It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a quotes guy. When used correctly, a quote is like extracting a gem of advice from some of the wisest people to ever have lived.
(Side note: yes, I do think there’s an incorrect way to use quotes. More on that in another article.)
So I was all too happy when a good friend of mine sent me this piece of gold from Viktor Frankl:
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
Of course, I’ve read this quote before, but its message is always worth a reminder.
And at the same time, I couldn’t help but compare ‘success’ in this example to ‘purpose’, perhaps one of the most popular talking points today.
In other words: “Don’t aim for purpose. The more you try to find it, the more it escapes you. For purpose, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of dedicating your life to something bigger than yourself.”
This led me to another question: What if there wasn’t any purpose for you to find in the first place? (Sure makes answering “What is my purpose?” a whole lot easier!)
In fact, I believe this is the trick behind it all: Our purpose isn’t something to be found, it’s something to be created by us.
So make it up.
Start with the impact you want to make and work from there. Dedicate your life’s work to improving the lives of those around you. Aim to leave the world better than how you found it. And I assure you, your life will be filled with a sense of purpose.
And finally, don’t forget Viktor’s part about “a cause greater than oneself”. Too many people are looking for purpose in a selfish kind of way. But finding your purpose is not intended to bring you happiness. It’s intended to bring a sense of growth and contribution.
Don’t try to find your purpose. Create it.
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