I recently started a thread in the Off-topic part of that brilliant creative discussion forum of AH.com. It was about the purpose of life, and if people had found it.
Well, why not?
Anyway, I received a handful of replies to the question “Do you feel you have a mission or purpose in life?” over Christmas.
Some were very long and well-thought out.
Others were simply “no” (!)
I’ve decided to copy my answer here, and I will follow up with more if more comes along. I hope it does.
Sometimes we should take more time to discuss that little thing called purpose in life.
Here is my answer:
Thank you for all the input so far!
I’ve been moved, both by the people writing about their obvious deep thought and passion about this subject, and by those who flatly denied that it had any merit in their lives.
I’m not going to comment for now on any one of your contributions, because this evening I don’t feel it is my place. I was mostly interested in sharing and learning. Perhaps if the thread lives a bit longer we can discuss some of the finer points, but I think it is worth remembering that this topic is – as has been amply demonstrated already – something very subjective, and thus very different to each of us.
I haven’t really shared my own experience yet and I won’t tire you with it for too long. But after reading what you had to say, but the short ones and the long ones, I felt it was appropriate to add my own context, just the Cliffs Notes version:
1) Since I was relatively young (early 20s – I’m 42 today) I’ve felt drive to share something with the world and to contribute to it in some way. It has not been that clear ever what way it would be, although I feel I have come closer to defining it in recent years (see next).
2) I feel I have, more or less, ‘leaned into’ a mission of sorts – something concrete to do which is also meaningful, and which is compatible with earning an income that could be significant.
You see, I teach website and webshop building, content-writing and online marketing for small enterprises. I like to think that I’m fulfilling a mission of educating mostly solo-entrepreneurs with few resources about how best to succeed online. I like to think I’m doing good service by helping them to avoid buying expensive or poorly constructed service packages from larger bureaus or hosting-companies, if they can find a cheaper and more fitting solutions elsewhere for their needs.
Admittedly it’s not like I’m saving the world with this type of work, but less is fine with me. And I feel it is a worthy type of work – and mission.
3) As for ‘purpose’, I do feel that I’d like generally to share experiences, about all sorts of things in life, to help people live better, happier, more prosperous lives overall.
So I suppose there is an overlap between this ‘purpose’ and the aforementioned ‘mission’ which makes it kind of concrete and often opens for opportunities to discuss other things that make up a good life (such as handling stress). That’s what I like working one-on-one with small firms.
In the beginning you may talk a lot about the tech, then the marketing and sales, then priorities overall and then you end up, sometimes, sharing some more concrete experiences about how to deal with a loved one’s death while at the same time going to work and making money. Not all the time, but some times!
In addition to that I also blog, interact on social media and try to be a helpful and loving person privately, but that is more like a ‘general purpose’ – or guiding star, if you will. It’s just someone I want to be, but not very concrete admittedly, and definitely not something you could make a movie about or write a book about, like: “How I found my life purpose of doing X” or some such. It is far too non-concrete to be defined that way, what I do in daily life to feel that I’m contributing and acting to be the person I want to be.
But perhaps one should not always look for definitions and conceptual shelves for all things? Well, obviously I have a need to do just that, to some degree, and in order to understand myself and others better.