Life Purpose: Do You Have One?
by Asoka Selvarajah (e-mail: [April 13th, 2004]

What am I here? What is the purpose of my life? What contribution am I here to give to the world?

“Seeking your life purpose is a process, rather than a once and for all event. It could take a lot of time, or it could happen very quickly. That depends upon your degree of resolve, determination and effort.”

These are the questions that haunt and plague the majority of people. It seems to be more important to many people than making money or even developing their spiritually.

Evidence that some people definitely did come into the world with a specific life purpose seems common. You have the Mozarts, Picassos and Beethovens; people who displayed incred*ible talent and passion for their famous vocations at impossibly early ages. They seemed targeted towards their goal from the start; endowed in their very genes with the genius talents for which they are now world-famous.

How could this be?...

Doubtless, they doubtless programmed themselves with clear intent in previous lifetimes. Buddhism is a good analogy for this. Buddhist converts generally accept, even as they take their vows, that they are not really expecting to achieve Enlightenment in THIS lifetime. Rather, they are commencing a process that may take thousands, if not millions, of rebirths before their goal is achieved. They have set themselves a goal greater than the span of their own life, or of even many consecutive lifetimes.

That is how it may be with the geniuses of history. They come into incarnation seemingly tailor-made for their life's work. This may be the result of honing honed their skills, and building their intent, lifetime after lifetime, until they finally achieved perfection in the incarnation for which they are famous. There are no accidents in the universe. Everything is the result of conscious intent.

Why do most of humanity wander through life questioning why we are taking up space here? How do you find what you were born to do, when it seems to be so concealed from you?

Well, at the risk of disillusioning you, it seems worth asking you this fundamental question...

Why do you think that YOU were "born to do" anything in particular?!

The fact that you feel you are here for something does not necessarily imply that you are! You may also feel that you could run the world better than it is being run at present. However, just because you can feel it does not necessarily make it true!

Beware of blindly accepting the wish-fulfilling self-help propaganda that says "you are here for something". You may be or you may not be. As we said, some people definitely are. However, it's not necessarily true for eve*ryone, and it may not be true for you.

To say otherwise is to cash into ordinary people's desperate need to feel significant and important whilst they continue to live their lives of quiet desperation. The truth is that you may be causing yourself unnecessary anxiety by feeling that you are "here for something" when you are actually not.

Actually, this should be good news to you. If you are one of the majority struggling to find that elusive life purpose, accept the possibility that you may not necessarily have been born with one, despite what all the new age and self-help books tell you. That liberates you from the erroneous notion that you have "lost" something or need to "recover" your direction. You may not have lost anything, since you cannot lose what you never had in the first place! This is liberating news. You have NOT been wasting your life away far from your "true vocation", because you probably never had one!

However, that does NOT mean that you cannot DEVELOP a major life purpose from this moment onward! That is the good news. The even better news is that it is never too late. If you want a famous example, take the artist Van Gogh. He does not seem to have been born with a clear life purpose. After a series of failed jobs and much bitter frustration, he finally began drawing and painting only in his mid-twenties, and was destined to die by his own hand in his mid-thirties. Yet, in this brief decade or so, he elicited incred*ible talents from within: so much so that he transformed himself into one of the greatest artists in history, and accomplished an entire lifetime of work in just one short decade.

Accept that although you may not have been born with a life purpose, you can still create a purpose full of meaning and richness in the time available, i.e. right NOW, even if that time seems short to you. It may be neither easy nor obvious, but that should be part of the challenge and the calling. As soon as you let go of the handicapping notion that there is something SPECIFIC that you were sent here for, a world of possibilities opens up immediately.

Napoleon Hill stated that the key to success is having a definite major purpose, backed up with specific plans for its achievement. You can DECIDE to do that any time you wish, rather than pining over some mysterious and elusive purpose you think you were born with and may have missed at childhood.

Seeking your life purpose is a process, rather than a once and for all event. It could take a lot of time, or it could happen very quickly. That depends upon your degree of resolve, determination and effort. In other words, the speed with which you find a life purpose suitable to you is directly proportional to the time and effort, thought and passionate desire you invest into it. If it's a spare-time activity, or a sort of "well, it would be nice someday once the kids are grown..." kind of thing, expect to wait a long time, and maybe never find it.

One oft-quoted and valid method is to work back to when you were a child and ask yourself what sort of things you enjoyed doing then. When people asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, what was your answer? As adults, we tend to limit our opportunities to what we consider "possible". Children do not censor in this fashion (until they learn "better" from their parents!). Hence, seeking your childhood passions is a definite clue to where your future life direction may lie.

Another simple way is to consider your present life and ask yourself what it is that you really love to do now. What do you get caught up in, where you totally lose track of time, and forget to eat or sleep? What would you love to do all day long, even if there was no money involved? Questions like these can point the way to your deeper purpose in life.

Be open and playful and flexible in this process. Take your time, rather than being obsessed with the idea that time is running out on a preordained mission you have missed altogether. Remember, people are living ever longer these days. There is a fair chance you will live to be 100, or even 120 as medicine advances in the future. Hence, even if you are 40, 50, 60 or more, there is still plenty you can contribute and give to the world in the time you have left, for you have no idea how much time that will be.

In short, you ARE here for something as soon as you DECIDE to be. Then pick something and go with it, developing it to the best of your ability. Even if that does not turn out to be your best direction, it will open doors for you that never would have opened until you started moving. Eventually, through a strange and mysterious process, you will find yourself in your true life vocation. However, the key to getting there is movement, coupled with determination to reach it. Movement creates growth; stasis creates decay. So, start moving today.


  • The Quote Garden: Quotations about Purpose
  • ThinkArete: Famous Purpose Quotes

    Click here to return to The Cerebral Cathedral @ The Liberator