Let Everything You Do Have a Purpose
In July 1910, 35-year-old Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel sailed for England to study and become a Barrister.
In his first week, Vallabhbhai visited the renowned sights of London so that his unsatisfied curiosity didn’t distract him from his studies. After that, his sole aim was to become a barrister and raise his children who were back in India, waiting for him.
Vallabhbhai didn’t want to become a young romantic or political activist, nor was he enamored by the beauty of England, whether in art or flesh. Neither theater nor pleasant outings appeared on his agenda. He wanted to “see the people who, living 7,000 miles away, were able to rule [Indians] for so long.” But he was satisfied with glimpses rather than deep-diving into their culture or landscape.
A student had the option to write the final exam after staying in England for about 20 months. If they passed with honors and spent the next term eating the specified dinners at their Inn, they could be called to the bar six months in advance.
Vallabhbhai wrote his final exam after a 20-month stay in England and passed with first-class marks. But he didn’t want to remain idle for a term, so he requested permission to skip the six months of obligatory dinners. Only when it was denied did he spend the summer of 1912 traveling through England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Vallabhbhai returned to India as a barrister on 13th January 1913 and set the wheels for his practice in motion on the same day.
We cannot adhere to such punishing standards in our lives. And that’s ok. Unfortunately, many people take the opposite extreme.
They amble aimlessly through their days, letting circumstances and other people dictate their thoughts and actions. What they do, what they think, how they spend their money, what they post on social media—consciously and subconsciously, others control everything.
Letting other people dictate your life weakens the spirit. Life becomes a ship captained by everyone except you. It drifts from one place to another, never docking at a destination. When it finally does, you realize that where you ended up was not where you wanted to be at all.
Think about it. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know when your ship is going off course or when your destination has arrived? If you don’t define your goals, how will you direct your effort toward them? How will you know what to say yes to and what to say no to? How will you know when you have enough?
“The answer is that you cannot. And so you’re driven into failure—or worse, into madness by the oblivion of directionlessness.” — Ryan Holiday
A Meaningful Life Has a Purpose
The antidote to this type of miserable life is to set and pursue goals that matter to you. Doing this strengthens your mind and spirit. You discover aspects about yourself that no mentor, book, or course can teach.
When you chase goals borrowed from others, it’s easy to lose the desire to endure when the going gets tough. This, in turn, makes you feel crappy about yourself, and it doesn’t take long to revert to old habits.
But when you choose your own goals, you focus on your tasks, persevere despite setbacks and obstacles, and don’t feel guilty to let go of the tasks that no longer feel relevant.
Examples of the latter include:
- Pursuing a hobby
- Volunteering for a cause
- Becoming healthier
- Learning a skill that will help your career
- Starting a business in a field you’re passionate about.
You don’t have to spend hours working on such goals; pick one of them, and invest an hour a day on itIt’s not hard to find this hour once you reduce watching Netflix and browsing social media..
Sardar Patel chose goals that mattered to him over and over again. And like he did during his visit to England, he single-mindedly pursued them. His remarkable achievements, which earned him the Iron Man of India moniker, stand as a testament.
Does this mean you have to obsess with your goal? Do you have to turn into a workaholic or a parentaholic?
Not at all. Consistency matters more than intensity. Intensity is a short burst of energy that fizzles out quickly. But consistency yields results that compound over time. It’s the best investment you can make in yourself.
This is why rest and leisure are integral to your journey. Engage in hobbies and experiences that rejuvenate you, thus making even leisure fulfill an objective: to help you recharge.
Take stock of whether your actions are moving you towards your goals. You either move towards them or away from them—there’s nothing in between.
It’s never too late to take control of the steering wheel of your ship. Yes, you cannot undo the choices you’ve made in the past or get back the time you wasted. But you change your future by changing your actions today. You can shed your caterpillar skin and morph into a butterfly.
All you have to do is direct every action towards a meaningful goal.
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