With the days blurring together more and more, it’s been making me more pensive. What’s the point of life? Spend the first 20 years in education, then the next 30+ years working hard and building assets, only to then retire when our bodies are too old to do the stuff we really want.
These days when I’m taking care of parents, both around 80 years old, it makes me understand there’s a balance between living for the now versus saving for the future. No amount of wealth will help my dad regain his mental acuity. My mom was having a hard time recovering from some ailment and texted me, “just don’t get old, it’s hard.” So I replied back with, “Mom, I promise to never get old.”
In this article, I’ll give you practical advice on how to find the purpose of life. Simple steps you can do to make that revelation happen.
3 Things You Can Do Today to Help Find Purpose
Follow this logic:
- Having a strong purpose results in increased happiness, fulfillment, and a longer life.
- By reducing stress, you’ll have an increased clarity and chance to find your purpose.
- The #1 source of stress are money & work, followed by family & relationships.
My advice on how to do something right now to lower stress:
- Money — Use a free service like Mint.com to track and categorize all your spending. Easily see trends and set budgets. I’ve been using them for at 5 years now, and as far as I know, there’s not another Johnny Nguyen out there. Haha.
- Relationships — Each morning, think of a relationship that you haven’d paid enough attention to lately. Then send them a text to just checkin with how they’re doing. Be proactive in caring for relationships before they become a problem.
- Work — We all know that the first couple hours at work are the most important and should be reserved for ‘deep work.’ Well, before you get started with anything, ask yourself what is the one thing that must get done, otherwise the day has been a waste. Don’t lose focus of that one thing.
“Our difficulties are not material; they are due, in my opinion to the failure of financial and political leadership in the world, and particularly in America. They are due to a failure to be able to use the super-abundance of wealth which we have been able to produce. We have failed in the development of our political and financial system, to keep pace with our economic and scientific development.” — Marriner S. Eccles 
Achieve ‘Flow’ and Discover Your Purpose
I’ve noticed people who have a clear purpose in life are usually so inspiring.
Take Nadia Murad, a 1028 Nobel Prize winner, who was tortured and raped by Islamic State militants, and has gone on to be an inspirational leader for awareness and survivors of genocide and sexual violence, starting the Nadia’s Initiative.
Or take Jim Lee, publisher and Chief Creative Officer for DC Comics. He actually graduated as a medical doctor but his passion was in drawing comics. After graduating and still living at home, he asked his parents to give him one year to break into comic. If he didn’t break in by then, he’s pursue his medical career. He’s now a comic good icon and inspired me growing up to draw.
We might not discover our life’s calling today, but we will get one step closer with today’s lesson.
Your goal is to achieve a state of ‘flow.’
If you’re unfamiliar with what ‘flow’ is, it’s the, “state of intense absorption in which we forget our surroundings and ourselves.” In other words, when you’re so wrapped up doing something and time just flies by. That’s ‘flow.’ It feels great because when you’re ‘in the zone,’ you’re typically doing something you think you’re good at and you have absolutely clarity in what needs to be done.
Step back and it’s no surprise that, “purpose is closely linked to ‘flow’.” Next time you achieve flow, take a mental note of what you were working on. I’m going to venture a guess that’s your purpose. Lock in on to that and find more reasons to do more of it.
Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, who recognized and named the psychological concept of flow, draws the conclusion: The more flow we experience, the happier we feel.
Forget What You Know About Finding Purpose
Couple week’s ago, China introduced yet another law meant to severely limit (or crush entirely) the democratic society of Hong Kong.
“The latest assertion of control comes in the form of a new draft security law for Hong Kong, outlawing secession, subversion and terrorism, without defining what they are.” — Arab News
Just last year we saw the unprecedented protest by Hong Kong, which was absolutely inspiring. To believe in a cause so fully that you’d be willing to take to the streets, day after day, week after week.
With China’s latest crackdown and the response from Hong Kong, there’s an important lesson in there that relates to finding our purpose in life. Maybe our purpose isn’t something to find, rather it’s something we need to rise to the occasion of and then keep working at it, despite hardships.
I visited Hong Kong a few years ago and in the spirit of one of their most famous cultural ambassadors:
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” — Bruce Lee
It’s a romantic thought that one day we’ll discover our life’s purpose with absolute clarity. For those that can clearly articulate their life’s purpose with so much certainty and conviction, I’m happy for you.
