The great and glorious masterpiece of man is how to live with a purpose. – Michel de Montaigne
Money will not make you happy. Neither will poverty make you happy. We need something more than money. What is that? Let us look at the framework below:
The purposeful life is what gives meaning, contentment, fulfillment and real success. To have a purposeful life we must first figure out our purpose in life. What does this mean?
- We must understand what type of life we want to have.
- We must know what principles will guide you.
- We must know how we want to make a mark in our world.
This also means:
We must not be compelled by an external force to dictate how we are going to live our life. Rather we must be impelled by a force that comes from within. This requires reflection about what we want to use our time, talent and money for and not be caught up by what the world around wants you to do.
So we should have values or virtues or personal principles to guide us to what goals we really should have to have a meaningful life. Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues is a good example of personal principles or values that one can have.
1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloths, or habitation.
11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Once we have a purpose we are impelled with and not compelled with and have established the values, virtues and principles we want to live, then we need to have goals. Goals are destinations we want to reach. But unless they have meaning, which is found in your purpose and personal principles, they are of no use and will not excite us.
Goals have to be:
- Specific and measurable: I want to walk briskly for 30 minutes 5 times a week( not I want to exercise)
- Attainable: I want to walk for 1 km( not a marathon initially)
- Meaningful: I want to walk because I want to have a healthy body and a healthy life because that will help me do the things I want to do.
Purpose, personal principles and goals will help you do things which you think are meaningful in your life. Once you do meaningful things, then you will find contentment and fulfillment. You may or may not become materially rich but you will be wealthy. You may or may not meet success as measured by external standards but you will definitely be successful in the real sense. A contented life fulfilling your unique purpose cannot lead to anything else.
One thing to remember is that life is not linear or predictable. Life is filled with positive and negative surprises and change. Failure in certain things is also inevitable. When this happens we need to have leeway and margins which will help us cope and flexibility to change the details of our life accordingly. And when failure happens, we may have to sometimes accept it with grace and keep ploughing on with new goals that will fulfil our purpose.
This framework of living can be applied in all aspects of life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual , financial, etc. And such a purposeful life filled with personal principles and specific, measurable, attainable, meaningful goals and the attitudes of being flexible, having margins of safety and grace to accept when things don’t go as planned can only lead to success in its truest sense.