How to Really Really Find Your Life Purpose (and Do the Work You Love)

How to Really Really Find Your Life Purpose (and Do the Work You Love)

Break the rules. We have so many rules in life about everything. I say break the rules. Not the law, but break the rules / Arnold Schwarzenegger

Can we be honest?

You know how you’ve been struggling to find your dream job? Tried everything and still feeling crappy?

Well, It’s not because you didn’t find the right place to work in. It’s not because you have the wrong position.

It’s because you’re looking in the wrong place.

But you’re not alone.

Most people live their life without knowing better. They cruise on autopilot, letting their job slowly suck the life out of them. They feel bitter and lost.

But there’s a dead simple way to get your bearings straight. To find your life purpose. To do the work you love.

Shall I explain?

Working a Corporate Job Changes You in a Creepy Way

I used to work in a corporate job. I kept my nose to the grindstone. I wanted to save money for retirement because that’s the “right” thing to do. But living this way takes it’s toll.

I started daydreaming about retirement. Being only 30.
My mood became gloomy making me grumpy and miserable. Being around me sucked.

Then I remembered.
How it was before, how I was happy.

I didn’t want to become a corporate slave. To forget how to enjoy life as a free man.
I didn’t want to become institutionalized.

These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized / Shawshank Redemption

I knew there must be another way. To live a vibrant life. To be happy.
But I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to step into uncharted waters.

The Kick-Ass First Aid Treatment that Saves You From Misery

When I felt hopeless, my wife came to the rescue.
She challenged me with a simple exercise. It changed my life. It helped me find and pursue my life purpose.

It’s extremely simple but it’ll guide you towards living fully. Towards doing the work you love.

What’s the exercise?

  1. Write down what you’d like to do if money is not an issue.
  2. Order the list by what you’re most passionate about.
  3. Pick the top item.

When I did this exercise, my top item was helping people achieve their greatest potential. I had noticed that I felt best when I mentored others to enjoy their lives more.

I started gobbling up books and taking courses. I worked hard to overcome my social phobia. To sound my voice even when I was scared shitless.

Take the time to complete this exercise. And when you’re done, start acting towards accomplishing it.

It’ll be hard. Damn hard.
It’ll smack you out of your comfort zone. It’ll shake every molecule of your being. But it’ll be worth it.
It’ll change you. Drastically. You’ll feel alive. You’ll become happier than ever. Your friends will notice it. Your family will notice it.

Wouldn’t you go an extra mile for that?

Repeat this exercise once in a month. You’ll be surprised your answer changes.
That’s how you navigate to your greatest passion. Each time you perform this exercise you come closer to finding your purpose in life.

And when you find it you’ll know. Definitely.

The Secret To Doing What You Love

You can’t achieve your dream by staying comfy.

You can’t fulfill yourself doing what everyone expects.

Break a convention and naysayers start popping up from everywhere. They say the risk is too big. That you won’t make it.

But deep down they know.

They are ashamed to lack YOUR courage.

Stop listening to naysayers. And start listening to yourself.

Follow your passion. Cultivate it and learn about it in every chance you get.

Go ahead. Fire up your passion.

You know you deserve it.

P.S. How do you handle naysayers? Let me know in the comments below.

Benny (@BenjaminMalev) is an energetic family man. He’s on a mission to help men live their life to the fullest, while putting their family first. Join him and learn to live a vibrant life at Vibrant Dad.

41 Responses to How to Really Really Find Your Life Purpose (and Do the Work You Love)

  1. I’ve done a similar exercise and it’s true. Everything changes. And that’s the good thing about the exercise. You drill down to what you really want. I even think it’s a good thing to do every day for at least a year. Kind of crazy, but I did it for a year about 80% of the time and the discipline truly showed me what I want to do. It would be impossible to write it out that many times if it wasn’t. :)

  2. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Anthony.

    It’s awesome that you do it every day.
    It’s not easy to have this kind of focus every day. But it’s totally worth it.

    I’m glad that you did it this way.
    Because to get crazy results you need crazy determination.

    Well done!

  3. Benny,
    You’re right about getting institutionalised from staying too long. I left my last job after 2 years becuse I knew if I stayed any longer I would be stuck doing something my heart wasn’t fully in.
    You’ve got to give yourself a chance be different. That might require some time but headspace is as important.
    I’m taking an extended break from work at the moment to explore other avenues and allow other passions – photography, writing – to flourish.
    Peter

  4. I do know why, but these kind of articles are starting to sound a bit cliche. In my opinion, you just seeing the same thing been said in an article. :

  5. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks Peter for sharing your experience.
    I’m happy for your new path. Sounds exciting!

