By Gustavo Tanaka
Apr 29, 2018
Maybe what I’m about to write here goes against everything you’ve heard lately.
What is your purpose? What is your mission? What, in fact, are you doing here?
You must have heard these questions many times over the past few months. And I believe it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Not knowing how to answer this question brings an awkward feeling. How is it possible that I don’t know how to answer such a critical question? Everyone should know by hand one’s purpose and mission. And live by it. After all, everyone who’s happy, successful and inspiring know it, don’t they?
Well, I’m not sure about that. I don’t know my purpose nor my mission.
For years, I had been tormented by this doubt, by this lack of self-consciousness.
I’ve read plenty of spiritual, self-help and personal development books. I lost count of how many personality tests I’ve taken. I have no idea how many lectures I’ve attended and how much money I’ve spent on esoteric consultations and on sessions with professionals that would allegedly help me to know the so-called answers.
The more I searched, though, the more confused I’d be.
And that would build up a barrier on any choice available.
“Is that what I want to do for the rest of my life?”
“Is that the task I came to the world to perform?”
“Is that my real purpose?”
“Will anyone join me and be there for me?”
Any question of that sort, with that much complexity attached, seemed impossible to be answered.
Thinking like that would only bring my distress and anxiety.
Then, I stopped trying to answer them.
I stopped trying to seek my purpose.
I stopped trying to figure out everything.
I accepted the fact that maybe I’ll never be able to figure things out.
I decided to simplify. Now, I try to answer none but one question: “Do I feel like doing this today?”
I only think if I’m inclined to do some particular task today or not. If I do, I’ll get it done; if not, I’ll postpone it. Just like that.
You got a proposal of some kind. Should you accept it? If you try to answer that by thinking for the rest of your life, you’ll never know how to respond to that. But consider if you’re willing to do it today.
You came up with a great business idea. Is that business your purpose? I have no clue. Maybe you’ll never know it for sure. Are you keen to do it today, though?
You want to attend a certain course, but you’re reluctant whether it’s worth it or not. Yes or no? Maybe your career path won’t be related to it 10 years from now. But you want it today. And that’s all there is.
You want go on a trip, but maybe now is not the best time. Will you regret it if you won’t? If you feel like going today, that’s enough.
Maybe what I do is not what I believe I came here to do. And that’s ok.
Maybe that’s not my life’s mission or my true purpose.
But I’m happy doing it today.
I don’t know if I’ll keep on doing it for the next 30 years. I don’t even if I’ll be up to it next week!
I’ve changed so much in my life that I don’t know who I am anymore. Then, it’s likely I’ll change over hundreds of times and then again.
I think that’s the challenge. To accept that things will change, that I’ll have a change of heart and a change of mind, and that tomorrow I’ll be different somehow.
I just need to be ok with my choices.
If today I do what I want to do, then I’ll be fine.
We’re making this purpose seeking into a monster. Every time we make a big deal out of anything, this thing will turn itself into a gigantic dragon.
“You must write your mission in only one sentence!”
Stop it! Quit it!
I’m much more than a single sentence. I’m much more than a few words. I’m intensely more complex and millions of variables may affect me somehow.
Anytime I tried to write down my mission, I felt it was empty. Those were just words I was writing to try and fool myself.
I stopped seeking purpose. I stopped asking existential questions. I stopped trying to write down my mission.
And my life got a lot better.
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Original article written in portuguese. Translated by Gabriel Galo