What you should do if you are struggling with your purpose in life, doubt you can achieve it or if you need help figuring out what your purpose is.
In this video coaching newsletter, I discuss an email from a viewer who says that he is struggling with his purpose in life, because even though he knows what he wants to accomplish, he is filled with irrational fears and doubts that he can actually achieve it.
He says his brain is flooded with negative thoughts that tell him he is not good enough, he can’t do it, etc. I go over the fundamentals of the process of achieving your purpose once you figure out what it is, and how your purpose will evolve over time as you age and experience it. My comments are in bold italics like this below in the body of his email.
Lately, I’d say the majority of the phone sessions I’ve been doing are guys that are either trying to figure out what their purpose is, they know what their purpose is, but they’re struggling, or they’re already working in something that they love and they’ve kind of hit the wall and they’re starting to wonder whether or not they should just completely go and do everything else, maybe sell their business and start something completely new, or how to transition out of it.
If you’ve read my second book “Mastering Yourself,” I lay out in there the path I went through and continue to go through over the course of my life. One thing that’s always been consistent with me is learning to listen to my heart, my curiosity, my intuition and what feels right. In other words, when I was younger and I was working at a job, and I kind of felt I had learned everything I could learn and gained all the wisdom and knowledge I could gain, I was looking for the bigger and better deal — a new company, a new place to go work, where I could be challenged and feel like I was continuing my evolution. I was continuing to grow my reserve of knowledge, develop my skills, my gifts, and my talents so I could continue to get to the next level.
When the average person recognizes they are not happy or they don’t have the same internal enthusiasm that they once did for their job, they don’t really do anything about it. They may go complain to their spouse, their significant other or their friends, yet they never really do anything to change their trajectory in life. And it really is an art more than a science or a switch that you flip.
The reality is, most great things take a minimum of a decade or more. And the average person, they’re going to stick to something maybe two to three years, and then when it doesn’t give them the success that they want, they just give up. The danger that you run when you have something you quit and give up on is that you never really take any more risk beyond that as you get older, because you look back at that one time that you failed, and you just think that’s the way it’s always going to be for you.
Most, if not all, successful people will tell you, it really boils down to persistence — sticking with things way longer than the average person does. Most people simply aren’t willing to do it. You don’t believe me? How many people do you know in your life that decide on January 1st, they’re going to lose weight, they’re going to go to the gym, and they’re going to get in shape. And then within a week or two, even if they went and joined the gym, they’re not going to the gym, they’re back to eating the same kind of crappy diet they were eating before, they’ve got their story that justifies continuing to do the same thing, and they just never really follow through with it.
It’s hard when you’re surrounded by most of the people you encounter in life who are living lives that are less than they’re capable of. It’s hard not to want to settle and be just like them, because they’re also trying to get you to settle, because then it justifies their model of the world. It justifies how they’re showing up in life.
I have a client I was talking with yesterday whose weight’s been kind of a yo-yo up and down over the years. What I went through with him is, if you’re going to be healthy, work out and have a good, clean diet, it’s a permanent lifestyle change. It’s a commitment to putting foods in your body that nourish it, not by putting sugary junk and crap into it, because it makes you feel better when you consume it, but it makes you look like shit. You have to consistently stick with it week in and week out, month after month, year after year. It’s not like you’re going on a diet to succeed, and then once you’ve succeeded then your work is over.
The same thing with your purpose. Your purpose is always growing and evolving, and if you’ve read what I discuss in Mastering Yourself, you’d see that I’m always looking for the next level. I’m always looking for a new challenge, new skills, new talents that I can develop, new knowledge that I can acquire to make myself better.
And as we grow and gain life experience, we develop our talents, those different talents and skills and the reserve of knowledge will add up to what Scott Adams calls our “talent stack.” You don’t have to be exceptional at everything, but when you’re good at a lot of different things, and when those things stack up, it gives you the ability to be more exceptional at that particular task, or job, or product manufacturing than anybody that you may be competing against.
