Education Lifestyle Productivity

Maintaining Purpose

“Nothing is more creative… nor destructive… than a brilliant mind with a purpose.” 

Dan Brown (1964 – )

It’s easy to lose sight of your purpose once you get down in the trenches and start grinding. Here are nine ways to keep focused:

Exhibit Independent Thought

This was key to finding my own true purpose and it has helped me remain aligned with my unique path. Thinking for yourself is the only way to know what is best for you. Only you will know what is exactly best for you, because you are the one who knows exactly what you’re feeling and thinking. Additionally, you are the only person that has a complete understanding of your experiences. The most powerful thing we have is our ability to think independently. No one else but you knows what really makes you feel complete and fulfilled, what really excites you. I try to limit the time I spend taking in information that may jeopardize my ability to think independently. I’ve been off social media for the last year and my life has been moving in a direction that I can proudly say is uniquely my own. Like most things, exercising independent thought is a skill that takes time to master.

Provide Proportional Value

The more we request from life, the more we must be willing to provide. We will only be given the same magnitude of what we are able to provide. Believing that we will be given more than we provide will lead us to feelings of resentment, exhaustion, and dissatisfaction.

On the flip side, this does not mean more effort equals better results. Desirable results are not only a function of pure effort, there are other factors as well. However, desirable results will not come about without sufficient effort. In my experience, it’s usually more than I’d like.

Don’t Beg

Demand what you want, do not be apologetic, and do not settle for anything less or different than what you expect. I have a hard time being too agreeable. I hate demanding things from people. I‘m often apologetic and settle for less than what I’m expecting. These three things have been a recipe for mediocrity, resentment, frustration, and unhappiness. If we don’t beg for what we want, we come from a position of power. It’s much easier to obtain things from a position of power, rather than a position of lack.

Analyze Failures

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

Napoleon Hill (1883 – 1970)

No matter how bad a failure may seem, there is always something to learn. The bigger the failure, the bigger the lesson. I try to do everything I can to learn lessons and never repeat the same mistakes. My students know that I love it when they get questions wrong because it means that we have something to actually work on. It means that we know exactly where we can improve and get better and all we have to do is put in the work to make that happen.

Failure carry infinite knowledge as long as we confront it willingly and analyze them carefully.

Recognize Time as a Resource

Time is our greatest asset and the thing that we can shape into anything you want. This is our 2nd most important resource. People say time is money but I believe that’s totally wrong – time is infinitely more valuable than money. A lot of people get that twisted. We can always make money back but we can never get time back. Most people love to be frugal with their money and generous with their time, but to truly be effective we must be frugal with our time and generous with our money. Financially invest in your passions and dedicate as much time to them as possible. When I finally got over the money=time perspective, I was able to invest some money into my music production and I made the time to really develop my music. Now, I’m making more music than ever before and I love it even more because I make better sounding tracks.

I recommend On The Shortness of Life by Seneca and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson for those who really want to recognize time as a resource. On The Shortness of Life is also on my Must Read Book List.

Pursue Relentlessly

Once we have found our purpose, we should create a plan and never stop pursuing our mission. We must be willing to sacrifice everything for it. Our plan should be easily accessible, so we can refer back to it whenever we find ourselves losing the vision of the bigger picture. Easier said than done but…don’t stop no matter what. Don’t quit your own show, no one knows how it’s going to end and we can only find out if we stick with it until the end.

Faith Instead of Fear

Fear is doubting your ability to make your life provide you with what you want. Notice when it is there and replace it with faith in your ability to create. We can all live our lives by design when we see how much we have to offer to the world. This is a perfect example of what I call pragmatic truth. It may not be objectively true that you have the ability to create the world you’d like for yourself, however, operating from that perspective can give you the ability to see the way to your goals. More often than not, we can’t see the answers to our problems because we have a different perspective than we need.

Whenever I think of this, I think of Elon Musk. Someone asked him “If you could get the answer to any question in the world what would it be?” and he said “What’s beyond the simulation?” I think this is interesting because 1) Elon believes we live in a simulation, and honestly who can blame him for believing that and 2) it’s just a pragmatic truth. Maybe Elon is accomplished so much of what he has because of his perspective, even if it isn’t true.

Prepare for “The Attack

This is one of the most profound ideas I’ve come across. “The Attack” are all the obstacles that are presented to us when we finally find our purpose and start moving forward. The Attack can appear in many forms including but not limited to self-constraints, anxiety, depression, bad moods, focusing on other people, comparisons, or sudden bad events. “The Attack” can come from yourself or other people and it will always show up in creative ways. It only appears once you set yourself on a good path for you so it’s impossible for prepare for it in the exact way it will appear, but knowing that it is coming will give you the ability to recognize it and create a game plan to defend yourself when it does come up.

My girlfriend beautifully outlines “The Attack” in her blog post here. Make no mistake, this is an attack and it requires serious effort to fight back to overcome it.

Master or Be Mastered

Life is cruel and it will own us if we do not own it. There are no half-measures and it’s important to never accept anything that you don’t want. There is a fine line between paying necessary dues and refusing to accept the unwanted. Be clear that the sacrifices made are chosen from a powerful place and not imposed upon you by someone or something else. Choose to take the time to cultivate yourself and master the things that grip you. If we don’t, the Reality-Possibility Exchange takes hold and we will be merely the instruments of another’s grand plan.

Be Mindful

I love this. My girlfriend first introduced me to mindfulness a few years ago and the benefits are through the roof. A study from the American Psychological Association suggests mindfulness promotes mental and physical health as well as general well-being. Additionally, people who practice mindfulness tend to be less affected by traumatic experiences and also live longer.

So what is mindfulness?

It’s simply paying attention to what you pay attention to. It’s about recognizing what you are thinking, acknowledging the presence of the thought, and replacing these unintentional thoughts with intentional thoughts. When it comes down to it, mindfulness is the practice of mastering your mind. It’s about making your dominant thoughts the ones that you put there. I try to not allow intrusive and unwanted thoughts to poison my mind and take my attention. Much easier said than done, obviously. Our attention is the most valuable assets we posses, do not give it away easily. Keep in mind, being mindful is a skill and it takes a while to get used to.

These are just a few ways to maintain purpose. Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list so I recommend that everyone spends some time to find other methods of maintaining purpose during the downswings of life.

By Chris

Dad. Teacher. Music Producer. Writer. Chemist. Trader.