  6. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Brian,
    Maybe, but sometimes even cliches work wonders :)

  7. Rich_UWDC says:

    Great article. It sounds like benny has found the perfect job mentoring and helping people grow buy working with a network marketing company as I do. :)

  8. James P says:

    Let me be a naysayer…but first, thank you Benny for this painfully simple yet not always obvious exercise. If it changes someone’s life for the better then “yay”, but here’s my “nay:”

    Over the past several years, I’ve read many similar posts written by other online life coach types. The story arc has gotten to the point of utter predictability…

    1)Worked hard at a corporate job doing what he/she/society/parents initially thought was ‘right’ –>
    2)Felt unfulfilled creatively/emotionally/spiritually–>
    3)By a leap of faith, chose to ‘follow their dreams’–>
    4)Now write blog articles and Kindle Singles on how you too can do it! The End.

    Here are some of my hesitations:

    1) I think this advice generally lends itself best to entrepreneurial and creative pursuits, and especially ‘online advice-giving life-coaches.’ Obviously some people have chosen to pursue other dreams in which talking about it is not in their current job description, and are therefore not accounted for. But there sure does seem to be a correlation…
    2)Most people, being the curious apes that we are, do not have a definitive purpose or dream to pursue, and constantly reading others (online life coaches) giving this advice may make folks less satisfied and more confused, especially when there is no direction given on how one might go about systematically developing a dominant purpose. For instance, if money weren’t an issue, I’d like to travel, read, plant a garden and partake in different mind expanding adventures. If anyone has figured out how to turn that into a living without becoming an online blogger (making my readers jealous), please do let me know…
    3)There is scientific data that supports the idea that first comes work, then comes passion…meaning…once you develop mastery in a particular field of study, you are much more likely to enjoy doing it. The problem is…most people quit when it gets hard (having, perhaps, read many a blog articles such as this) and therefore never become passionate.

    Just my 2¢.

  9. Stevercc says:

    Oh, “How to Really REALLY Find Your Life Purpose…” Okay, I thought it was just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ONE-really motivational screed, which seems to be about as common these days as the “You Won’t Believe These Three Simple Tricks for Shedding Neck Fat” click bait listicle.

    Sorry, but 99.99% of the people reading this flat out CAN’T just turn their backs on their jobs and go skipping off into a fragrant field of daisies to pursue career and spiritual fulfillment by crafting poplar twigs into decorative teacup cozies. They have mortgages, rent, taxes, car payments, and kids to raise. There’s nothing “comfy” about making sure your family isn’t living out of the trunk of your car.

    I’m an award-winning writer and would love to shuck my day job and freelance full-time. But I know at least a dozen people who have tried and failed. Not because they didn’t really believe in themselves. Not because they didn’t read enough books about how to do it but because they ran smack into reality: a dearth of available work, vendors who refuse to pay, and unplanned expenses that cut into their profits. The only people I know who’ve been able to pull it off were either married to someone who had sufficient salary and benefits to support their spouse’s efforts, or were living in their parents’ basement had had minimal life expenses.

    Also, let’s be honest. A huge majority of people lack the aptitude, discipline, and/or fortitude needed to become professionally independent. You can take all the courses you want, but if you don’t have a innate talent for selling and driving yourself that is as potent as the passion for “what you were meant to do,” failure is pretty much a given.

    So, instead of trite, hackneyed platitudes about “doing what you love and the money will follow,” how about some advice about pursuing your passion while you’re in the car traveling from your first job to your second job and helping your kid complete his overdue science fair project?

  10. Ann Njeri Davis says:

    It’s called follow your instinct. Live your Dream, no one will live -it -BUT -YOU.

  11. Benny Malev says:

    Hi James,

    And thanks for your feedback!

    Let me address some of the issues you raised.

    It does seem that many entrepreneurs made their fortune by quitting their job and following their dreams. But there’s one thing no one seems to talk about.

    It doesn’t happen instantly.

    You don’t quit your job to start a business the next day.

    Some did this exactly and succeeded. But all the others?
    They’re working their socks off WHILE having a day job to realize their dreams.

    I believe that each and every one of us has his own dream to pursue.
    The hard part is finding it.

    I believe that when you start listening to yourself, you don’t end up frustrated. Instead you get energized by your true passions and strengths.