So it’s a process. It’s a commitment. Like for me, it’s not like I “achieved” my purpose. I’m living my purpose. And my purpose is continuing to evolve. The reality is, once you finally achieve what it is that you want, say you’ve got a business that you want to start. After 10, 15 years you grow that business to be successful, and you’re no longer really excited about it, but you grow a nice, sizeable income.
A lot of guys I talk to in that position, they get to a plateau, they just don’t have the same internal enthusiasm for it that they once did, and they mistakenly assume, well I should just get out of the business. And oftentimes after going through it with them in my phone sessions and asking them questions, there are things that they really enjoy and they love about their business, but they’ve also filled it up with so many things that they don’t.
They’ve got something else that they’d really like to sink their teeth into, but they’ve got this business and this commitment that they’ve been doing 10, 15, 20 years, and it pays the bills and gives them a comfortable lifestyle. So what they often end up doing is hiring managers and people that are great at maintaining systems and have a track record of doing that, so they can delegate away the day to day operations of the business and then focus on kind of being the chairman of the board or the CEO of the company.
They take the excess cash flow that they’ve got and continue to put it in their investments, but also setting some aside every month so they can, in essence, throw it against the wall — try out new advertising, start a website, beta test a product, or open a location. It gives them capital they can continually invest. And since they maintained their successful business, they’re not going to get stressed out. Whereas, if they just go and sell their business and just get a big lump sum of cash, now they’re living off their savings.
What happens is, you notice your bank account shrinks every month, and so you feel pressure. Every time you spend money on your business, and it’s not making you money, your bank account gets smaller. Every time you pay your normal monthly expenses, your bank account gets smaller. And if you’ve been a lifelong entrepreneur like I have, the thought of having to go back potentially and work for somebody else is going to add some unpleasant stress.
The reality is, we make our best decisions when we’re in a peaceful and relaxed state. So what’s actually going to be more conducive to your new venture succeeding and remaining in a peaceful and relaxed state is just finding the right people to run your existing business, so it continues to earn the profits that you’re used to, continuing to grow, and gives you the capital and resources you need to fund your new venture that may take a year, 2, 5 or even 10 years to make it a success.
So, the most stable way in those particular cases, is to keep the business that they have, hire the right people to delegate away the things that are no longer enjoyable to them — people that have a passion for those things you don’t like doing — and that enables you to focus, stress free, on the new thing you want.
If you’re in an existing job and you’re thinking maybe you want to move to a different part of the country, or you want a different job, you don’t just quit you job and move and hope you find something once you arrive. It’s much smarter and wiser to continue working the job that’s paying your bills, so you can stay peaceful and relaxed, and take your time to find the right opportunity. Then you can interview and get your offer letter.
You’re going to be a much better negotiator if you already have an existing job, versus you running out of cash, because you haven’t worked in a couple of months, and you’re desperate for a job so you can pay your bills. If you already have a good job that’s paying your bills, and you look for something better on the side that’s going to pay you more money and enable you to go live where you actually want to live, it’s going to make you happier. You want to do it in a balanced and relaxed way, instead of ripping the band aid off and hoping everything works out.
I’ve done both approaches, and at fifty years old, it’s much nicer to slowly transition out of things, versus going cold turkey because you don’t know how long your new venture, your new career, your new business is going to take you to the point where it can sustain you. Anything that’s going to add peace and delight to your life, you want to maintain that at all costs, because you’re going to make your best decisions when you’re not stressed about money.
You don’t want to do things that are going to put you into a financial bind. That’s just going to cause you to make worse, less resourceful decisions going forward, and it will take you longer, ultimately, to get from where you are to where you want to be. So with that said, let’s go through this guy’s email and see where he’s struggling.
Hope you’re doing well. I’m familiar with your work and I really enjoy your content. Right now, I’m struggling with my purpose and would like to hear your thoughts. My goal is to become a fighter pilot. This is a very difficult barrier for me to break through, because of my own mental limitations. Similar to your article on “How To Overcome Your Inner Demons,” I find my brain is flooded with negative thoughts such as “I can’t do it,” “I’m not good enough,” “no matter how hard I try I will always fail,” “I will always settle for mediocrity,” etc.
