This post on 8 May, Questions about Purpose, mentioned how “The Purpose of Life” or variations on that theme were one of the most frequently discussed topics on Quora.
Roberta, a regular visitor and publisher of her own unique blog with its wonderful recipes and food photos, More Thyme Than Dough ,left a comment to that post which prompted me to add this reply:
“That’s interesting, I only remember “goals” becoming a big buzz word in my 30’s before that as you say, people quietly got on with advancing themselves without making a big fuss about it.
I wonder if those pioneers of industrial development or territorial acquisition in the 18th & 19th centuries thought about goals and purpose? Or did they just get on and do it?”
To which Roberta replied:
“I agree. They just ‘get on’ and ‘do it’.
It has taken the baby boomers, of which I am one, to examine ourselves ad nauseam.
What company was it – Nike? – who said: “Just do it!” That’s my philosophy.”
I am convinced that there is gold in the words “Just Do It”.
Robert Byrne’s quotation comes to mind:
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
That was what prompted me to recall the amazing achievements of those pioneers in many fields in the 18th and 19th centuries.
My late father was stationed in India before WW2, as a child I was fascinated by his stories of the scale of organisation and infrastructure in that country that had been developed over the preceding two centuries. Without computers, not even telephones or telegraph for most of the period.
Huge trading empires were built at a time when the only means of communication was by hand written letter sent by ship, train, animal drawn cart and human runners, taking months to reach its destination.
People in the far-flung reaches of the empire often had to make important decisions without the luxury of consulting up the chain of command or waiting for instructions. Their purpose was clear, to stay alive and do their job. Lives of purpose.
They just did it.
More recently, in our baby boomer generation’s lifetime, man got to the moon and back safely without the help of personal computers, GPS systems, cell phones, the Internet or social media.
Are we making our lives too complicated with this quest for finding our purpose?
Searching for it can be a wonderful justification for procrastination. The Internet and social media excellent tools for feeding that habit.
Yes we need a mission in life, it helps to be passionate about what we do, to turn our mission into a crusade.
But to make progress, we have to take action. Not spend hours trying to find our purpose, define it, conjure up artistic ways of describing it or discuss it endlessly on social media platforms.
Richard Bach put it this way:
“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t”
If we start with the purpose of improving all areas of our lives, contributing to our own success and that of others, we will discover our mission.
Action, experience and successes and failures will help us focus on our mission and reveal our true purpose.
In other words – Just Do It.
That’s the power of purpose.