This is part 4 of my 7-part series on how to find your life purpose.
(Image: Mike Baird)
In this article, I share my experience pursuing false purposes for over a decade and how I found my real life purpose. It is a very long article (almost 7,000 words) which chronicles the earlier stages of my life and what I did in each stage. In the process, there were two important things that led me to my real purpose, which you will find out as you read along.
The article is long as I want to fully capture the essence of my purpose discovery, so that you can understand my experience living in a matrix and how I eventually broke out of it. I recommend to read it in different sittings so you can better digest the info.
As you read, you will find that my experiences are specific to my upbringing and the place I lived in as a child (Singapore). This doesn't mean that they aren't relevant to you. My story simply reflects how I was brought up, which reflects one way society tries to fit people into a mold.
Your upbringing may be different, such as being brought up in a deeply religious environment, living in a different society, or being taught different values. Simply transpose my experience to your own life experience. Focus on the message and use my experience as a reference in your learning.
To live your best life, always adopt an open attitude, develop a curious and questioning mind, and evaluate everything you see. This way, you will discover the highest truth for yourself.
Inculcated with certain purposes as a kid
When I was a child growing up in Singapore, I was constantly told by peers, teachers, and parents that our objective in life was to be successful and financially abundant. People who have achieved such statuses are seen as aspirational figures that we should model after, such as celebrities, successful businessmen, corporate leaders, and local politicians.
Not doing well in school meant jeopardizing that end outcome — it was linked with failure and our eventual downfall. Students with poor results or in less reputable schools were frowned and looked upon with shame by everyone. This thinking was consistent across students, teachers, and society.
Among us students, our conversations generally revolved around studying, preparing for exams, and project work. Life's biggest highlights were finishing exams, scoring well, and having holidays. During the holidays, some of my friends who were more competitive would start studying for the next semester. Almost everyone had private tuition, on top of the extra classes that school teachers provided. Life as a child was all about studying and doing well in school.
The equation was simple: Get good grades => Get a good job => Earn a lot of money => Success
Since I was too young understand what was a path of real meaning, I trusted in the judgment of those around me and followed suit. Furthermore, we were taught in school that asking questions was a sign of defiance, and we should never ask questions. This is very typical of the Chinese culture which is very much about conformance (Singapore is a Chinese dominant society, with many aspects influenced by the Chinese culture).
So this was what I fixated myself with. Get good grades, so I could earn lots of money. Earn lots of money, because it is the key indicator of success in society. These goals became deeply ingrained in me.
It became like a mantra over time.
While I was set on achieving these material goals, I continued to wonder about the meaning of life sometimes, starting from when I was 9 or 10. I tried talking about it to one or two friends, but they didn't understand what I was talking about. I would think deeply about this question, but since I could never find an answer, I would park it aside.
That was just a temporary fix as the question would always be floating in my mind. Since I didn't have a real answer, I continued to seek recluse in what I was told by others to be the purpose of life — earning money, achieving material wealth and social statuses, and going through the daily motions.
My first experience living out my false purposes
Throughout my schooling life before university, I was regarded as a top performer. I was consistently the recipient of many scholastic awards, was one of the top students in my cohort, and a model student. If you were to extrapolate my results when I was a kid to adulthood, it was safe to say that I was on my way to live out my intended purpose to earn money and to be extremely successful in the Singapore society.
In 1998, I was 15 years old. I had my very own computer for the first time. At this point, one of my friends told me about this online dude who was earning money through his website. I was immediately intrigued since I knew that earning money was an important goal, based on what I was taught.
So at the age of 15, I started learning web and graphic design by myself, outside of school. The school curriculum in Singapore, especially before tertiary education, is very fixed — there is little choice in what you could study (especially at that time), and you don't get to learn "fringe" skills like web/graphic design if it has no relevance to earning money, GDP, one's future career, etc. (Now web development does have relevance, so I won't be surprised if there are school classes on these.)
I started to learn to make websites by myself by reading online. I would spend late nights tinkering with code, graphics, FTP, and consulting others in web hosting chat rooms.
I developed a site on the same topic as that guy (desktop enhancements), since it was a proven success model. I created my content from scratch and learned about online marketing and monetization. As my site grew in popularity, I used my skills to create other sites, including a wallpaper competition site, a voting site, an anime site, and a forum for wallpaper designers. I also reached out to other web owners to socialize and build a positive community for everyone.
