“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
– Alice in the Wonderland
You have probably heard about the story of Alice in the Wonderland and how the clarity of purpose is the key that determines where you want to go in life.
A lot of gurus and personal development books talk about the above scenario from Alice in the Wonderland, and it is true that this is exactly what is happening in most people’s lives.
The very first step to achieving what you want is to determine what it is that you want.
Sadly, most people are blurry in this. They have no idea what they want to accomplish and that is why they are unsure which path to follow.
I love the way Tony Robbins puts it. Life is like a sprinting river and most people get into the river without even knowing where they want to go. They started the journey without a destination.
And oftentimes, they caught up in the current: current events, current fears, current challenges, and more.
People just go “with the flow” and become part of the mass of people who are directed by the environment. This is why people often feel out of control because they are going through life directionless and busy responding to the currents that are happening in their lives.
And Tony says:
They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sound of the raging water awakens them, and they discover that they’re five feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars. At this point, they say, ‘Oh shoot!’ But by then it’s too late. They’re going to take a fall.
Sometimes it’s an emotional fall.
Sometimes it’s a physical fall.
Sometimes it’s a financial fall.
It’s likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by making some better decisions upstream.
If this is describing your life, you must do something and start taking control of yourself and your life right now. Begin to make conscious effort to take charge to make better decisions and choices and find a path that will get you where you want to go.
The famous author, Napoleon Hill once said:
“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”
Success starts with the clarity of purpose. Without knowing exactly what you want, there is no way you can get it.
Imagine if you want to travel overseas, but you have yet to decide on which country to visit, can you buy a flight ticket or formulate your itinerary? Do you know how much to spend and where to stay? How do you plan to get there and what are attractions you are going to visit?
As you can see, without knowing your destination, there is no way you can proceed further. The same goes in your life. Without knowing your destination, having a clear direction, or your purpose, you will end up nowhere and all you do is responding to whatever that comes to you.
Clarity of purpose is important because…
1. Clarity gives you a destination of where you want to go. When you are absolutely clear about what you want to achieve, you can then formulate a solid plan to get there and take the right action to produce the right result.
2. Clarity eliminates all distraction and allows you to focus on your target like an arrow flying straight to the bull’s eye. You can then ignore all the distractions and fully concentrate on your target.
3. Clarity makes you proactive rather than being reactive. Yes, when you have a clear purpose and you know what to do, it makes you proactive and makes things happen rather than waiting for things to happen and responding to whatever that comes to you.
By now, you should understand the power of having the clarity of purpose, but how are you going to attain it? Here are some good suggestions you can follow:
1. Define the Success You Want
You need to define the success you want. Ask yourself, “What has to happen in order for me to feel successful?”
The definition of success can be different for everyone. For some, having a million dollar in the bank is considered extremely successful, but some do not define their success by the money that they earned. And for some others, they only feel successful when they build a profitable business and sell it for hundreds of millions.
So everyone has their own definitions of success. You should find out your own meaning of success and never to compare it with others. What others want may not be what you want.
Some people are so obsessed with running a business and they can work 24/7, while others choose to live a more balanced lifestyle where they want to spend more time with their family and on other things.
It is all up to you and not up to others. So, find out the meaning of success in your life.
2. Write Down What You Want
The next suggestion is write down the success that you want. It does not matter what you write down as long as you do. This is to create a commitment and also make yourself understand better about the things that you want to be, do, and have in your life.
You can start with writing down your dreams, visions, missions, and even write down 100 goals that you want to achieve in your life, just like how Jack Canfield did it.
The key is in the process of putting your thoughts onto paper so that you allow your mind to think and come up with the answer of your purpose in life.
3. Envision Your Future
One good way to discover your purpose in life is to envision your future. When you imagine the life you want in the far future, you can clearly see the kind of life you want to live.
And you can then make an adjustment in your current reality to get to the future that you desire. When you visualize and envision the success you want, you are telling your mind the kind of life you want to live. As a result, it gives you a clear sense of direction and purpose.
