On Purpose

This article is not about intention, it is about purpose. I know so many people around me seek and struggle to seek purpose. In a world where there is so much pressure to find purpose, when many of us will soon be jobless — I think there cannot be enough articles relieving this pressure.

So, here it is: You do not have to find your purpose. Really, you don't need my permission, but it is good to hear it. Furthermore, I am inclined to believe that none of us even have a purpose. What about passion? I want to say that passion is a buzzword. All we have are interests — and more than one. You can call your interest a passion if you want, but there is no need to conflate it with greater meaning. Finding your passion doesn't need to be a goal. Stop searching for your passion.

Now that the pressure is gone to seek purpose or a passion, what should we focus on? I prefer a different term: fulfillment. This comes in many shapes and is different for everyone. I also urge you not to put too much weight on this term. Seeking fulfillment will be just as confusing as finding a passion. Along with shifting the terminology, I would like to point out a different route of finding fulfillment: trial and error.

Maybe this is obvious to some of you, but it was never obvious to me, and I keep forgetting this much easier route of making decisions. I frequently get stuck wondering what I want to do — with my free time, with my day, with my career, with my life. I sit and think myself into circles, never going anywhere. "Well how am I supposed to know what I want?" I ask myself.

The answer is just pick something and try it. Like going on a first date, don't overcommit. Commit a little bit of time and give yourself room to politely withdraw from advancing the relationship.

I am able to try many things because no one depends on me, I have low monthly expenses (around $1000/month), and because I am in a relatively high-paying field (software development). If you are not in a similar position, I probably should not give you advice or encourage you to take risks that I am unfamiliar with. However, if you are seeking fulfillment and cannot figure out what you want - I really think the answer is just try something and see what happens.

I think when you are invested in something that excites you, then you will have more capacity to work than when compromising what you want in order to maintain stability. When you have this extra capacity, your work has a better chance of working out for you. If it doesn't, then at least you learned something.

That isn't to say that I think you should take risks if you are happy with your stability. This article is for those of us that feel pressure to find something greater and only ever end up in analysis paralysis.

So, there you go. You don't have to find a purpose. You have permission to try things. You have permission to fail. You do not have a single purpose and interests typically come after trying something, not before.

Now excuse me while I try to get into freelance web development without an existing network.