By 2000, I was the owner of a network of 5 sites, with each site being highly successful and well-regarded. By 2001, I had created a total of 10 sites, something that I shared here. My sites soon reached half a million visitors a month, an extremely high traffic milestone then (and today). I was getting checks from advertisers in the mail on a regular basis.
If earning money and being successful were supposed to be my life purpose, I was achieving it in my own way. While peers around me were busy studying, I was earning money and partly living out my purpose. As a 15-16 year old, I was very satisfied with my achievements.
Increased alignment with these purposes
When I was 18, I made the arbitrary goal to earn $1 million dollars and get a convertible in the future. In Singapore where I live, a car is regarded as a symbol of luxury and success due to its exorbitant prices. The limited land area here and government policies have artificially inflated car prices and turned them into luxury goods.
Singapore, being a very material society, further prizes the importance of cars in one's social standing and worth. Convertibles are a different, higher league of luxury goods compared to regular cars. When I was 18, there was a time when my friend drove me around in his Toyota Celica (a convertible which was regarded as very slick then), and this inspired me to get a convertible when I grew up.
The education system in Singapore is very cleanly segmented into phases. The conventional route is to move from kindergarten to primary school, to secondary school, to junior college (if grades permit), to university, and finally to the workforce. This makes up nearly two decades of schooling. The objective of each stage is to graduate with top results so that you can enter into a good school at the next stage. The ultimate objective of the education system is to get a reputable, high paying job.
When it was time to choose my university course, I decided to enter business school as it represented to me the pinnacle of wealth and success. This was the most logical thing that my 18-year-old self could conjure, as someone who had been repeatedly told about the importance of earning money. This was the only thing pummeled in my mind since young, and the only thing I knew since Singapore was the only place I grew up in as a child.
After entering business school, the importance of wealth and success was further reinforced. Everyone's focus was to get a high GPA, build resumes, secure internships, and ultimately gain employment in top companies. The buzz topic was about how to secure a position in a top company — preferably an MNC with excellent growth opportunities, attractive benefits, and a top reputation. On campus, there were plenty of recruitment talks, career seminars, networking events, and company-sponsored competitions. All of them were invariably linked to getting hired by a top MNC.
During university, I kept myself busy. Studies-wise, I focused on what helped me get the best results, spending time on assignments, tests, and projects, and skipping lectures that were a waste of time. I was on the Dean's List, an honorary roll for top students. I eventually graduated as the top student in Marketing and was honored with accolades for being the most outstanding Business student. In the school, I was actively involved in core-curricular activities, building my resume with leadership skills. Outside of school, I was running my graphic and web design business. I also gave private tuition to kids, as part of my drive to earn more money.
When I was a second-year student, I applied for a summer internship with the most prestigious Fortune 100 company for brand management – Procter & Gamble, also touted as the dream company for marketers. Because a placement with them is highly coveted, I was vying with nearly a thousand candidates for that internship, including high flyers in the region. After 6 rounds of qualifying tests, including personality tests, behavioral interviews, and a qualitative test, I was awarded the internship. After the internship, I received a pre-placement offer due to my strong performance. This was two years before my intended graduation.
Overall, I felt that I was living true to the societal purpose to earn money and be successful. I became more confident in my abilities and knew that as long as I worked hard on my goals in life, I would definitely achieve them at some point.
Taking a step back from everything
As I felt that my learning curve in school was plateauing, I decided to opt out of the honors program and graduate one year earlier with a Bachelor's Degree. I was 20 then. Since I had already achieved the widely established goal of education (to secure employment in a top company), I wanted to spend my last year of school relishing in life. I stopped my graphic design business and tuition assignments.
For the first time in my life, I wasn't looped in any pursuit. As everyone around me was busy working on their resumes, studying, applying for jobs, and attending recruitment talks, I was just sitting and watching. This got me thinking about my life and my place in everything.
Thinking about life
Everything was seemingly in the right place — my grades, my employment offer, and my life.
Yet I felt like I was a missing bigger picture. Sure, I was completing my education, regarded as the first major hurdle in life. I had secured a promising career with the best company for my specialization. I was a top performer in school. While achieving these goals gave me a huge gratification at first, they felt strangely empty after a short while.
