Developing a Sense of Purpose in Life

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
—Mark Twain

Consider this situation:

You are in the middle of a desert. What would motivate you to move further and further. The answer to this question will reveal the universal definition of self-motivation.

In a difficult situation such as this, we need some external motivation. At such times, our experiences, skills and confidence debilitate. While facing a panic situation we lose steadiness of mind, that cause inaction or flimsy action. Do we really need an external motivation to manage ourselves in such state of affairs?

The Gita suggests that all kinds of motivation ultimately converge to come back to the self. Think about it: an urgent need, a monetary obligation, or an aspired goal does the same thing. It induces self-motivation which drives us. Even a motivational quote can do the same in our busy schedule. Ultimately, it is the self-motivation which pushes us to travel the extra mile in our efforts. Self-motivation shakes us to step up our efforts. Hence, the answer to the question raised in the first paragraph is even more important to understand motivation in detail.
If you are lost in the middle of a desert where there is no person, or help is in sight, what will work to motivate you?
1.    A sense of direction.
2.    If the direction is coming from some other source, then trust in that source.
3.    A goal to achieve and the dream of self actualization after achieving the goal.
4.    An adverse situation such as the appearance of a sudden storm that would make survival itself doubtful.
5.    A favorable situation where environment is helping you gather speed and your direction is clear.

Imagine you got an instant goal to discover an unexplored oasis. Would you go blindly into the desert without having researched the area you are venturing into? Most of us will not go blindly unless we have infinite time and infinite resources, which we know are always scarce and limited. Hence, some sense of knowledge and direction is a must. In the absence of a goal and a direction, there is no meaning to self-motivation. What would you do if you were to discover in the middle of the desert that there is no known direction and, even worse, there is no goal in the form of an oasis? A person without a purpose struck in mid of desert will choose inaction and wait for external circumstances to decide his course. Most of us fall in this category, we are in mid of desert without knowing where we are heading. Isn’t it true in our life as well? Aren’t we conveniently accepting ourselves as victim of circumstances? But there are few with a clear goal in mind and a sense of direction who try their best of the efforts. Such type of people creates his or her own path and in some cases history.

What would happen if a storm appears ? Would you do nothing and let the storm decide your fortune? Most of us would try hard, driven by self-motivation, to survive. In this case, survival is the immediate goal and you’d most likely think of ways to save your life. This is a type of short-term goal. The problem with this goal is even if you succeed to survive, you will end up in the first situation. Such situation is a helpless one, depended on luck and external factor (such as wave). However, it is circumstantial and survival is required for any future healthy, long term goal. We will agree that inaction is not a better option in such situation. But short term goal such as survival add value if we take refuge in it to realize long term healthy goals.

Now consider this: You are all set to discover the new oasis. You have identified probable spots where it might be located. You have the directions and maps. You are in the same situation as before – in the middle of the desert– but with a purpose and knowledge. You will move in a known direction and not in the direction decided by the weather. If a storm comes, you will face it with more confidence and capability. Although it is not guaranteed that the oasis you are looking for exists, you will do your part because there is the possibility of its existence. You have the opportunity to create history and, more importantly, realize your purpose.

External motivations or forced motivations do not last long. Only a purpose or a goal can induce permanent self-motivation. All we need to learn is how to achieve that goal.

Sam Parulekar

About Sam Parulekar

Sam Parulekar is the Founder of He has over two decades of training experience and writes extensively on Technical and Behavioral topics. He is the author of articles and books, teaching how to use your mental tools and inner powers to create a life of happiness, success, fulfillment and inner peace.

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