So what do you do?
How many times have we been asked this question? Whether at a party or another social function, it’s a natural conversation starter. To most people, it is also an initial assessment of a person’s talent and ability – a way for the potential friend to gauge whether they will like us. And naturally, this leads us to talk about a job, usually to describe it in a way that puts us in the best possible light.
I am a mechanical engineer working for XYZ company.
I am a project manager at XYZ logistics company.
I am a partner at a major XYZ firm.
A job defines who we are, and it is the source of our pride and self-worth as human beings. A job is the difference between the employed and the unemployed, and we all prefer to be in the former category.
That job title means everything to us. It means we are living up to our parents’ expectations. We are financially independent and not a burden on society. Most of all, it’s a sense of relief that we are finally getting the return on that expensive investment in education.
However, years down the road when many of us are in the twilight years of our life, how will we still want to define ourselves? Will we still be defined by that job title, an X amount of salary and the status symbols that many young people chase after in their 20s and 30s?
It is hard to contemplate what the future will be for somebody in the early stage of his or her career. But one thing for sure is that no matter at what stage we are in this life, we need to live with a purpose. A purpose is more than a job title; it is a calling in life. A purpose is the answer to the question: what am I here for? Some people find their purpose in their younger days and chart out a path to work towards it. For others, it is a life-long journey to find their purpose through a series of experimentation. Still, others know exactly what their purpose is but are too afraid to make the leap.
You may be an accountant by your job title, but your purpose may be to build a non-profit children’s charity. You may be a successful attorney, but your calling in life may be to be the best writer the world has yet to meet. By day, you may be an engineer but the path the universe has chosen for you is to be an artist and to bring creativity into a mundane world. To know your purpose in life means breaking out of a fixed mindset about your capability and working towards a long-term goal. Having a purpose means never wasting a minute of your life on things that derail you from your mission to contribute your part to the world.
The topic of purpose may not come up very much early in life, but it is what many of us hope that people will remember us for long after life’s final chapter. Meeting that purpose is a contribution to this world and also a legacy that you hope the next generation will build upon as part of their effort to transform the world into a better place.
Unfortunately, there are people who will never find that purpose. But those who discovered their purpose should consider themselves very lucky.