetic in both business and life. Simply put, other people are drawn to the man or woman who knows exactly who they are, what they want, and where they are headed.
If you know where you’re going in life, other people want to be around you. They will also want to get out of your way.
Which of the above side effects have you experienced in your own life? Which effects do you disagree with?