Living on Purpose

24 commentsOctober 25, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here
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I am staying at my friend’s place while in Los Angeles and her boyfriend works as a car broker, a good job but not his real passion. He is from a small town in Illinois, went to school at Beloit (not to be confused with Deloitte) and is a really great guy. I talked to him a lot about why he does it and his real passion, it is to be a professional golfer. He is only a 6 handicap but because of money can’t spend more time improving. I am always wondering about people and there jobs:

“Is this job for the money or does this work give them fulfillment in life?”
 

I know these topics are better for Steve Pavlina who has amazing material. I just wanted to pose the question for everyone else. Would you want to be doing work that just pays the bills and gives you the time to go out at night or 2 weeks a year to go on vacation? Do you want to have a job where you are leaving the world a better place than when you were born? I quit the Cubicle Life at Intel to find a job I enjoyed  at a startup (Facebook). Of course, I was eventually fired from Facebook. There is a tough balance on these questions depending on how much money you have in the bank and finding your true passion in life.

I am uncertain of mine but right now I don’t want to sacrifice doing things for money over doing things that I feel contribute back to society and I can feel good about. I think Steve Jobs said it best a few years ago:

“If you were to die right now how you would feel about what you accomplished on Earth?”

I thought this was a great quote along with another one I can’t remember where I was reading it. A guy was lying in his death bed and said:

“Man, what a great life I lived. I was the top salesman of lawn mowers for 3 years and got a gold badge for staying with the company for 30 years.”

I think there was more to the quote than that but the overall point really got me thinking about what I am doing here and how I feel the need to make it meaningful. I’m convinced that richness is a state of mind, not the state of your bank account.

What do you think?

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24 responses to “Living on Purpose

  1. Adam Gilbert Reply

    Noah,

    That’s really funny you wrote about this. Last night I wrote a post talking about the same exact question.

    It’s extremely difficult for me to find exactly what it is I want to be doing but it’s certainly not working for the Big 4 accounting firm I work at. Or public accounting at all.

    I need meaning. I’d like to talk more about this with you, if possible.

    Check out my blog. http://www.GuruGilbert.com

    -Adam

  2. Jason Reply

    Here is the thing. Sooner or later people have certain obligations they have to fufill. I think it is great that people find jobs that they truely love, but in the end something like 80% of people out there are not “in love” with their job.

    You have to ask yourself where you are in life. Do you have a family? Do you want nice things? Do you want children?

    Some people can take risks, but others just have to be. Most people who hate their jobs, or want to follow their dreams just want to find the easy way out. They don’t want to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to be at there job at 6AM. They are trying to find excuses to leave their job because they are lazy.

    I have always wanted to drop everything, move to California, and try to become a movie director one day. People laughed when I said that, and I know why. It is a million to one shot.

    Remember…9 out of 10 businesses fail within the first year. 1 out of 251,250 high school athletes goes pro in some sport. If everyone did what they wanted to do, there would be no ditch diggers (thank you Caddyshack).

    I know people are going to critisize me for telling people to give up on their dreams. I know they will think I am a jerk…whatever. All I know is that at some part of your life you have to weigh certain things. I am not saying to follow your dreams, but you have to realize that there are more risks than rewards.

  3. Noah Kagan Reply

    Jason,

    I think you said it perfectly. It really is about where you are in life and what you can afford to handle. The media makes the perception of everyone becoming a famous athlete easier said than done. Same goes for all the struggling actors in Los Angeles. I just think people to be aware of a balance between doing something meaningful and making money.

  4. Adam Gilbert Reply

    Jason Marketing,

    With all do respect, I totally disagree with some of your points in many regards. Yes, according to what you say some people just can’t afford to take risks.

    The people that can’t afford to take risks are the people that are making $500,000 / year and have a $3,000,000 house with a mortgage that costs them close to their salary. Or the people that have so much debt on their shoulders they MUST collect a check each month and trade hours for dollars. The people that are so overdrawn to appear wealthy but in reality don’t own a single thing. Or the people that are just living way above their means.

    Most people though, are in a situation where they have a little tiny nest egg and can take a risk but just can’t tolerate the stress caused from it. If someone put a gun to their head to quit their job and go out on their own, they could sustain themselves for maybe a year or so.

    And then, they would thank the guy for forcing him/her to follow their dreams because they never would have done it on their own!

    But what it comes down to is desire. How badly do you want it? Truly, how badly do you want it? How far are you willing to go? How uncomfortable are you willing to be to follow your dreams?

    If you, with all of your heart and soul put all your might into something you truly believed in I truly believe it’s impossible to fail.

    Maybe I’m naive but that’s how I see it.

    I also find most anti-preneurs talk against entrepreneurs because they are too scared to take a risk and just dream about it, wishing they had the balls to make it happen while discouraging others.

    For me, failure is not an option. And it comes down to desire.

