The secret to living a purposeful life

The chicken or the egg? The purpose or the activity?

The former is open for debate. The latter is not.

Activity always precedes purpose.

When we witness someone enlivened by the power of purpose we are awestruck. Their actions and their thoughts take on a rigor and vitality that is both the envy and the inspiration of us all.

But when we turn away we find ourselves muttering that if only we had a purpose we could achieve the same feats of achievement and accomplishment.

If only we had some higher purpose willing us onwards through the cacophony of distraction and obstruction we could be like them.

We think that their purpose inspires their action. It doesn’t. We’ve got it mixed up.

Purpose comes (if it comes at all) after a long time spent blundering through the darkness. We find it always by accident, never through deliberate search. We come upon it when we have forgotten to look for it. It seeks us when we stop pursuing it.

It doesn’t start us off. It amplifies the momentum we have already built.

I know, that’s not very helpful.

But what is helpful is to remember that we increase our chances of finding a purpose when we live wider and live deeper.


Connect with people. Try many things. Experiment with ideas. Find ways to help yourself and help others. Pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings. Plug your weaknesses and exploit your strengths. Denarrate. Listen. Focus on what matters.

Do this for long enough and you might just unearth that special thing called purpose.

If not it doesn’t matter. You’ll have lived widely and lived deeply. Your time will not have been wasted. You will have made an impact.

And if you’ve done that, what does it matter if your life didn’t follow a particular pattern?

If you’ve lived wide and deep, who cares about an overarching purpose?