But for most of us, it’s a grind. Perhaps we’re not afforded the luxury to sit and ponder deep thoughts while on extended vacation, or maybe we just have too many responsibilities in life to spend time finding our purpose.
I like how Haque proposes a different way to think about finding purpose:
Follow the NASCAR Principle: Purpose is found by driving laps cleaner, closer to the textbook Platonic ideal, than the next contender — and so achieving a faster time. 
Takeaway is, “purpose is a thing you build, not a thing you find.” And, your purpose can change and evolve over time. What your purpose is today can change tomorrow, as we enter different phases of our life. My advice to you is to remove the stress of not having a purpose in life. Instead, take a little comfort that we’re carving it out, one day at a time.
5 Personality Traits of People With Purpose
If you’re reading this email, then you’re here to learn tips and trick to be more positive and productive. Perhaps most fundamental to achieving any of that is having a clarity of purpose in our life.
I’ll be honest with you, I have lots of different purposes in life. When I’m with my parents, the purpose is to take care of them in their old age. When I’m at work, it’s being the best leader and team player possible. When I’m with my significant other, it’s being present and attentive. And when I’m here typing, it’s to deliver the most practical content that’ll make a difference in your life.
My point is in our quest to be a better person, the go easy on ourselves and acknowledge that fact that we even care is a good thing. I’ll highlight some personality traits that I’d bet you have already. Celebrate that fact. And when you’re ready, continue on the journey to be a better person.
Here are 5 traits that should help with you finding a purpose in your life. Like our last email talked about, it’s not about a giant epiphany, but rather carving and building a life’s purpose, one day at a time. Plus, over time your purpose will change, and you’ll pivot. But here are the traits that’ll serve you well over the long run.
- Don’t compromise on your purpose, on your values, or on your integrity. It’s ok to not know what your purpose is yet, but don’t dilute it by talking about “passion” or “dreams” or “bucket lists.”
- Highly value work and responsibility, which basically means you understand it’ll take lots of hard work, over a long time, to achieve anything of worthwhile. Purpose isn’t a quick, get-rich scheme.
- Emphasize what you can control rather than what you cannot. If I believe I can control the outcome in my life, chances are I’ll also believe I can find a purpose for my life. There’s got to be an interesting Venn diagram on how religion fits into this trait. Your thoughts?
- Be compassionate, and resist the temptation to feel envy and resentment of others. It’s easy to look at others and ask, “why are they so lucky or what did they do to deserve that.” Instead, just be happy for them and the universe will reward your positive thinking.
- Spend less time immersed in the chatter of our minds, which often triggers negative thoughts and feelings. Stop doubting everything and just do something. The doing will result in one step closer to achieving something.
Today, I challenge you celebrate the trait that you already have. Nice job playa.
- What Brings Meaning and Purpose in Life? by Tyler J. VanderWeele Ph.D.
- The Power of Purpose by Steve Taylor Ph.D.
- How to Finally Find Your Purpose by Anna Akbari Ph.D.
- You Don’t Find Your Purpose — You Build It by John Coleman
- Find Purpose in Even Your Most Mundane Tasks at Work by Valerie Keller and Caroline Webb
- Find Your Purpose and Put It to Work — HBR Video
- How to Let Your Purpose Find You by Umair Haque
- The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business by Umair Haque
- Major depressive episode in the past year among U.S. adults by age and gender 2018, Published by John Elflein, Aug 29, 2019
- Causes of suicidal thoughts in France 2017, Published by Statista Research Department, Feb 9, 2016
- Depression : Its Causes, Effects and Suggested Remedies, Box 74, Folder 2, Item, by Eccles, Marriner S. (Marriner Stoddard), 1890–1977; DATE: June 17, 1932; PART OF: Federal Reserve Papers, Subseries III
- Top sources of stress reported in U.S. adults, by ethnicity 2015, Published by Statista Research Department, Mar 8, 2016
- Stressed in America, January 2011, Vol 42, №1, by R.A. Clay
- How to Maintain a State of Creative ‘Flow’ by Corey McComb
- Poll: Who Finds the Most Meaning in their Lives? By Emily Ekins