Purpose and Motivation
A Personal Manifesto
The motives we display often differ from our true purpose. Finding and pursuing that true purpose is a major part of life’s mission. I hope these words may help you maximize your motivation through discovering and aligning with your true purpose, and in so doing find both happiness and fulfillment during this journey we call life.
It is better to be motivated towards a worthwhile goal rather than away from an uncomfortable situation. If you wish to change your present reality, decide first what you want to change it to, ie be focused in appropriate direction.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (Lao-tzu). The first step is often the hardest, but if you never make that first step, you will never get anywhere.
Focus on the Present, the Possible and the Positive
Accept the lessons of the past without succumbing to regret. Know your desired future without being an idle dreamer. Doing what’s right in the present is the only way to maximize the chance of creating your desired future.
Accept what can’t be altered, make best of what can.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference. (Niebuhr)
Some situations are impossible to resolve. All we can do is make them as least bad as possible and, so far as possible, focus our efforts on something more fruitful.
Focus on what you CAN do (not what you can’t!) Know, and play to, your strengths.
What you think about or focus on tends to be realized, so focus on the positive.
Realization of desires generally requires action on a physical level as well as positive thought.
Although harmony (both within and without) is the most comfortable state of affairs, creativity and progress are often most inspired by disharmony.
Zones of Comfort
We each have a:
- comfort zone – experiences that cause no stress
- semi-comfort zone – experiences we can face but with varying degrees of stress from almost zero to almost intolerable
- discomfort zone – experiences that would cause intolerable stress / be impossible
These zones differ from person to person, but also for an individual over time. Ideally the comfort and semi-comfort zones expand with experience. Venture into the semi-comfort zone in pursuit of your goals, but do so with conscious knowledge of the risks and potential implications.
By aiming low you will achieve little or nothing. By aiming high you may (or may not) fall short of your aspirations but you will almost certainly achieve more than if you aimed low, and will gain much more experience from the process.
Change is inevitable. By being proactive, ie setting goals and reviewing progress, we can best shape change to our desires rather than being a passive recipient of its effects. Don’t try to grasp any time, place or thing – it’s impossible; instead grasp the experience offered by all things and make it part of yourself.
What is My Purpose?
The basic purpose of all incarnate beings is the acquisition of experience through interaction with the world and other entities. The basic human purpose is to understand ourselves and the reality we are part of, and in light of our understanding to contribute as far as possible to the progress of that greater reality, and in so doing gain as much experience as possible from our time on earth.
More specifically, each incarnate human being has a unique life-role and life-purpose, as well as free-will.
Our life-role is our unique set of attributes: character, aptitudes, interests, weaknesses etc.
Our life-purpose is the specific way we will acquire experience.
Although the circumstances into which we are born are determined by Spirit (also known synonymously as God or source), life is not deterministic. The world contains: i) a multitude of entities with free-will, and ii) an inherent “randomness”. On occasion Spirit may also intervene to create certain conditions for the furtherance of some “higher” purpose. Despite these givens individual free will remains a major determinant of our destiny.
As we progress through life we (ie our life-role and life-purpose) are influenced by our environment and ongoing experiences, especially during our early life.
Our life-role and life-purpose determine our drives and goals.
Our drives are the inner forces (often hidden/subconscious) that cause us to act in certain ways.
Our goals are the things we want to achieve, and exist at various levels eg from a daily “to do” list to major personal/career objectives.
Our goals and drives together determine our strategy/ies, ie the choices we make and actions we take in order to best achieve our goals and satisfy our drives.
The incarnate mind/soul is complex with much taking place at the hidden/subconscious level. We often experience contradictions in our drives and goals that give rise to discomfort. Where contradictions are identified, precedence should be given to the stronger contender, ie that which is closer to our true (Spiritual) essence.
The Pursuit of Happiness
The pursuit of happiness is a major purpose of human existence. In seeking happiness we gain experience, which is our root purpose.
Satisfaction comes when motivation, efforts and rewards are aligned; ie identifying your true goals, working to fulfill them, and being rewarded according to your success.
Happiness is a fleeting state, varying from person to person and moment to moment. It can be as grand as following a clearly defined life purpose, or as simple as enjoying a tasty meal.