    -Adam

  5. Joe Suh Reply

    My favorite scene from City Slickers is appropriate here:

    Curly: You all come up here about the same age. You spend fifty weeks getting knots in your rope and you think two weeks up here will untie them for you. None of you get it.
    (pause)
    Curly: You know what the secret of life is?
    Mitch: No, what?
    Curly: This (holds up one finger)
    Mitch: Your finger?
    Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.
    Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the one thing?
    Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.

  6. Jason H. Reply

    I’m not trying to be philosophical, but I think that everyone has a purpose or dharma in life, and until you figure out what that purpose is, you will probably not going to feel 100% satisfied with life.

    One new book about this topic that I recommend is “Success Built to Last� by Jerry Porras.

    Here is another question that I like:

    “If you know you couldn’t fail, what will you do?�

  7. udandi Reply

    I dread those “if you die tomorrow” comments because not all of us are at that moment, some of us are still working toward the accomplishment. I guess you could say WIP, but whatevs.

    as for a job, I seek happiness, not gobs of cash. I didn’t post the article, but mentioned how I was interviewed for an article about getting out of a crappy job and taking the leap to something new and for me it was about doing something I am passionate about!

  8. GuruOfBalancedHappiness Reply

    Seems like Noah likes this subject way too much…

    Noah, how does “The Paycheck vs. Life” affect your life personally, professionaly, or socially?

    As for me, I am a firm believer of the following principles I consistently balance my life with everyday:

    Do it better everyday
    -Make everything in your life a challenge to do more and better each and everyday. Do not forget to reward yourself when you triumph over challenge, nor forget to reward yourself with a forward looking perspective when opportunity presents itself.

    Less is more simplify
    - Minimize, refine, and make simple all aspects that can be whether occupational, social, or otherwise.

    Take the smart risk
    - Make educated risks become forward looking successes. Do everything with the intention of positive future implication. Actions, choices, and decisions of convience, lust, and now are all temporary. Plan for future via the educated plan. Re-evaluate when necessary, but always with future implication.

    Everyone counts
    - Make everyone know they count. Reward, recognize, and acknowledge all for their efforts and opportunities. A simple, genuine, and sincere greeting, smile, or conversation is all it takes.

    Every difference makes a difference
    - Every forward looking step, intention, action, and/or choice, no matter what the magnitude is, has a positive effect on any situation. Again, it is the evident power of positive influence, action, and choice.

    Own it, do it, done
    - Own your passions, own your choices, and most importantly, own your future. Set them to action, follow up on them, plan where you want them to take you, and execute it.

    Do the right thing
    - Be honest with yourself, others, and everything else will come that much easier to you. Yes, give things a chance, but be honest with yourself when things aren’t moving forward, and the “investment” personal or otherwise is not mutual.

    Sincerely your biggest fan,
    - GuruOfBalancedHappiness

  9. James Reply

    - Do some Volunteer/Community work.
    - Make donations to charity.
    - Spend your money ethically.
    - make decisions motivated by virtue, generosity, common good rather than selfishness or greed.
    - Take up worthy causes. Environmentalism whatever.
    - Inspire to be a person you respect.
    - Courage others.

    You can be more than your job.

    My 2 cents!.

  10. Rik Reply

    I think you can get satisfaction from working for a paycheck, if only for the appreciation of your efforts it represents. The danger is in working for the things you can buy with that money. Once you start getting through days on the fulfillment of getting the latest ipod or the newest plasma, you are on a short fuse. Once those thing things stop pleasuring you, you will have to drag your ass back to work for the next drink/toy/car whatever. I believe the thing that gives us purpose and fulfillment is knowing you’ve accomplished something, on a daily, weekly, or even yearly basis. So choose a job that feeds that basic need, and you should be done. If that means you become a painter on the beach and have to feed on cornbread all day, so be it.

  11. Noah Kagan Reply

    Guru,

    OMG. I almost want to print out your sayings and bring them around with me. Right now I think I need to establish a strong foundation so regardless of things going well or not I always have my base. I think creating that helps you prepare for anytime. Thank you for sharing those thoughts.

    Rik,

    I definitely agree that accomplishing something is the purpose. Life is about setting up our own goals, meeting them and going on to the next ones. I wonder about mine on a daily basis and I know a lot of people do the same.

  12. GuruOfBalancedHappiness Reply

    Noah,

    I wonder though through how many situations, choices (good or bad), and experiences people need to go through to so they realize that temporary, selfish, and lustful driven choices leave them with nothing in the end but an unhealthy, exhausting, and cyclical downward spiral.

    I absolutely agree with you about having a good base, but how good of a base do you have it till you get tired of your base and become consistently driven to abandon base and go temporary. This is where forward-looking consistency comes into play. If one can own consistency, one will really be able to do anything, not only for yourself but others.

