After I finished a personal growth speech recently, a young lady from the audience approached me and said: “Mr. Hicham, you have covered some interesting points today. Thank you. However, I have to oppose the idea of having a life purpose.”
I said, “Sure, tell me more.”
She replied passionately: “Well, you said that in order to be able to achieve success in life, we must have a life purpose. But I feel that having a plan or a purpose will restrict me from the flexibility of enjoying life as it comes. Life is a journey. I don’t want to be tied up with some plan and objectives. I want to live one day at a time.” We discussed the pros and cons of having a life purpose for what seemed a long time and left that conversation where it started.
In fact, this was not the first conversation I have had on this subject. People seem to differ a lot about the necessity of having a clear purpose as a precursor to achieving success.
So, do we need to have a clear purpose to enjoy success in our lives?
This is a tricky question. Let me give it a try.
In the course of my life so far, and in observing the lives of people I have been coaching, a clear pattern has emerged. People who have a purpose seem to have more energy, more passion, more patience, persistence, and are far happier and fulfilled than those that do not have a purpose.
Now, life purpose does not have to be some grand scheme that will change the course of humanity. Your life purpose is what makes you passionate. Period.
Your life purpose can be to keep educating yourself. To learn four languages. To be a good father or mother. To serve your parents. To be a good family person. To be a spiritual person. To become filthy rich. To be healthy. Or, it can be an achievement that will change the history of mankind. It doesn’t really matter.
What matters is you know what makes you passionate. What matters is to know what’s important to you because it will inform your actions and decisions. When you have something that you are passionate about, it will motivate you to wake up in the morning and get to work. It’s easier for our brain to function optimally when we have a purpose or a goal to focus on. The human brain contains something called Reticular Activating System (RAS). RAS is responsible for directing our attention to what we focus on and channel our energies for achieving it. If RAS has no focus, its energy is wasted in aimless wander.
So, here is the bottom line. If you know what’s important to you in this life, what makes you tick, you definitely need a life purpose to guide you and motivate you to take the action to achieve what’s important for you to achieve. And you need to have a plan. Why? Because a clear plan will minimize the distractions and help you make a decision and to say Yes or No.
Do people with a plan have a higher chance to achieve some kind and level of success?
Yes. It’s simple!
It is easier to find what you want, or ask for what you want, when you know what you want. When I work with my life coaching clients, the first thing I ask them is: what do you aim to achieve from our conversations? What is the purpose of this session? Some people have clear defined answers, while others are clueless. No matter what the situation is, we spend a good deal of time defining precisely what they plan to achieve from coaching before moving to the next level. This first step is extremely important for both of us because we refer to our purpose every time I feel that we are deviating from the main conversation.
I don’t think this young lady who asked me meant to say she wants to live her life aimlessly. Far from it. In fact, she actually told me that she has a clear education purpose. I believe what she meant is to be flexible with your life and your plans. And, I totally agree.
No purpose should be set in stone, and no plan is going to be perfect from the beginning. People change. Circumstances change. Sometimes people discover new passions and interests, or simply lose interest in their current passion. It’s Ok. Losing passion must not be a cause of alarm or disappointment. If you have what it takes to discover what’s important to you once, you will discover it again and again as long as you keep looking and asking the right questions.
When you define your purpose and your plan, you start investing your efforts towards achieving it. You learn a lot of skills and you accumulate priceless knowledge and experience, which you can use while pursuing other purposes in life. You live with passion and energy because you have something to look forward to.
When you wander aimlessly without a clear map, you are like a ship in the middle of the sea without a clear direction. The winds blow its sails into different directions until it gets crashed, lost, drowned, or cast in some strange islands. The wind might also send it to Happiness Island, but that is only a matter of mere chance.
If you don’t have a clear purpose, it’s fine. A friend of mine became quite rich. When he first started out, he did not plan to become rich. What was important for him is to take care of his family, especially his parents. He obsessed on the idea of taking care of his parents and siblings financially – this motivated him to work harder and harder on his craft and on himself. He told me that he never dreamed of owning more than one house but now owns half a dozen. Taking care of his family was so important to him until it became his purpose without him being aware of it as a purpose. The thought of purchasing a nice house for his family kept him awake at night and motivated him to get to work in the morning. On the way to achieving what was important to him, he accumulated financial wealth, good friends, and a host of life and business skills that are helping him today to stay successful.
What’s important for you?
What makes you lose sleep at night?
What will you want to achieve if I give you a magic wand today?