    Nothing drains your life out of you like a job that you hate. So taking time to connect with yourself and find what truly excites you will definitely improve your life.

    Do you want a definitive guide that leads you to find your life passion?

    Nobody talks about it, but here it is:

    None exists.

    And that’s because we’re all different. And the only way to find happiness is to LISTEN to yourself. What a guide can do, is give you the tools.

    Navigating to your life purpose without tools is like trying to search the web without google. Sure, you’ll get some results, but they’ll be far from what you can achieve with the right tool.

    And yes, you can turn your passions into a living. But the trick is to find how it serves others and helps them lead a better life.

    Let’s take your passion: Travelling.
    Not much money there, right?

    But what if you could use your knowledge to help others get cheap tickets by planning their itinerary better? The options are endless.

    I agree that most people quit when the going gets tough. But most people work in fields that make them miserable. Why would you want to spend years over years of your time and energy in a field you chose pretty much randomly?

    Isn’t it better to spend some time and energy figuring your passion instead?

  12. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Steve,

    I agree with most of your points.

    But I think you misunderstood me.

    I’m not pushing people to quit their jobs.
    As I wrote to James, there’s a long stage before that. One in which you chase your dreams WHILE you work a day job.

    Sure, it’s hard.
    But so is leading a life that makes you miserable.

    You picture a guy who juggles his duties with no time to spare. But most people aren’t like that.

    Most people lie to themselves. They convince themselves that they have no time to spare. Just to turn on the TV the next moment.

    So why not use this time for something that truly matters to you?

    This brings us to your strongest point:

    “A huge majority of people lack the aptitude, discipline, and/or fortitude needed to become professionally independent”

    True. But they’re not doomed. They can change this.

    Courses won’t help them become disciplined. This requires determination and hard work.

    A course can give you the tools when you are ready to work hard using them.
    But working hard is not enough. Working hard on what really matters to you and makes you happy, that’s what makes the difference.
    That’s what keeps you going even when the going gets tough.

  13. Benny, a fun read! Congrats to you for finding something you enjoy to do for your life’s work!

  14. Stevercc says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. Sorry if I come across as cynical (as a journalist by trade and training, it’s my default approach) but I still stand by what I said.

    For one, chasing a dream “WHILE you work a day job” often ends up as just that… chasing. I don’t consider it lying to yourself if you’ve had to work late, take the kids to practice, come home and get dinner made, do some chores around the house, and then decompress in front of the TV for a couple of hours. People shouldn’t feel guilty for the comfort of some down-time in what, for most people, is an extremely harried and stressful day. COULD they turn off the TV and work on their dream job? Probably. (Presuming, of course, that that preparation is something that can be done after working hours and before bedtime. Not all dream chasing involves a cup of coffee, a laptop, and few quiet moments alone in the breakfast nook.) But most people just aren’t naturally that driven.

    Which leads to my second point, that people may not realistically have the aptitude and/or resources to get it done. Many years ago, I decided to do something similar to what you described. At a low-paying and high-stress job, I decided to start my own business: a trade publication for collectors. I had a little start-up money and no business experience, but I took a lot of courses, read a lot of books, wrote a business plan, and worked most of my free time. I was younger then, single, and had fewer responsibilities. But I wasn’t in a financial position where I could just quit my regular job to work it full time. I joined a barter group to help offset expenses. I had some help from friends and families and kept it going for about six months. Eventually, I couldn’t keep up with what needed to be done: sales, promotion, editorial, photography, layout, advertising, fulfillment, etc. It would have been a challenge to do full time but was just not possible on nights and weekends. I was also not great at sales. I sincerely tried (went to motivational sales lectures and read all the books) but it is just not a skill I possess. And with all the other things that needed to get done, I didn’t have time to work on getting better at it, nor could I afford to hire someone to do it.

    Bottom line… I could not afford to give up my job and simultaneously increase the business to the point where it could eventually sustain me. My choice was to give it up or risk incurring huge loans, losing health benefits, and moving in with my parents, probably for the following 10 years. I wasn’t willing to take that risk and don’t regret abandoning my dream. It might have worked and I could have found a financial independence that I had only dreamed of. But the risk was substantially greater than the reward. I liked what I was doing and it made me happy. But I just couldn’t do it. Had I had a family to support then, I wouldn’t even have been able to attempt it.

    So, sometimes you work hard AND it matters to you AND it makes you happy… and what needs to happen to make it a reality just isn’t realistic. Sometimes the money DOESN’T FOLLOW.