    Namaste,
    Guru

  13. GuruOfBalancedHappiness Reply

    Oh Noah, I only communicate with people that are genuinely and sincerely interested in what I have to say. You know, making every difference make a difference…I like sharing, but young one, in life there are those that you can only try to reach and then you have to accept that they are ok with their situation…For example:

    I met a person in my past that was extremely passionate about people and learning about them and their surroundings. They had great drive, great confidence, and great ability to make things happen. I always found this person interesting because of their perspectives and principles on and about life. But as life does, there were some situations that tested their ability to be honest, happy, and fulfilled. I the Guru, gave advice, gave support, and even gave a shoulder to cry on. You would think they would have understood the value of what presented itself to them? No, this viscous cycle continued well on into other aspects of their life, seeping into the things that made them tick as that once honest, happy, and fulfilled person I highly respected. It was not that I didn’t respect them for who they were, but more for what they became. And to think that this person continues this cycle with the people, places, and things they so call love…

    Namaste
    - Guru

  14. SenseiOfInvestment Reply

    I also agree that people expect things for free…

    Does this mean that to some degree we all have a little sense of selfishness? Yes and no. Yes, because who wouldn’t want to indulge in little selfishness for them selves. BUT, it is when these selfish choices/actions involve/affect other people that are unbeknown to this one sided investment, that this temporary expectation of “free” is degraded.

    It is important to surround yourself with people that are genuinely and sincerely interested in each other, a mutual investment. You know, making every difference make a difference…I like sharing, but in life there are those that you can only try to reach and then you have to accept that they are ok with their situation…

    For example:

    I met a person in my past that was extremely passionate about people and learning about them and their surroundings. They had great drive, great confidence, and great ability to make things happen. I always found this person interesting because of their perspectives and principles on and about life. But as life does, there were some situations that tested their ability to be honest, happy, and fulfilled. I the Guru, gave advice, gave support, and even gave a shoulder to cry on. You would think they would have understood the value of what presented itself to them? No, this viscous cycle continued well on into other aspects of their life, seeping into the things that made them tick as that once honest, happy, and fulfilled person I highly respected. It was not that I didn’t respect them for who they were, but more for what they became. And to think that this person continues this cycle with the people, places, and things they so call love…

    Arigato,
    Sensei

  15. Mehul Patel Reply

    Make Meaning, follow ur passion, do what u love, or do what u know the best, rest is Automatic :)

    Working just for pay checks no matter what the obligations are will put u in a SAD never ending loop, take a break, seek advice from trusted friends and most Imp thing Take RISK (this does not apply to Gamling, as Gambling is not a risk its sucide) :)

  16. Ray Dotson Reply

    I’m late to the party again, but I have to agree with Mehul. If you’re killing yourself just for a paycheck, life sucks. I’m all for following your passions and doing what you at least like. I think you can at the very least make a decent living doing something that has to do with what you love.

    For instance, if you love baseball, but can’t play professionally, maybe you can be involved in coaching, announcing games, back office stuff, training, sports medicine or even baseball card trading. If it’s not the exact thing, it can be something peripheral. You may not make a million bucks at it, but you can most likely make a living.

    On the other hand, I know from long experience that if you spend your life chasing the buck, doing what other people expect you to do to make a living or a career, you’re in for a hard time. You definitely have to work hard to get anything you really want, but make it something you do actually want.

  17. Drew McLellan Reply

    Since when did we lead two separate lives — our work and the rest of the day? While I am all for the philosophy of “live your bliss” life is about balance.

    I think Guru has it right — figure out at the core, who you are and what you’re about. Then, whether you are digging ditches in the swealtering heat or making 3 point shots in front of a screaming crowd — life is good.

    Should you leave a legacy — heck yes. But that doesn’t have to be tied to the title on your business card.

    Should you live with passion — heck yes. But that doesn’t mean the world has to envy (or even understand) your career choice.

    Should you with with your values in constant sight — heck yes. But, that’s not a 9-5 deal.

    If you have a dream job, should you chase it? You bet. But for some people, their life’s obligations demand they chase it while still holding onto the status quo. Others can set off, without a care in the world, and chase it down.

    I think there is a fallacy worth calling out in this conversation. ANY job is still work. There are still days, no matter how much you love your career or the results of it, that you’d rather stay in bed or call in well. That’ human nature.

    So why not find out what your passion is and make sure you weave it into your being, not your career?

    Best,

    Drew

  18. saving advice Reply

    If you can’t say you’d be satisfied if you died right now, then it’s simply a process of sitting down and figuring out what would make you satisfied. There is your new goal…

  19. karen Reply

    My dream was to become a dancer, but the bad knees, short height and lack of intensive dance training as a child held me back. This doesn’t mean that I don’t dance–it’s just either around the house or on amateur night. ;) As Ray said, I have found a way to still enjoy it, even if it’s not what brings in the paycheck.

    Money doesn’t bring happiness…doing what you love and enjoy does. Sometimes it just takes a while to figure that out. I think people often get discouraged when ‘figuring it out’ doesn’t come easy, thus the focus turns to money–which should make everyone happy, right?

    No matter what I’m doing, I try to make a difference with those I come into contact with. I truly find happiness in going above and beyond to help others. I hope all of you are ‘figuring it out’ and are happy in what you do!