Have you ever thought about your future before? Not just one, two, or five years into the future. Not just 10 years into the future either. I'm talking about 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years into the future — even to the point of death, and beyond. If you have seriously thought about this before, you would find it an extremely consciousness-raising event.
My free time gave me a lot of time to think. As a very goal-oriented person, I started to think about my future. I started to plan for what's next, on how to live a meaningful life.
I started thinking about the present. I looked at what I had carved out so far — in school, in my work, and in my other endeavors such as my design business. I felt satisfied. There were things that I felt I could have done better in, but overall I was happy.
I thought about 5 years later. Where would I be if I continue my current path? In 5 years, I would probably be excelling in my career, moving up the rungs of the corporate world, earning good money, achieving material goals (nice house, nice car), and enjoying a comfortable life. Basically, things viewed highly in the Singapore society. I started imagining the amount of money I would be earning then, and the thought of earning a lot of money was quite inspiring. In Singapore and many parts of the world, to earn a lot of money is to live a rich life.
I thought about 10 years later. In 10 years, I would likely have earned a few million dollars. I would be more well-off – snuggled in material possessions. Career-wise, I would be well ahead, in a high, leadership position. I would want to have traveled across a large part of the world then, whether as part of my work or for leisure. I might be married then. Given my wealth, I would be able to give my parents an early retirement.
By most standards, the scenario looked pretty good. It fitted society's picture of an ideal life to a tee. I wondered what would be needed to take things to a higher level, but my mind drew up a blank. I didn't know what else I should aim for beyond that. Maybe I could switch industry, such as to consultancy, or switch to a different corporation, to expose myself to a different environment. In the corporate world, management consultancy is a highly aspirational career due to the high perks, the exclusiveness, and the intense challenges. Maybe I could set higher goals to earn even more money since wealth is a measure of worth and power. Maybe I could start planning for kids as a next step beyond marriage.
Then I projected 20 years into future. What if I have achieved those goals then? Worked and thrived in a consultancy, earned even more money, gained new social statuses, and had kids? What's next? I thought I could switch my focus to my family. Perhaps my family and I could migrate to a quiet countryside where we could enjoy a peaceful, relaxing lifestyle. For some reason, I always thought that I would migrate to a western country and this looked like a perfect time to do that.
With that in mind, I projected 30 years into the future. What would be in store for me here? My children would be teenagers by then. What would I be doing? What should I do? I couldn't think of anything much. The only recurring goals were to earn more money, to gain recognition, and to build a loving family. After all, these are the things repeatedly shown to us in dramas, on television, and in the media. These seemed like safe goals to pursue since they are endorsed by almost everyone in the world.
Then I thought about 40 years later. More money, more success. Possibly grandkids by then. Enjoying the bliss of family life.
50 years later. Relishing in a life of luxury, surrounded by symbols of success.
60. Same thing.
At the point of death.
This was when the whole picture looked different.
When I started to project beyond death, beyond the physical world, everything that I had been taught to see as important, such as money, nice apartment, nice big car, material goods, career, status, accolades, and even good looks, suddenly lost their significance.
Missing a bigger context in life
When I started looking at life beyond the context of death, it made no sense to me that our deepest purpose is to create physical possessions and dedicate ourselves only to a few specific relationships until we die. I projected the same scenario for many purposes that I had been conditioned with, but they just crumbled when placed in the bigger context of life and death.
For example, to earn money and be successful. Money was clearly important to me then. I was taught to see that in a materialistic society that is Singapore. Here, there are huge billboard ads of flashy possessions everywhere, very extravagant malls dominating the entire city area, and the ethos of the societal consciousness is all about material goods, earning money, etc. Everything is expensive here and increasingly so over the years. All people talk about here is money; the center of most people's existence here is earning money. Try talking to any local here and that's the sense you'll get. Money or the lack of it is the general thing people talk about.
Money would be even more important to me in 10, 20 years' time, as I pursued other goals like traveling, starting a family, and buying a house. It's also good to have a lot of cash for the rainy days. Having money would determine my quality of life on some level.
But when I thought about the future — beyond physical existence, money stopped mattering anymore. No matter how much money I visualized myself having, I couldn't take it to my afterlife. It did not matter if I had $1 million, $5 million, $100 million, or $10 billion dollars — they would all be worthless after death. All the money that I had spent my whole life earning and surrounding myself with would be nothing more than a fluffy accessory that looked good, but served no deep meaning. Its impermanence made me realize its hollowness as an end goal.
