Finding purpose in life is a challenge many people face at critical points throughout the course of their lives.
A good approach to doing this would be to read Paul Graham’s article ‘How to do what you love’ that was published in 2006. Paul Graham is the founder of Y-Combinator. The article is full of information and very beneficial to everyone seeking purpose. The part that is of great importance is where he touched on the merit metric of ‘prestige’. He rightfully labeled this attribute is false. You don’t have to worry about prestige; it is simply the opinion that the rest of the world has.
Paul Graham stated that if you have to worry about anyone’s opinion, it should be that of your friends and family.
The image of prestige is so powerful that it influences people to base their lives on what they would like to like and not on what they actually like. It warps the beliefs you have about what you enjoy.
If you are not sure of what we mean, look to ideas and life choices that are prestigious in the word now. If you search deeply into their history, you will find out that some of them were not considered prestigious at first.
If you are an ambitious fellow, don’t waste your time running after prestige. Most tasks baited with prestige are so because they suck. They are tasks that won’t progress your career if you only seek them.
Alain De Botton during his terrific 2009 TED talk spoke about success. He showed us a perspective that makes us realize that we don’t know what success means. We tend to cultivate ideas about success that are not ours. We have been programmed to think that we know everything success entails.
These ideas are not original ideas. We suck in these ideas daily from other people and the media. Instead of defining our own success, we set unrealistic expectations based on the standards set by society for us.
Without realizing it, this information we take in is very influential in the life choices we make. The power of the information can be seen in how people neglect their ideas and run after the ambitions of other people.
Hugh Macleod spoke on the need for setting boundaries in his book ‘Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity’. He made us realize the need to draw a line between what you can do and what you do not wish to do. This is very important in a professional’s life.
Do not let the need for money make you relinquish control of your life to your clients. Plan before you take on any job and avoid the ones that make you relinquish control.
Lewis Hyde in his classic ‘The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World’, spoke on work vs. labor. While reading this book, we understood the difference between creative labour and work. This takes us closer to understanding how to attain vocational fulfillment.
Simply stated, work is done for money. It is a task performed by the hour. You don’t get to set the pace for work. Labour, however, has its own schedule and set its pace. While it could also be performed for money, you can’t really quantify labor.
The rhythm of creative labor can’t be altered. Advance in work technology, however, will devalue the creativity of labor.
Steve Jobs in his 2005 Stanford commencement address advised people not to settle till they find their calling. He believes this can be achieved with the power of intuition.
Don’t settle for just any job. Since what you do is going to be a large part of your life, you have to seek satisfaction in your vocation if you want a fulfilling life. Just like all matters of the heart, when you find the job that will fit your purpose, you will know.
Robert Krulwich, the author of the Krulwich Wonders amongst other individual recognition of brilliance talked about how you have to love what you do. He talked about how building a career you love with the people you like rather than having notions of prestige and social validation will help you find meaning in life.