Like I talked about in the quote I read earlier, we all have two primary fears. The first fear is that we don’t have what it takes — we’re not enough. We’re not smart enough, we’re not wise enough, we’re not young enough, old enough, experienced enough, or have enough money — whatever it happens to be — to succeed at what we want. This is common amongst all humans.
The second primary fear is that we won’t be loved and accepted by our friends, family, or peer group. So this is something we all struggle with. And obviously, with the things you’re telling yourself, those are pretty common themes. I’ve had thoughts like that countless times over the course of my life. I still have big, audacious goals and things I want to accomplish in the future, and yeah, there’s plenty of days where I go, “There’s no fucking way. I’ll never be able to pull that off.” But the one thing I always do is I keep grinding.
I keep taking action no matter what, because the reality is, if you’re busy taking action to move yourself forward, if you’re doing all the action steps that you need to do in order to move you forward, you’re going to feel better, versus being fearful and just sitting on your ass doing nothing. If you just sit idle and do nothing, you’re going to feel worse.
When you feel scared and fearful, the best thing you can do is crack open a book, go to that website that you’re gaining lots of wisdom from, go take a class, go to the gym, sit down and do some work that you’ve been putting off, whatever it happens to be. If you get busy taking action to move yourself from where you are to where you want to be, you’re going to feel better. You’ll end up forgetting about the fact that you were scared, fearful and afraid it wasn’t going to work out.
And after several hours of work or maybe a full day’s worth of work, when you get home you’re going to feel a sense of accomplishment, because you took action to move yourself forward, versus just sitting on your ass, playing some video games or watching Netflix. Every day we’re faced with that choice. Take action and move your life forward, or you do nothing and stay stuck where you are.
The reality is, your life is zipping by, the amount of time you have left to live is shrinking, and the amount of days that you’ve been on this planet is increasing. We’re all running out of time, some of us faster than others. So the question is, what are you willing to go to your grave having not done, or said, or attempted? You’re going to end up somewhere in the future. And what you do today, and tomorrow, and the day after that is going to determine where you end up.
I promise you, if you continue to do nothing and you avoid things, you’re going to end up somewhere in the future where you don’t want to be. And it will be much more rewarding, exciting and compelling to look around as you age and go through your life and start to see little signs that all those little things you’ve been doing day in and day out are inch by inch getting you closer to where you want to be.
Like Wayne Dyer said, “It’s never crowded along the extra mile.” Most people have given up. Though it gets kind of lonely when you’re on that road to success, and you’re trying to achieve the things that you want to. Especially if your friends, your family or your peer group are not really that supportive and don’t believe you can do it.
However, once you do succeed and you have that reality and evidence in your life that others can see, it gives them a little bit more confidence to strike out on their own and go for the things that they want. So not only are you helping yourself, you’re but you’re helping those around you. Once they see that you can do it, it gives them a little more confidence that they can do it as well. Just because they know you and they see what you went through.
In addition, the fear of putting myself in physical danger in a risky profession such as this is also holding me back. Tony Robbins says that “When there’s no fear, you are grateful,” and “The external environment doesn’t matter when you have an internal state of peace.”
Like I was stating earlier, the internal state of peace comes from taking action. You feel fearful when you’re doing nothing. So if you’re afraid, you need to move your ass and take action.
There are days when I have the confidence to make this dream a reality and others when my insecurities and negative self-talk force me to search for another purpose.
If you’re going to become a fighter pilot, there’s a finite amount of days that you’re actually going to be a fighter pilot. Say you eventually become one. Maybe it’s 10, 15, 20 years. I mean, you’re not going to stay a fighter pilot forever. Someday you’re going to get too old to do that. Someday you may wake up having spent ten years as a fighter pilot, thinking it’s the best job in the world, and you just don’t have the internal enthusiasm for it.