Sure, money would be important during my life on Earth, but I'm talking about life in the bigger spectrum of things. Our entire spiritual existence. I believe that we are souls that live forever, and our time on Earth is merely a small part of our entire existence. Our death on Earth merely demarcates the end of our current physical life, not our life as a spirit (and I don't mean this with any religious connotations). When physical death comes, you can't bring your money with you since it is a physical, man-made creation. And if you spend your entire life focusing on earning money as the ultimate end goal but it has zero bearing on your spiritual existence, doesn't that become pointless?
It isn't just with regards to money either. This also applied to other commonly extolled goals, such as fame, recognition, or to own expensive possessions. I simulated different scenarios in my mind and pictured myself achieving the highest level of success in them. Each time, the situation looked good in the physical world, only to crumble when I projected beyond death. All the things which I would spend so much time and energy building up (in my imagined world) stopped mattering beyond our physical existence.
Say if I were the CEO of the largest consumer goods company, earned $100 million dollars a year, lived in a huge 4-story mansion, or owned 10 Ferrari's. It wouldn't matter at all after death. It would be nice during my short 80-90 year human existence. But it would be pointless, say, in my entire ten-thousand or hundred-thousand-year existence as a spiritual being who is being reborn into different lives.
Another example is in the area of relationships — such as being filial, starting a family, or fostering strong relationships with friends. A relationship is essentially a dyad between two individuals. When the individuals are gone, the relationship itself is lost as well. I will die someday, and so will the other people in the relationship. This applies whether it's with my kids, parents, friends, sibling, spouse, etc. Our memories and awareness of our time together become lost, and the relationship disappears. What is the place of relationships in our spiritual existence of say a million years, if we keep forming relationships but lose them each time we die, then rebuild them when we return to the world? Furthermore, how about all the other 7 billion lives on the planet? Do they not matter just because we were not born into those families, because we have no familial ties with them, and/or because we don't know each other?
In addition, I didn't understand why we are part of this cycle of life and death which has seemingly no end. Why are we brought into this world, if we are to die? Why is new life constantly being created only to end at some point? Why is there life and death? What is the real point of life? Is there an endpoint to this cycle?
The more I thought about it, the more confused I was. Everything was bringing more questions, not answers.
All these made me realize that there is a much bigger context to life than what society and people around me kept painting. While society and people around me kept focusing on shopping, buying things, food and eating, gossip, earning money, and statuses, there is something bigger out there. The purposes I had been pursuing in the past decade seemed to be flawed. I do not deny that there are merits behind these objectives, but they clearly have no role as a singular life purpose. It seems that there is a bigger framework that holds all these together, a bigger framework I was not privy to yet.
I started sounding out my friends. I tried to share with them my revelations about the hollowness of the goals we had been pursuing. I tried to trigger them to think further about their lives.
To be honest, no one cared about me. Everyone was too busy studying, sending resumes, and securing interviews. While some understood what I was talking about intellectually, there was no emotional resonance. To be honest, no one really cared about what I was saying — they probably thought I was crazy. Everyone was more interested in continuing on in the loops of society, rather than really thinking about the deeper meaning of their life and the point of what we were striving for.
Suddenly, I felt all alone in the world. It was a kind of loneliness that I had never experienced before.
Pursuit to discover my real purpose
In hindsight, it was only when I stopped getting caught in the whole frenzy of pursuing a societal purpose that I realized how drone-like it was. As I observed others from the sideline, everyone was caught in a race of some sort. They were busying themselves to achieve a certain outcome (be it earning money, getting XYZ job, getting good marks for an exam/assignment, etc.), but did not really stop to think about whether this outcome was what they wanted. They kept worrying day-in and day-out about their results, interviews, and job placements. Nobody thought about their life beyond that.
What kind of life were they looking at after school? What kind of life did they want to live in 5, 10, 20 years? No one really thought about that. Their life objective seemed simplistically narrowed down to 1) getting a good GPA, and 2) getting a job offer. It was if they were sleepwalking through their lives.
Ironically, that was probably a very adept descriptor of me before I stopped to think about my future.
