What do you truly long for? Separating Goals and Purpose

Ambition and Purpose Part Ways

“Out you go! Gahahahaha! Find your own way! Sink or swim!”
“I could be mad, but maybe you’re right. I’m going to find my own way!”

There is a part of one’s self who wants to chase big dreams, goals, and ambitions. And there’s another part who can get lost in life and wants to find direction. When these two meet, the part who is lost can be persuaded that what he is truly looking for is what the ambitious one has his sights on. But that is a lie. By pursuing ambitions, you can lose your sense of purpose, and thus the guiding light that gives you direction.

Today, I found out that these two parts of yourself don’t need to work together. Your purpose and your dreams are two totally different things. I’m not completely sure how it all works, but I do know that one side of me, the ambitious side who at one point desired immortality, now wants to seek true courage in life, and the side of me who was lost is now seeking to find his way again. He was thrown back into the winds of life, where a thousand temptations exist, where things are spontaneous and unknown.

It’s weird but true: I can seek greater courage in one area of life, and at the same time seek direction elsewhere. I think I must have just been afraid to be lost, afraid to have other options open, and other directions.

See? That’s what happens. Often in life, we sacrifice our ability to choose for the sake of having one certain goal for ourselves. We dislike the uncertainty – we’d rather have someone else tell us what to do, or come up with one particular thing to seek. Always avoiding opening ourselves up to being lost, being uncertain. But at the same time, we give up getting to choose to seek new things that feel right to ourselves.

But you know what? Sometimes, we’re afraid to even consider that we’re ignoring what’s important to us. We get so damn nervous because we’re avoiding the very thing we hold dear. But to that tense side of ourselves, the one who’s lost, if we were to just open up to those things that are truly important to us, and heck even to consider that we might be lost, we could relax again in knowing that the ever-changing choices we make are in line with what we truly feel is important.

That’s the thing about purpose. It’s not so much a goal as something important to you. Something that you want to remember when you make your choices. Imagine you are using pieces of string to mark your progress to a goal. Rather than going from point A to B with any kind of quality string you can find to get you there straightaway, you can go to A then C then Q then 5 then E then B, but the string marking that journey is of the finest quality you can dare to imagine. It’s the most precious thread. It’s that something you keep with you no matter where you go.

Purpose is not about goals. Staying true to what you long for, exploring what’s important in life and holding it close, defending it – that’s purpose. At least, according to me, but I’m kind of a newbie at all this, so take it what you will from it.

I think that’s why there’s the phrase “to do something with purpose” – you don’t do your purpose, you do it with purpose. What’s your purpose? Whatever is important to you – and to find that out, you need to feel it. Has nothing to do with reasoning.

So, think about it: what are your goals? Then ask, why do you do them? What kind of reasons do you have? Are your reasons truly important to you? Do you get the sense that you could improve your reasons at all?

For instance, I’m writing this blog article to share what I’m learning with the world. Well, with you, but I don’t know who exactly is reading this, so “the world” fits. Helping others is important to me, so doing this is relaxing and enriching. Another goal, though, might be making sure I’m communicating everything in my writing as well as possible. Why? Because I want to avoid people who misunderstand what I’m saying and leave the site disgruntled. Ok, that’s kind of important to me, so it’s like that lower quality string. But I don’t know a better way to achieve my goal yet, and I still want it, so I’ll put up with the way I know how. Now, I could tell myself, “well, it’s not to avoid misunderstanding, it’s to make sure that what I’m writing is understood by others so they can fully appreciate it.” And that feels a bit better, but I know that it bugs me whenever I watch or check myself doing anything, regardless of what it is.

So how do I improve the quality of my string? Haha, I don’t know! But I have a sense now that instead of pursuing things constantly, running away from the pain that comes with losing what’s important to me, I want to defend those things instead. I want to know what’s important to me, and defend it. That, somehow, makes sense. No idea how I’ll do it, or what, or when or any of that – but I know why: because things in life are precious to me, and I want to defend them.

So remember: when you lose your way, OR when you feel like what you’re doing isn’t important to you – take the time to reconnect with what is important. Feel it – you don’t need goals or direction right off the bat, but you could use a guiding light. And I feel like you’ll find that light in what is truly precious to you.

Further Reading

Article on Discovering your Life Purpose in about 20 minutes

“What am I doing with my life?” – an article about using tough, introspective questions as a way of uncovering how you want to live your life on small and large scales

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