  15. Ankit yadav says:

    Nice article Benny. I had a similar transformation when I was 15 and came across a self help book. It repeatedly expressed the idea that “thinking big” can help you live your dreams which I found so opposite to the usual opinion. Even though I did not instantly start believing it, it ruffled me enough to dig deeper and I started looking for more inspiration. And sure enough, it was all around, with all the self help blogs, books etc. I can honestly say that if I hadn’t read that book, I would have been truly lost by now. Perhaps gearing up for some routine boring job interview and not working my own website. :)

    Good post.

  16. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks Steve for sharing your experience.

    I agree that sometimes watching a bit TV can do no harm to following your goals.

    But if it becomes a regular task that takes a hour or two every day, you’re in trouble. This choice sabotages your chances of achieving your dream.

    Sometimes there are signs that you lead an unhealthy life style.

    That you should walk another path. For instance when you use alcohol regularly to decompress.

    If you require TV regularly for that, then you should rethink your choices.

    Do they still satisfy you?

    I understand that having your experience makes you doubt the very idea of following your dreams.

    I’m glad that you tried starting your own business following your dream.

    And I feel all the pain you went through, not succeeding even though you put all the effort that you did.

    Your experience is very important for your own growth. And you must fail several times before you succeed.

    Sometimes we need further guiding, and the tools we have are not enough.

    Rearranging your schedule might also help you have more time for what’s important to you.

    I’m a morning person. So for me it was straight forward that I need to get up early and do the most important things first thing in the morning (before going to work).

    This means doing things that are developing your business first thing in the day.

    My first few attempts using the exercise I mentioned in the post put me in the direction of my purpose in life. But it was only a direction (as I was to find out). Only after few repetitions was I able to find my true life purpose.

    Is trade publication for collectors your true passion, or is it owning a business?

    Owning a business is not a strong enough incentive on its own.

    The question you should ask yourself is not how do you make money being self employed.

    It’s what truly makes you happy, and how can you keep doing it.

    After you follow your passion and learn a lot about it, you can build a business around it.

    At my first attempts trying to realize my goals I did many mistakes, from which I learned.

    The biggest and not so obvious one, is I was still trading my time for money.

    And as you wrote, there is a limit to what you can do after your day job. That’s what makes us fail even when we work hard to achieve our goals.

    That’s why this model – trading time for money, sucks.

    It just doesn’t scale.

    A better model, and one that requires more creativity, is make your products work for you.

    You need many hours to think. To take what you love and create a product. One that requires little attention when it’s ready.

    Developing such a product is not easy. You need to survey your potential clients what they really need.

    You need to adapt your idea to a stand alone product or an automated service. You need to launch online campaigns. To market it.

    But there’s one thing that does help you do these things and that’s blogging.

    When you start blogging about your passion. When you start helping people with your knowledge about this thing. You get feedback. This feedback is invaluable.

    It helps you define your product and build it exactly to the needs of your potential clients. And that means you’re no longer walking in the dark.

    Happiness and fulfilment is not about just doing what you love. It’s about the convergence between this and how can you use it to help your others.

    When you think this way and help others, money will follow eventually.

    But for money to follow you need to do things in the following order:

    1. Connect with your audience (potential clients), and keep a continuous conversation with them (e.g. blog).

    2. Understand your audience biggest problems and struggles.

    3. Come up with product ideas that intersect your passion with what your audience needs to solve their problems.

    This process might take YEARS. And it requires patience and determination, to keep going at hard times.

    Could you take your passion and realize it using this model?

    I hope I gave you some food for thought.

  17. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks Ankit!

    You’re so lucky you were able to start working towards your business at that young age. I’m glad you found a book that challenged your thinking. One that helped you question conventions and follow your heart.

    You have a cool website and I wish you success :)

  18. Lea says:

    Hi Benny,

    Congrats on this post!

    I’m glad that you included money not being an issue in finding your purpose. So many people pick what they want to do with their lives based on financial gain, then end up unhappy. I know money is of importance but if that’s your sole motivate you’ll feel unfulfilled.

    Great advice, it’s simple and gets the job done!

    ~Lea

  19. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks Lea!

    I’m glad you like it :)

  20. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Vanessa,

    Great example.

    Thanks!

  21. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Simran,

    You should only do the exercise AS IF the money weren’t an issue.
    This way you can clear all the noise from your head and find your true passion.
    After you do that you should look for ways to follow your passion after work hours. And you may work towards building a business around it.