Interestingly, despite all the time we spend in school, there is never any formal education on discovering our life purpose or even discovering ourselves. Despite all the time we spend living, the fraction of time people spend thinking about their purpose is minuscule, even non-existent.
Compare this to the time we spend doing other things instead. Say, study, eat, make money, buy things, chat, watch TV, discuss news, go out, and sleep. Surely something of such fundamental importance deserves more attention than anything else! Everyone seems more involved in going through the motions every day than to find out why they are here. This is especially so in Singapore, where life is essentially a drone existence, where the whole point of life is just to earn money, work, and die. Basically to live a template existence. To be honest, this is probably the same in places like Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, or places where human rights are low, individuality is devalued, and people are treated as dispensable cogs in the wheel.
Reading books on purpose
I tried reading books on purpose. Many of them give half-baked answers without tackling the question at its core. Instead of helping the reader to discover his or her purpose, the authors declare what their purpose is (along the lines of 'serving the highest good of all,' 'unite with god,' 'be happy,' or 'live life to the fullest') and assume it should be the reader's purpose as well. While their purposes have merit, I was not looking for them to 'tell' me what my purpose was just like everybody else. I was looking for pointers on how to find it. I was running into another dead end.
Reading different sites and materials
I also started becoming an avid reader on various consciousness-raising sites, such as Zaadz (now known as Gaia) and Global Mindshift (site now defunct).
One noteworthy piece I read was this winning essay from World Bank. World Bank has an annual essay competition where participants write about their passion and conviction in various world causes, stemming from their real-life experiences. (This depends on the topic for the year.) The piece that struck me was written by this person whose whole life changed when she witnessed her best friend dying in a terrorist bombing. At that point, I was just 20. While I intellectually knew that there were many unjustified mortalities in this world, to read the personal account of someone who had lived through it is totally different.
I also watched a series of videos talking about our human story (the site is gone but a kind soul has uploaded them to YouTube here), which I found a refreshing change from the low-level messages I kept getting fed with in school and by the media.
Seeking meaning in religion
How about my religion? I was born into Buddhism; my parents are Buddhists and my mom is a particularly devoted Buddhist. I would go to the temples whenever expected to do so by my parents. But beyond that, I did not have any understanding or strong emotional attachment toward Buddhism. A funny thing I observed was that whenever I tried to make any comment or ask any question regarding Buddhism, my parents would deem me as being deviant and would immediately shut me up. It was bizarre and made no sense whatsoever. I have no question of doubt that my parents had personal experiences which strengthened their faith but I felt that they are overall unconscious followers.
As I was growing up, I remained largely a detached Buddhist. Most of my friends were like me; they were born into their religion and adopted it as part of their lives, rather than it being a choice made consciously. I assume religion is more of an outlet for people to seek solace in life.
With regards to other religions, I never paid much attention to them since it was a widely known fact that religious texts have been written, rewritten, and modified over the ages by people with their own set of agenda. I was also not able to reconcile with how all the different religions in the world claim that what they advocate to be the single truth. Shouldn't there should only be one single truth in the world? Which religion represents the real truth? Who is right and who is wrong? If there can only be a religion that is correct, how can all the people following different religions be blind to the truth? Since there were only questions but no answers, I kept the topic of religions in the back burner and never thought about it much.
Over time though, my curiosity for the truth started nagging at me. The need for an answer became stronger when I was trying to figure out the actual purpose of our life. While it is easy to write off religions and claim that the followers are unconscious or disillusioned, there are way too many people for this assumption to stand (for example, we are talking about at least 400 million people for the Buddhism (fifth largest religion) and over 2.2 billion people for Christianity (the largest religion)!). For a certain religion to survive and withstand the test of time, I truly believe there has to be a certain level of truth behind it.
I started examining different religions and their beliefs. When I compared them, I observed many commonalities and underlying themes such as the existence of a certain larger power we can tap into; advocation of values like love, compassion, selflessness, wisdom, and courage; use of meditation to attain a peace of mind; observed affirmative phenomena arising from positive beliefs; etc. While the religions come under different names and have different practices/rituals, I realized they are really the same in essence! I started to realize that there is one single universal truth, with each religion being the result of viewing that truth with different cultural lens.
Instead of writing off religions, I realized that everyone in this world with their own set of faith and beliefs are essentially believing in the same thing. They are just doing it in a different manner and with a different interpretation.