Happiness is a complex function of (in no particular order) freedom, free-time, freedom from stress, relationships, individual personality, health, purpose/fulfillment, wealth etc.
Wealth is important only while basic material needs are unsatisfied. Once a basic level of comfort is attained, additional money brings only slightly increased happiness, though it does (to some extent) increase the security of your existing state and gives the potential to do good in terms of support for worthwhile causes.
Keep all things in their true perspective. Seek emotional stability; avoid exuberance and depression, both are negative distractors. If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same… (Kipling).
Finding My Goals
Life is more purposeful, and thus more fulfilling, if we decide and pursue specific goals.
Our goals are influenced by our essential nature, incarnate character and prior influences, but also based on current free will.
Life offers numerous choices, many of which will hold some attraction. In choosing goals we need to determine:
- what most attracts us
- what is most likely to bring (some) fulfillment based on:
- our aptitudes
- given circumstances, eg external demand
Like most decisions, goals must be chosen with an element of uncertainty about the future. But with some reflection it should be possible to reach at least some idea of possible outcomes and likelihoods.
Most things can be changed to varying extents ranging from very little to a great deal. Consider this when deciding and prioritizing goals.
Simultaneous goals co-exist at different levels; eg life, project, day, task. From goals (what you want to achieve) comes strategy (how best to achieve it). From strategy comes action. Take time to review progress & adjust strategy and goals in light of experience. Goals are likely to change over time due to lessons of past experience, changing priorities and external circumstances.
“Events” happen that make our path harder or cause us to find a new path. Accept events and deal with them in accordance with overall purpose to best of ability. Don’t waste time/energy feeling depressed over what is – accept it and get on with it. Ask yourself: what can I do now / today / this week etc that best serves my goals – and do it.
Things will happen if they are “God’s” will, AND if you create the conditions for them; ie create conditions that make possible desired outcomes.
Our time is divided (broadly) between:
- survival/maintenance – sleeping, eating etc
- duty – work, family etc
1 & 2 are givens, though we may have some discretion on how much time they take. 3 is where we can apply our resources to best meet our goals. For a purposeful life it is essential to make the best of discretionary time. Schedule likely discretionary time over course of week and plan how best to utilize it.
Some goals are self-contained, others are steps towards greater goals. Each goals is of different priority and duration. Allocate discretionary time on basis of goal priorities.
Don’t spread yourself too thinly. Allow sufficient time and resources to focus on your few most important goals.
According to the Pareto principle, around 80% of rewards come from 20% of efforts. Thus try to identify most effective efforts and focus on doing more of the same.
Goals and Decision Making
Most of life’s decision points have no easily determined (or possible to determine) optimal choices. Our ‘instinctive’ response is often the most ‘reasonable’, but be aware of any prior distractions influencing the “gut” choice.
Logical, intuitive and emotional inputs are all necessary components of the decision-making process. The logical comes from weighing up the pros and cons of each option along with the likelihood and personal importance of each. Intuitive knowledge comes from Spirit, emotional knowledge comes from within (the subconscious). It is difficult to distinguish the intuitive from the emotional as both are experienced as (gut) feelings of being right or otherwise. Allow either faculty (thinking or feeling) the power of veto if a choice feels, or is logically proven, wrong.
Consider the likely future(s) of available choices. Some pathways have consequences (and costs) lasting long into the future. Seek to maximize likely future satisfaction, but also to minimize (likely) future discomfort.
There are no right or wrong choices. Different choices lead to different paths and different experiences. Some are undoubtedly more pleasant / meaningful / comfortable / easier than others. But all paths bring experience.
The cost of time/analysis in decision making must be weighed against importance of decision, eg buying an apartment should take longer than deciding what flavor ice cream to order.
Prediction is very difficult to impossible. Try to anticipate likely future scenarios and strategize accordingly. How can your strategy adapt as one scenario seems to pan out? How would your strategy cope with a “black swan” (completely unforeseen game changer)? Allow for contingency. Avoid “putting all your eggs in one basket”.
Constantly following the thinking of the masses results in mediocrity; but sometimes the thinking of the masses exists because it’s right, so where this appears so accept it. Accept nothing blindly, but give all available views open-minded consideration.