Remember, your vision and thoughts are limitless. The limit only exists because you set it in your head. This is why people often say, “Think big”. Since you are going to be doing the thinking anyway, you might as well just think big. And who knows, if your dreams come true, and you’ll be living big.
4. Seek Out Other Successful People and Mentors
Want to know how your future will turn out? There is a simple strategy you can use to forecast your future. It is simple, just look at the people above you in your position and you can roughly tell if you want to be like him or her.
For example, if you are an executive in your company, look at how your manager is doing in life right now. This is because if you climb the corporate ladder, highly likely, you will become the manager too, and are going through what your manager is going through right now.
Therefore, if you don’t like what your manager is going through right now, you have to find a solution to change.
Just look at the people in your industry who are going at a faster pace and have proceeded further than you. There is a high chance that you will become them in the next few years.
Hence, it gives you a clear look at your life and in your career of what will be. And if you don’t like how the future looks like, you’re lucky, because you can still make a change and alter the present to create a different and a more fulfilling future.
5. Living Your Purpose
Finding your purpose in life may not be as difficult as you can imagine. Sometimes, you need to imagine and visualize your future, sometimes, you need to listen to your own voice and follow your heart, and sometimes it is about trial-and-error where you try things out to discover if it is what you truly want.
My friend, please understand that success is not a straight and simple journey. It is a complicated, zigzag, and a journey full of peaks and valleys.
You cannot discover your purpose in life unless you live it. How can you tell if you are someone hardworking or lazy? Unless you are already practicing the habits and are living with those traits, saying that you are hard working is pointless until it becomes a part of you and you’re already doing it.
The same goes for finding the purpose in your life. You can never discover your purpose unless you are already living it.
This may sound a little confusing, but it is all about awareness and being conscious of your living.
More importantly, keep making progress. If you are yet to discover the purpose in your life, keep looking and don’t settle. The answer will come ask you seek.
As long as you are still journeying and keep making progress, you will eventually arrive. The key is to keep searching and make adjustment as you go.
“The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”
– Joseph Campbell
6. Listen to Your Inner Voice
One of the suggestions from Leo Babauta of ZenHabits in discovering your purpose in life is to listen to your inner voice.
And to do so, you need to practice being in solitude. Where you get rid of all distractions such as lock yourself in your room, turn off the TV, turn off your phone, get away from everything else, walk alone in the garden, etc. The key is to get away from all possible distractions so that you can be with yourself, alone.
When you have created this space, try to listen to your heart’s voice and notice how you feel. Perhaps, you feel joyful when you think about your work, or maybe you feel resentful when you imagine yourself dealing with your coworkers. Whatever it is, just let your thoughts and emotion flow and then take note of them.
7. Trial and Error
You have to understand that your purpose in life is not a destination, but a journey. Hence, sometimes you’ll have to go through a certain process to discover your calling.
When Steve Jobs decided to drop out from the college, he thought that he was not a good student. But because he dropped out of classes he disliked, he has the time to sit in classes that he liked, particularly, the calligraphy class.
Many years later, Jobs discovered that the decision to drop out of college was one of the best choices because he managed to learn calligraphy and created beautiful typefaces for Mac.
And he admitted that being fired from Apple, the company he started was necessary because he discovered his true passion and learned even more from his failures. He said:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Life is full of trials and errors. You will never know if you’re on the right path until you make the decision and walk the path.
Hence, take the shotgun approach and try out as many things as possible. You will never know what lies ahead and what amazing things are waiting for you.
Most successful people work through all kinds of jobs before they finally discovered the thing that clicked with them…
- Julia Roberts scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins in Georgia before she became famous.
- Brad Pitt got into character as the chicken from El Pollo Loco before he became a famous Hollywood actor.
- George Clooney was a door-to-door salesman before he was an Oscar-winning actor.
And the list goes on.
So don’t worry if you’re blurred and not sure if you are on the right path. Have faith, trust in yourself, keep searching, and keep making progress. The best is yet to come.