  22. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Jigar,

    Great question!

    Optimally you should look to work in what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about.

    If you’re pressed about money, you should look for a job that leaves you enough time to follow your passion and to work towards building a business around it.

  23. Benny Malev says:

    Rampart,

    You should take one step at a time.
    First you work towards eliminating the debts that stop from chasing your dream.
    But at the same time you should be careful not to get into new debts.
    Getting out of debts is a whole different area and there are lots of books you can read to help you.
    Debt-Proof Living: How to Get Out of Debt & Stay That Way is just one.

    Another thing to consider:

    Traveling the world might be expensive.
    Do you believe this is your true passion? Or are you enchanted by the 4-hour work week idea?
    Because the joy of traveling in the sake of traveling eventually wears out.
    True happiness comes when your passion intersects with helping others, and finding this intersection is the hard part.

  24. Benny Malev says:

    Victor, that’s great!

  25. Benny Malev says:

    That’s wonderful,
    You’re most welcome!

  26. Hey Benny,
    This is a great post. One that resonates with me.
    I used to work at a corporate job, a very glitzy one in the south of France. But I was painfully unhappy. At heart, it was because I was using my energy and talents to help banks get richer. Something I didn’t feel good about.

    I agree with the naysayers. You can’t quit right away. I started by pursuing my passions outside of work. It was yoga and ayurveda. Slowly things unfolded for me.

    I remember when I did my first yoga training. I thought – How will I ever get students? I couldn’t make my living doing this. And I didn’t right away. I went back to my corporate job and started to teach yoga once a week in the evening. Then I took a sabbatical, and was offered a job as a manager at a retreat center. A few years later I moved back to New Orleans and opened my own yoga studio.

    Things happened organically. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I could see enough to proceed in the right direction. And that kept me from going into a severe depression.

  27. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    That’s wonderful that you opened your own yoga studio!

    I agree that for most people following their passion outside of work is best. Until they’re able to build a business around it.

    You are right about not being too stressed about seeing the end of the tunnel. As long as you believe in your path and fulfill your passion, by taking one step at a time.

  28. Tor Refsland says:

    Great post, Benny.

    I know all too well what you are talking about.

    I`ve been there, done that 😉

    It`s a special feeling the day you decide to escape the 9-5 rat-race 😉

    Tor Refsland

  29. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks Tor!

    It’s a special feeling indeed :)

  30. Ladies In Blogging says:

    It’s a great exercise to do and needs to be revisited regularly to remind yourself of what’s important. You have a choice to next get stuck in a job you hate.

  31. DP says:

    Great post, Benny. Obviously, easier said than done, but the jump is well worth it! Writing down your goals and focusing on them daily will do wonders to put your head in the right place to succeed. Positive thinking and mindset is underrated. By forcing yourself to positively focus on your goals will subconsciously set you up for success.

  32. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks DP.
    You’re absolutely right.

  33. Steve says:

    I love this exercise for two reasons. It’s setting your priority and getting you to focus exclusively on that. Like many people, I have many different dreams and goals, but I can’t possibly work on all of them. If I spread my time between them too, I’ll just do most of them half-assed. I’d rather just do them one at a time. That’s the quickest, easiest way to get from where I am now to where I want to be. I’m glad that you put this out there because I think it’s really helpful.

  34. Benny Malev says:

    Hi Steve,

    You’re absolutely right about how this exercise helps to focus on the single most important thing. I’ve not expanded about it in the post, so thank you for stressing this benefit :)

  35. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks Evan.

    You made great points!

    I totally agree that you don’t “have” to start your own business.
    Starting a business is not a goal. It’s a tool. A platform.
    For instance, if your passion is to be an actor, you might as well be employed and fulfill your dream.

    If you find a company and position that aligns well with your purpose in life, then jump on it.

    The secret is in truly listening to your heart.

    Thanks for your wonderful comment!

  36. Ali says:

    Thank you for the content, I actually enjoyed this article a lot. Seeing your point of view on the topic was very insightful. I liked the Working a Corporate Job Changes You in a Creepy Way section the most probably, it made me laugh because if you think about it–it really it is pretty accurate.

    Thanks!

  37. Benny Malev says:

    Thanks Ali!
    I’m glad you enjoyed the article :)

  38. Susan Suehr says:

    Very good post about how to go about finding what drives your passion. Thanks for the helpful advice.

  39. Benny Malev says:

    Susan, you’re most welcome :)

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