How to Know When You’ve Strayed from Your Purpose

Modern technology provides more distractions than ever before. There’s no use in trying to avoid this fact.  You’re going to get distracted every day, and spend time doing frivolous things you might not have otherwise engaged in. If the path is supposed to be straight and narrow, you’ll have more artillery shells firing on you than ever before.

Being aware of this is the first step to combating it, but sometimes, even that is difficult. How do you know when you’re straying from what you were put in this world to do?

“Advancing with a sense of purpose” is one of the chapters in Robert Greene’s The Laws of Human Nature. Like you’ve seen here before, Robert Greene isn’t speaking of the mindless “do what makes you happy” trope when it comes to finding a purpose. His definition is instead close to ours. What is the work you’re going to do that will make your name last forever?

But that’s easy to say. Staying on that path isn’t as easy as it seems, even if you’re doing otherwise productive work.

2018 was financially my best year ever. And yet, it felt like it was worse than some of my previous years. I’ve now realized that one of the reasons for this is because I was spending my time on lower level activities that gave me pleasure in the moment, and not enough on those things that will advance me to glory.

How can you tell that you’re spending too much time on those things?

If you’re going to bed at night feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing for the day, that’s your cue. You should know that something needs to change.

Robert Greene describes purpose like this:

Consider this “life’s work” something that speaks to you from within – a voice. This voice will often warn you when you are getting involved in unnecessary entanglements or when you are about to follow career paths that are unsuited to your character, by the uneasiness you feel. It directs you toward activities and goals that mesh with your nature. When you are listening to it, you feel like you have greater clarity and wholeness. If you listen closely enough, it will direct you toward your particular destiny. It can be seen as something spiritual or something personal, or both.

It is not the voice of your ego, which wants attention and quick gratification, something that further divides you from within. Rather, it absorbs you in your work and what you have to do. It is sometimes hard to hear, as your head is full of the voices of others telling you what you should and should not do. Hearing it involves introspection, effort, and practice. When you follow its guidance, positive things tend to happen. You have the inner strength to do what you must and not be swayed by other people, who have their own agendas. Hearing this voice will connect you to your larger goals and help you avoid detours. It will make you more strategic, focused, and adaptive. Once you hear it and understand your purpose, there will be no going back. Your course has been set, and deviating from it will cause anxiety and pain.

Does this sound like you? Have you ever been doing something only to feel a certain unspoken anxiety that was hard to identify? If so, your suspicions are pointing you to this place. You need to get back on course.

Louis XIV Versailles Season 2
Louis XIV strayed from his true purpose in Versailles season two. His real life memoirs are an excellent lesson in how to keep on course with it.

When you accomplish things every day and feel your spirit moving higher, you’re probably moving closer to your glory in line with your purpose. If what you’re doing isn’t going to make you feel spiritually fulfilled and won’t contribute to your name being remembered, you’re moving away from it.

Listen closely to the voice within you. If it’s anxious, it’s that way for a reason. If you feel a certain low level, subtle anxiety over the course of your daily activities, you probably aren’t spending time in advancing your purpose. You’re straying from it. You’re probably spending time on things that give you pleasure in the moment but you know instinctively aren’t going to bring you any greater fulfillment. Social media posting, forum posting, or common entertainment are prime culprits.

Always pursue the voice that calls you to a higher aim (which is by definition, toward an end removed from the immediate moment). If you do that every day, the chances are that you’ll make every year feel like your best. Every year will amount to a breakthrough of some kind and in a way that makes you feel the most fulfilled.

But if you get too comfortable or used to the anxiety you feel, as if it’s a normal part of life (there are many things which cause anxiety in us these days – you have to examine each cause carefully), you’re on course to feel disappointment in your year, even if you’ve succeeded in other, objective measures. Listen closely to the voice within you. If you aren’t, you’re going to stray into frivolity.

I’ll have my review of The Laws of Human Nature out in a week or so.

Until then, read Stumped. It’s eighth chapter will help you to find a purpose.