Subsequently, I found out that there is an existing movement (New Age) that aligns with what I had concluded (New Age is about seeking the universal truth and the attainment of the highest individual human potential), as well as everything I have experienced in life thus far.
With that, I broke away from being a Buddhist, since it no longer reflected my new understanding of the world. Me being a non-Buddhist does not mean that I do not believe in Buddhist teachings. In fact, my revelation made me more closely connected to Buddhist teachings, as well as beliefs of all other religions, than when I was a Buddhist. Buddhism actually expounds many principles that are in alignment with what I believe in, and it's a much more conscious "religion" than what some followers may make it out to be (to blindly believe the Buddha, the Buddha is always right, etc.). To everyone who believes in their religion, we are really all believing in one and the same thing.
Discovering my real purpose
While my revelation on religions shed light on one of my big questions about life, it still did not answer my fundamental question: What is the point of (human) life and my life?
I started examining what would last through time and space, throughout human existence. The answer that continuously came up was this: consciousness. Our consciousness is our state of awareness and the existence of our being. To put it in simple terms, consciousness is our soul. When we die, we lose our physical bodies. But our consciousness remains in this universe and moves on to a different plane. Depending on your beliefs, you may or may not agree with this — a discussion on this will take quite a lengthy article, which is outside the scope of this piece.
So if consciousness is the one thing lasts through time and space, it is also the single thing worth developing in our lifetime. And let's say we keep developing our consciousness. What is the outcome of its evolution? We can't keep growing and growing, can we? There has to be a certain end point to it. There has to be a certain tangible result that we reach.
I imagined myself evolving to a higher level of consciousness. I also imagined everyone else doing the same thing. The highest, ultimate point I could fathom from scaling up on this goal is the unity of the world. This goes beyond the normal "world peace," "utopia," and "uniting the world" proclamations you typically hear. This is the pure unity of everybody's consciousness — of every single person in the world.
For us to achieve that state, the individual consciousness has to at its pinnacle level first — probably Enlightenment. This isn't enough too. Beyond that, we have to enable others around us to reach the highest level of consciousness. When everyone attains that, that's when our consciousness can ultimately merge and become one single whole. As to what happens after that, we will probably know when we get there.
(To learn more about consciousness, check out Map of Consciousness where I share the 17 different levels of consciousness.)
This made me realize that perhaps the reason we are trapped in the loop of life and death is because everyone is still vibrating at different levels of consciousness. Many people are still stuck at lower levels such as fear, apathy, anger, guilt, and grief. The average consciousness level of the world is currently Fear, Desire, and Pride, which are 9-12 levels below the highest possible level of Enlightenment. If all the individuals in the world attain our highest level of consciousness one day, the cycle of life and death can probably end, since we are all united as a single whole.
So that's it. This was when I realized my life purpose. To reach my highest level of consciousness and to help others do the same (i.e., achieve our highest potential, which is actually my mission for Personal Excellence) — so we, all of us, can eventually be united as one whole one day.
It's quite an ironic realization too. When I was young, I always thought that people who proclaim about uniting the world, pursuing humanitarian causes, helping other people, etc. were ambitionless. It's something to do with the average societal consciousness in Singapore, which is very focused on material success and defining success in the form of having a cushy job in a financial institution, while downplaying other paths in life. Discussions on helping people, giving back, and contribution were never big in school or in banter. Yet by an interesting twist of fate, I now realize that helping others grow is the core reason for my being because it is fundamental to achieving my end goal of uniting the world. There is nothing of higher meaning to me than to pursue this with full fervor and passion.
To crystallize my purpose into a mission statement:
- "To raise the world’s consciousness and unite the world as one."
- "To achieve my highest potential and live my best life, in Excellence, Love, and Truth."
A new-found meaning and passion in life
From then on, I started to embark on my new purpose. This purpose gives me so much clarity, joy, and fulfillment each day. The thought of being in action, helping every single person achieve their highest consciousness, fuels me to no end. It is like an energy reserve that never runs out.
Whenever I see people living lives that are less than what they are capable of, I would be charged up with trying to wake them from their trance. I would think about how to release the mental shackles they place on themselves and their worth. Whenever I succeed in doing so, I would feel a sheer sense of joy and satisfaction that overflows my being.
