What Do You Really Want – Path to Purpose


If you could have anything in the world, what would you want.

Finding Purpose

How do you stay motivated and relevant after you retire, lose you life partner or see all your children launched? You decide on what you want the purpose of the next decades of your life to be. Don’t forget that half of women who are 65 years now will live into their 90’s.

Your purpose can be to do something about global warming or become a scratch golfer or take up a new sport. In the Art of the Impossible, author, Steven Kotler says that your purpose should be at the intersection of your passion and your curiosity – something that is very meaningful to you. This idea must keep you engaged because you will not accomplish your purpose for many years so whatever you choose, it needs to keep you motivated.

Setting Goals

So how do you know that you are moving towards your purpose? You set goals. Kotler describes them as High Hard Goals. These are goals that you cannot reach in a short period. While your purpose may take you a lifetime to achieve, your high hard goals will take three year or more.

If you choose a purpose such as taking action on global warming, your first goal may be to learn about all the issues and find an area of the problem where you can really make a difference. This might mean reading about all aspects of the issue and deciding what interests you and where you will feel most comfortable. It could also mean that you will interview people or follow programs in the areas where you feel passionate.

Why Set Goals Now

For many people who have had high pressure jobs with crushing deadlines, this can sound like getting back into the rat race – everything that this time of your life is not supposed to be. The difference here is that YOU can set the goals and deadlines. You can follow your passion and not have to deliver to anyone but yourself.

The big question is why? Why not just do things that you like to do like taking a trip, going on a cruise, or just hanging out and letting things happen. The answer is that human beings are naturally set to grow and expand. Without goals, you have no way to measure your growth and without growth you will become diminished. Life will just not be as interesting.

Four Considerations to Help You Set Motivational Goals

What can we say about goals that will help you set them so that they are meaningful in getting you closer to your purpose? Author, Eyelet Fishback talks about goals in her book, Get It Done. She says that if you want to stay motivated you have to think carefully about your goals and how they drive you to accomplish them. Here are her top four recommendations:

  • Pick something that excites you and make sure that it is positive e.g. fitting into that dress you love not losing weight. Fishback calls this ‘approaching’ rather than ‘avoiding’. This fits with Kotler’s idea of choosing goals that interest you and that you can get passionate about them.
  • Be specific and quantifiable. While you may want to ‘become more knowledgeable on environmental issues’, how will you know when you have reached that place. A goal like having read a certain number of books or gone to x number of workshops will help you feel like you have reached that goal.
  • Have incentives that will keep you interested. These incentives should be more immediate and fit the goal. For example, it could be that you will attend a climate change conference in Paris when you have read a certain number of books on the subject. While this will get you closer to your goal, it will also mean having a special trip to a beautiful city.
  • Build on your own intrinsic motivation. This is a time in your life when you can set your own goals. Make sure that you are doing what you want not what someone else is telling you to do or what you think is expected of you. If you really want to be a scratch golfer rather than deal with global warming, that is what you should do.

Examining your purpose, thinking about goals, considering all your options will get you closer to having a more meaningful life that gets you excited about living every day. Don’t lose your mojo in the name of stress reduction. You can have it all!

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