So another thing you should be thinking about is, what are you going to do after you’ve been a fighter pilot? How are you going to use those gifts, skills and talents you developed as a fighter pilot and continue to add to your talent stack?
A lot of guys who have left the military — it’s a problem. A lot of pilots are leaving the military because they’re sitting around doing paperwork and not flying. And the whole reason they became a pilot was because they wanted to fly.
The Air Force and the different branches of the military have done things to try to retain these pilots, because they invested such a tremendous amount of money and resources to train them, get them competent and get them combat experienced. So, they don’t want to lose them, which makes sense.
But you’ve also got to be thinking, someday you’re going to no longer want to be a fighter pilot, so what is the natural career trajectory? In other words, what have other fighter pilots done once they left the service? Did any of them become commercial airline pilots and other things? The question is, what’s next?
You kind of want to think about those things. It’s just like when you start a business. You want to build a business so you can ultimately sell it. Because maybe you get to a point in life where you decide you want to retire. Maybe you want to give it to your kids and family, or maybe they have no interest in it. You want to be able to sell it and get maximum value for it so you always want to be thinking from the end. What are you going to do after the fact?
What would be helpful to you is probably to sit down with some guys that have been fighter pilots and find out what they do after they leave the military. What kinds of jobs and careers they go into and what they do now with the knowledge and information they acquired as a fighter pilot. How are they using that to earn themselves a living? These are all things you need to know.
The thought of being a fighter pilot fills my heart with excitement and overwhelms me with emotion, like you talk about in your article “How To Find your Purpose In Life.”
You have a very good understanding of emotional ownership and strength. What kinds of techniques do you do to keep yourself centered, focused and confident in your mission? Any wisdom is much appreciated.
I would definitely recommend you reading “Mastering Yourself,” but the one thing that’s always stuck with me for the last thirty years that I’ve been using this — and this was something that I learned from Tony Robbins, and that goes all the way back to Aristotle – is that people do more to avoid pain than they’ll do to gain pleasure.
Whether it’s working out, or eating healthy versus eating junk food, I always think about what are the painful consequences if I don’t do what I need to do right now? And what is the pleasure I’m going to experience if I do take the action I know I need to take right now? How much better am I going to feel? What is this going to do to move my life forward 10, 15, 20 years from now?
I do this little mental gymnastic exercise whenever I have something to do that I don’t feel like doing, but I know I need to do it because it’s a big part of my ultimate large goals. Just like sitting down and doing this video. I was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to do this video today because of all the grinding, hammering and drilling that’s been going on in my building. But I waited a bit and they stopped for a bit and I was able to get this video done.
So that was one of the biggest, life-changing things for me, just learning how to associate pain with not taking action and pleasure with taking action. Think about what the benefits are, because that’s what’s going to move you forward.
I feel the same way you do. All those thoughts — I feel those. Those still pop up in my head on a daily basis, and I just keep moving forward. I just keep grinding. Like Ray Lewis said, “My grind is my rest.” It’s daily discipline dude. You have to discipline yourself.
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“Your purpose is always changing and evolving as you experience the seasons of your life. Sometimes we accomplish our dreams sooner than we thought possible. Other times, it will look and feel hopeless and like success is an unrealistic fantasy that will never be realized. Success is a process. It’s a commitment to something you have a burning desire to acquire, experience or achieve. Knowing what you want and why you want it, and then developing a plan to make it a reality. Filling in your knowledge gaps, developing your gifts, skills and talents, learning from your mistakes, being ready to examine your reasoning and thinking, and persisting without exception until you make it your reality. All humans fear that they don’t have what it takes to succeed, and that they won’t be loved and accepted by their friends, family or peer group. However, successful people simply never give up, and are quick to change their approach when it’s not working, but slow to change their minds about what they really want, because they’re so passionate about it. Success is a process that never ends until your life is over. Make your process about mastering and winning at something that really sets your soul on fire.” ~ Coach Corey Wayne