One Simple Way to Find Purpose and Motivation

Today when I asked people what was bothering them, the two most common responses were related to:

  • Finding meaning and purpose
  • Finding motivation

As it turns out, those two things can be solved with one little step.

Here’s the step: help someone else.

This sounds exceedingly simple, but it’s the shift in focus that really makes a difference. Let’s say I was having trouble finding the motivation to write … to solve that, I might tweet something asking people what problems they’re having. Then I move from “how do I solve my problem (of not being motivated)” to “how can I help these people”?

I’m not bogged down by my own distractions or guilt or laziness anymore … I’m focused on doing something good for someone else. Now I’m excited! The words just pour out of me. This is a hypothetical scenario, of course.

Finding Meaning and Purpose

If you feel stuck in your life, or confused, because you don’t have a clear direction and have no way of finding that direction … shift your focus from yourself.

Instead of thinking, “What should I be doing?” or “What could I do to give my life purpose?” … try asking:

  • What could I do to help people in need?
  • What pain are other people feeling that I could help with?
  • Who do I care most about, and what problems do they have?
  • Who are my current customers, and what can I do to help them more?
  • What problems are out there that strangers might have, that my particular skillset could solve?

When you start asking these kinds of questions, your focus shifts from your confusion and problems, to the confusion and problems of others. And when you start solving them, you have purpose. It’s gratifying to help others. It fills you with a sense of meaning and appreciation.

It sounds too easy, but it works 100% of the time. I will give you your money back if it doesn’t.

Getting Pumped with Psychitude

We might move through the day as if in a fog of blueness, slogging through mud, in a slump, feeling no motivation to do anything useful. This is a problem I imagine people of yore didn’t deal with as much. I’m not sure what in our modern condition causes this lack of motivation, but when I figure it out, I will write a poem about it for you.

But the cure is simple and pure and lovely: help others.

Can’t get off your butt to do something useful to your career and life in general? OK. So forget about your life, your career, your little set of problems. That’s a self-focus that doesn’t do anything for you.

Instead, move your focus to others. What pain are other people feeling? Can you help in some small way? Can you ease their suffering just a little? Can you put a smile on someone’s face? Can you change someone’s life?

When you change someone’s life for the better, even just a little, you feel amazing.

This shift in focus … it rocks your world. It sends tremors of psychitude throughout your body and mindbrain. It’s quite nice.

A Few Other Steps

OK, I know I said just one step is needed, but a few other little things to consider:

  • Simplify your day. Do less. Pick just one thing to focus on.
  • Clear distractions. Shut off the Internet. Turn off notifications.
  • Move in one small step. Don’t tackle the whole damn project. Just get started.
  • Get more sleep. Lack of sleep, too little water, too much stress, and too much caffeine are causing your headaches.

Good. Do those few steps, and shift your focus to others, and your mind and entire being will be filled with psychitude like never before.

Source: Zen Habits

Image by Alison Scarpulla

Tags: , , , , , ,