“So the meaning of the Grail and of most myths is finding the dynamic source in your life so that its trajectory is out of your own center and not something put on you by society. Then, of course, there is the problem of coordinating your well being with the goods and needs of the society. But first you must find your trajectory, and then comes the social coordination.” ~ Joseph Campbell
A good 6 months ago I was sitting in a Whole Foods Market in Midtown Detroit with a friend when I happened to meet truly, the world’s most interesting man.
He was fat, jolly, and judging by his six year old girl eyeglasses, I wasn’t sure if he was a mad man or a genius—turns out he’s both.
My first impressions were difficult to grasp, “Perhaps just another homeless Detroiter,” I thought to myself. But it just couldn’t be so, not when I saw his choice of lunch was a head of organic green leaf lettuce. My interest grew as my friend and I pondered the possibilities of this mysterious Yugoslavian Santa Claus’s purpose.
Was he here to enlighten us? Did he pay for that lettuce? No guacamole? Who was this man, and why was he in my life?
What’s a Source?
A week or so later I get news from my friend that he had spoken with the exceptionally health conscious homeless man. His name was Ivan, and though my friend didn’t have much to say about him he assured me of his allure by proclaiming, “He’s a genius dude.” Trusting my friend’s judgment I knew had to talk to him myself.
Sure enough, he comes to sit down with us that day. My first thought was that he was reading our minds. He was extremely extroverted, charismatic and the energy he put out alone screamed wisdom. I was fascinated and knew in that moment my life was going to be forever changed.
One of the very first things Ivan asked us was, “What’s a source?” I will never forget how that question got me thinking. The first thing I realized; questions are fundamentally more important than answers. Secondly, that I didn’t know anything. I remember my brain cramping trying to answer that question honestly.
Eventually I got it right…
A source is the point of origin, the very beginning of something being created. In a word, source is cause.
This simple question changed the entire course of my life. What began that day was a journey to real self-discovery, becoming self-determined, and taking 100% responsibility for being the total cause for my life. My days of being a victim were over.
Creating a Purpose Statement
What I want to share with you is a journey I spent the course of three years studying, learning and experimenting with. Though I don’t expect you to discover your true purpose with the read of one article—who knows, maybe you will—rather, my intentions are to spark that very center of you to brave the journey of becoming self-determined.
Becoming self-determined, in my experience, is a process—some days you have it all figured out, others you’ve realized there are still social implants lingering about. Be easy with yourself. The less serious you take it, the easier it is to confront the courageous act of creating yourself.
So throw away your worries; this isn’t to be taken seriously. In fact, I don’t advise seriousness in any case. You can change your statement at anytime. You are the creator of your life. This may be the first time you’ve heard this, so take it for what you will. For this exercise at least, have fun. Paint over, erase, rewrite or destroy the statement as you choose.
1. List 15 characteristics of your self.
You may have previously considered some of them to be negative or “bad,” but you can transform them in developing your life purpose. For example, I used to think I thought too much. When creating an identity as a writer, thinking, became my best attribute. I’ve transformed deep thinking into the very thing to fuel creative writing and understanding people’s problems. Now, I find myself thinking less than ever because I can reduce it to an hour or so a day writing. Now for yourself, you may be intelligent, funny, witty, driven, weird or goofy. Don’t prejudge these characteristics, you never know the many ways you can transmute them into gold. Have fun and get all 15.
2. Circle your five favorite personality traits.
Do this one quickly; don’t think about it so much. Otherwise you may very well rationalize yourself out of something true to you. From here out too I advise you to choose honesty over heroism. Don’t try to create some impressive sounding traits or choose what ones you think you “should be.” Choose what comes most effortless to you.
1. How do you enjoy expressing your unique personality traits into real world action?
Referencing your personality traits loosely, make a list of 15 actions and behaviors that express these traits enjoyably. For example, I am naturally witty and one of my favorite ways to express this is by making social media posts that add some comedic relief to the day. As you can see, this isn’t some momentous personality trait and I’m not saving the world—I am expressing myself fully and boldly. Maybe you like to cook, sing, walk in nature, dance, do yoga, dress a certain way, collect art, listen inventively or help with the dishes. There is no such thing as an insignificant expression. I bet I could go online and find a woman killing it knitting socks for llamas.
2. Next, pick your five favorite expressions and circle them.
Write a short statement—just a few sentences or so—of your vision of an ideal world. “My ideal world is one in which…”
Write the vision in present tense and in terms of how you want it to be rather than how you want it not to be. While existences is out of our control, the world is our perception, we’re in control if it, were constantly creating it.
Put it all together.
The last step is a bit of an art project. In fact, just the act of creating a life purpose statement is creative in itself. Lets have some fun…
On a blank sheet of paper write: “The purpose of my life is to use my… (insert your five favorite personality characteristics) by (insert your five favorite behaviors) to bring about a world in which (fill in your ideal world statement).
Congratulations, you’re the creator of your life!
Remember, this is just a good draft of your life purpose and can change over the course of your life. As you grow rich in experience your purpose will refine. When significant moments occur in your life: new careers, friends, finding your soul mate, falling in love, etc, go back and edit, refine, or redo it completely. Carry your statement with you and make it your personal mission to live each moment on purpose, courageously and proudly.
Author: Nick Kowalski
Editor: Travis May
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