How To Find Your Purpose In Life And Why Life Is More Than A Big Job

Don’t let your days, weeks or months go by without setting new goals.

I had already made quite an impression when my parents decided they would “tame” me. I came home every day from early childhood classes and my first day of kindergarten, with the full and undisciplined confidence that people could easily tell I wasn’t going to be around very long. The fact that I was still an infant by her second birthday, in any case, made me the “tamed one.” It was a good thing; I was already feeling self-assured. Then, two years later, I would enter fifth grade and all my friends (now teens) all seemed to have their own passions, interests and ambitions. We were also all starting to feel self-assured. In fifth grade, I was able to find my passion for math and, eventually, a job as an editor of a high school newspaper: my life’s purpose.

I didn’t have any “big goals,” but I did have my “small, big and little goals.” My little goals were always a mix of personal satisfaction, professional interest and personal advancement. Because even by those terms I was ambitious, self-motivated, resourceful and determined. But I’d always made a point of getting out of bed on time. I’d always made time for my schoolwork.

            I was in the ninth grade when I finally started thinking of my life in terms of “big, short, and long,” and then I was in the middle of my sophomore year and I felt I already had “small goals” that took up a majority of my attention. I figured out that I didn’t need to set myself huge goals to accomplish a lot. I only needed to set goals in the proper order:

“I want to take this year to learn more about business, because I’ve never really thought about it much and it’s something I’m pretty passionate about,” “I want to become a better writer because it’s something I’m trying to learn,” “I want to go to college and get a business degree,” “I want to take over my dad’s construction company and take care of him for the rest of his life so I make more money, because for the first time in my life I want to learn about real stuff,” “I want to write a novel,” and “I want to start a music label.”

            I didn’t know if I had really thought about these things, or if I had just given myself the opportunity to work on them. I didn’t know if they were “big” or “small” as I’d described them above. I just felt I had to reach them.

            Then I took a job as an editor at a big local newspaper and I learned that writing was an art form that takes effort, so I needed to work harder. I needed to work smarter. I needed to learn how to write better and be more consistent, because it was becoming increasingly more difficult to write my articles. So, by the time I was twenty-three, I had a job—and some confidence—that I could work at any time.

            I’ve had a pretty good life ever since. I started in a field of high demand but I’ve also been lucky to find a great boss that made me feel comfortable enough to do my work and be as creative as I wanted to be. I was able to make things happen for my family by pursuing my dreams but I was also able to make things happen for myself. Sometimes, it’s easier to start something than to finish it. So for me, I think my life has been more about big goals that can’t be done today, that don’t bring me a great deal of satisfaction today, that may someday not be worth the effort. But every day, for me, it has been about putting my head down and keeping going.

            I guess part of the reason I found myself looking for a new career in film-making and directing was because my friends all had their own.