Short reminders to stay focused on your purpose
Several months after getting out of a Nazi concentration camp, the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl developed Logotherapy.
That’s a school of psychotherapy based on a purpose-driven life. Frankl believed the primary motivational force of an individual is to find meaning.
And I couldn’t agree more. We all need to create our purpose. We can find meaning in life if we try. But we have to be mentally strong enough to make that happen.
Among Frankl’s books is Yes to Life, which discusses his thoughts on resilience and embracing life even in the face of great adversity.
Frankl published the book in 1946, barely a year after World War II ended. But I think it’s highly relevant now that the world is going through one massive challenge after the other.
Life will always come with hardship. That’s out of our control. So saying “yes” to life is all about our mindset and how we react. As Frankl puts it:
“To say yes to life is not only meaningful under all circumstances — because life itself is — but it is also possible under all circumstances.”
Taking inspiration from Frankl’s book, here are 10 other quotes I found from people who also had a clear sense of purpose.
- “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
This is from Frankl’s most popular book, Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s a very stoic way to look at life. Since many things are out of our control, when we decide how we react to something — it makes all the difference.
- “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
Though she was deaf and blind, Hellen Keller managed to become one of the most influential authors in the world. Her words remind us of the importance of doing the little things.
Life isn’t always about “the big picture.” Making a good life strategy involves both planning and execution.
- “Many of us have been running all our lives. Practice stopping.”
Saying yes to life also means slowing down enough to appreciate it. Try not to be productive every single minute. We all need moments of rest and quiet to have the time and mental space for deeper thinking.
As the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh said above; practice stopping too.
- “A person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weakness, let alone on something one cannot do at all.”
The management consultant Peter Drucker is known for authoring the book, Managing Oneself. I think that’s a great book for people to really know their strengths. It’s also very short so you can read it quickly.
As Drucker explained, most people think they know what they’re good at. But unless they’re using a Feedback Analysis based on actual results, they’re likely wrong.
- “Becoming is better than being”
The American psychologist, Carol Dweck, says it well. There’s no such thing as a “finish line” in becoming better. We’re constantly evolving and changing.
Movement is important. We must avoid being stagnant in life.
- “If I can relate to the joke, it’s going to be funny.”
One of the stand-up comedians I enjoy is Sebastian Maniscalco. He reminds everyone not to take life too seriously.
In his book, Stay Hungry, he talks about his life in a funny way while giving insight into being relentless in one’s career. So if you’re thinking of quitting your career, check out his book first!
- “Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns.”
The psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach, talks about change insightfully. Making a major change in our lives is difficult because we can get stuck in our comfort zone.
But remember that you’re free. You can do what you want with your life. Don’t let bad habits keep you from making progress.
- “What makes a decision great is not that it has a great outcome. A great decision is the result of a good process.”
We can make good decisions with bad outcomes. And vice versa. Because outcomes are not in our control. The best we can do is improve our decision-making process.
Annie Duke, author of Thinking in Bets, suggests asking yourself these 6 questions before you make a major life decision.
- “There are no shortcuts — everything is reps, reps, reps.”
That’s a great quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger that also applies to our careers. While it’s important to put in the reps if you want to get stronger, it’s the same if you want to improve your skills.
When you’re tempted to rely on hacks or shortcuts or simply laze off, then remember it’s all about the reps.
- “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
This is a good reminder from the stoic Roman philosopher, Marcus Aurelius.
When we’re self-aware of our thoughts, we take charge of our mindset. Social media, the news, and all sorts of things are competing for your attention. Don’t let them manipulate you.
Avoid false purposes
When people pursue something that’s not truly meaningful to them, they end up with a false purpose. And they become unsatisfied and unhappy with their lives. This is something we want to avoid.
Here are a few indicators to check if you’re potentially chasing after a false purpose.
Often bored — Staring at the clock until work is over so you can randomly binge-watch on Netflix? Or browsing social media for hours because there’s nothing better to do? Whenever you do something “just to pass the time,” we call that boredom. It’s an aimless way to live.
Being chronically stressed, anxious, and depressed — It’s a whole cycle. A person gets bored with their job and they’re frustrated by their lack of growth. Meanwhile, their crappy job stresses them out. And they become depressed. When you’re in this cycle, get out by taking massive action.
Feeling deeply insecure — We’re not always sure about ourselves. A little self-doubt now and then is fine. This keeps us from being overconfident. Just don’t be one of those big talkers who overcompensate for their lack of actual accomplishments.
People sometimes figure out their purpose earlier in life and become big successes.
Like Ryan Holiday who published his first book at 25. But there are others, like Colonel Harland Sanders, who delivered babies and practiced law before founding Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65.
It doesn’t matter when you decide to pursue your purpose. The important thing is you start and keep moving. Never compare yourself to others.
Focus on finding a mission in life that gives you the feeling of saying, “YES!” every morning when you wake up. I might not be that energetic every day, but the feeling must be there.
Contributed by Darius Foroux
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