Steve Pavlina helps us find our purpose

June 17, 2006

Steve Pavlina has a ridiculously organized mind.  He must not have killed all of his brain cells like I have.  I don't know how he does it but he takes very vague and ambiguous ideas and turns them into steps and sub-steps until something as confusing and potentially frustrating as thinking about your purpose becomes as easy as making popcorn.

The quest for purpose is broken down into four components, and an ideal purpose would satisfy each component equally.  The pieces are related to body, mind, heart, and spirit.   

  1. Body.  What do you need to survive? Your purpose should satisfy your survival needs… this includes not only food, water, air, and shelter, but also financial needs.  How much money do you need?
  2. Mind.  What can you do?  Your purpose should be within your abilities.  What skills do you have?  What skills do you have the ability to acquire? 
  3. Heart.  What do you want to do?  Your purpose should be something you're passionate about.  What do you absolutely love to do?  What kinds of things do you love to do?
  4. Spirit.  What should you do?  What does your conscience make you feel like you should do, as a member of your family, your friend circle, your country, and the world?

Each of these components needs to be satisfied in a purpose.  Fill out each of these circles and see if there are any things that fit into all four circles?  If nothing immediately pops out (if it were that easy, most likely you would have solved this problem long ago) you can begin working on the circles themselves.  Maybe you can explore surviving on less, or learning something new, or experimenting with new activities and projects to see if they strike a passionate nerve, or exploring your conscience and trying to get to the bottom of what you feel your contribution to this world really should be.

I went through these steps and think that my purpose is to invent new ways to improve the lives of friends, neighbors, and acquaintences.  Invention includes creating new businesses, events, games, and ideas, each of which exist in markets that reward invention.  I feel like I'm on a good roll with increasing the boundaries of creativity that I exist within.  I love rallying myself and the people near me to new adventures, experiments, and realizations about the world we live in.  And just recently I think I've come to terms with the true value of mutual-improvement… by engaging in a non-zero sum game of collaboration, participation, and edification, everyone can win and grow together.

Steve Pavlina's podcast goes into a lot more detail and organized articulation of the subtleties of this exercise.  Listen to it here:

Pavlina-015-What-Is-Your-Purpose.mp3
(Time = 30:10, Size = 13.8MB)

And, to follow up, read up on more of his purpose-related blog posts here.  Nice work, Steve.

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