As simple as these two purpose statements are, they guide me in my everyday actions and decisions. Whenever I am faced with a dilemma, I look back at my purpose to renew my clarity. For example, when I quit my job on Sep 30, 2008, people around me reacted with shock. Some could not fathom why I would make a decision like this. But when I looked at my purpose, it was a very simple and easy decision. My purpose is to help others achieve their highest potential and live their best lives. The career I was in was not in direct alignment with that.
I personally believe that one day, when everyone achieves their highest consciousness, the world will unite and we will move to our next level of existence. It may not happen in the near future, but I believe we are getting there. Just look at the increase in global movements and mind shifts that have been taking place in the past decade — it's undeniable that humanity as a collective has reached a new level of consciousness and maturity. A recent poll 'Is Humanity Growing Up'? (link now defunct) on the perceived maturity of humanity points that we are at the adolescence stage right now. This will no doubt change in years to come.
Note on Jan 2018: Today, 12 years after originally discovering my real purpose, I continue to live fiercely in alignment with it. The journey in these past decade has affirmed what I thought. My purpose has also driven me to do things I would otherwise have never done.
Two Most Important Things That Led to My Purpose Discovery
As I look back, there were two key things that supported me in discovering my real purpose.
1. Discovery of Real Purpose <-> Your Self-Discovery
Firstly, I was able to discover my real purpose because I had achieved a certain level of awareness. The discovery of our purpose is tied to our self-discovery. Without first knowing yourself, you can't know what you want to define as the meaning of your life. You have to first know yourself to get the answer to your life questions.
Since I was young, I have been actively embarking on my personal growth. I would set and pursue many goals, be it academic, business, recreational, or financial. I opened myself to learn and explore. No matter what I was doing, I would set the highest standards. As a teen, I was expected to just study in school. But I was curious to learn and explore, and went online to learn web design, graphic design, and coding by myself. At that time in 1998, the internet was at its infancy. Most people did not use the internet, and my few classmates who did were using it to play LAN games or to chat on IRC.
When I was running websites online, I didn't just stop at one website — I started many websites in many niches, turning each website into a leader in its field, and making money at the age of 15-16. When playing games (I was a serious gamer as a kid), I would go all out and perfect every game, be it fighting or RPG or racing game. Each game I played was an entire universe in itself, and playing and completing every game so fully helped me learned many new things in a short time.
I went all out in everything I did, and still do. Of course, I faced many obstacles along the way, but these helped me learn and grow. These obstacles were growth enablers. If it had been a smooth sailing path, I would still be the same person today.
Even the active pursuit of my false purposes were lessons in growth. As I started to live in line with goals like to earn money, to get a great job, and to have a good social status, I realized they were not what I wanted. Or rather, they are not goals of the highest meaning. If I had not actively pursued them, I would not have found that out. I would still be seeing them as the meaning of life.
All these experiences helped me calibrate and differentiate between meaningful pursuits and non-meaningful pursuits. By knowing myself, I could then discover what I really want to do in life.
2. Your Purpose Should Be Timeless and Universal
Secondly, I learned that a real purpose should be universal and stand true across time and space. Time, meaning it should hold true whether you are looking at your purpose 10,000 years ago or 10,000 years later. Space, meaning it's still what you want to do no matter where you are in the universe.
Things like money, material possessions, recognition, etc, are only relevant to our present, physical reality. They lose significance when we start seeing life as something that exists beyond our current physical plane, and our current lifespan. Say, if I were to die today, all the money, material possessions, recognition, statuses, etc. would no longer matter, since they don't exist outside of this reality. To relentlessly acquire them as ends in themselves would be the equivalent of building a candy fort around you — one that would crumble sooner or later. This made me realize my previous purpose to earn money and gain success were not my real purposes.
By viewing life through an entirely different lens, I was able to identify my purpose that is timeless, ageless, and limitless. My purpose of achieving my highest consciousness and helping others achieve their highest consciousness will never be obsolete because at the end of the day, we are consciousness. This makes my purpose one that is permanent, unshakable, and impervious to anything, and thus makes it an empowering one to live with.
In the next part, I share 6 important guidelines to consider when identifying your purpose. Your purpose will guide you through every act in life, so it is critical that you define it accurately. Read Part 5: 6 Things to Consider Before Discovering Your Purpose