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Motivation & Purpose

Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.

– Jack Welch

I know people who think motivation is bullshit. According to them action is what matters. There are even several popular quotes like: “If something matters to you, you do it. PERIOD!” Well, I think different people are entitled to their opinions on motivation. Personally, there are times when I badly need it, and there are other times when I breeze through my activities without it.

If I were asked, I’ll say the most important pillar for motivation is building a strong core cos it’s not temporal like most other forms of motivation. One of the best ways to build a strong core is to have strong reasons for the life you live. We’ve all heard the popular saying by Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Which leads us to: PURPOSE.

The big question: How do I find my purpose or reason to live? This question is one I think many of us have asked, and I’ve read scores of ways to find out one’s purpose, there are entire books, lectures and series of sermons on it. I agree with most of them, but I think the path to discovering purpose is relative to each person and YMMV. One of the most incredible I’ve read goes thus: Get a sheet of paper and pen, at the top write out MY PURPOSE IN LIFE, list out 100 answers to this, when you get to one that makes you cry, that’s your purpose. Well, I’m a little skeptical because that is subject to the emotional state of the person at that time. Let’s say I just finished watching a political movie and I have some small measure of political interest, I may be biased into ending up with being President of my country. I’m gonna try it, but I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.

On the flip side, an awful lot of people think the concept of purpose is bullshit. They believe you make yourself as you go along, and/or you can be successful at whatever you put your mind to. Well, I still think it all depends. There’s a popular true life story of a man who became successful because he was told he was a very successful man who had been reincarnated, and when he went back to the gypsy to thank and bless her, she told him she lied. So much for purpose.

Instead of taking sides on this issue, I would like to know what science has to say instead. I think that one’s purpose or motivation (or any other phenomena familial to this) is strongly related to personality. One of the most advanced studies in personality categorization and insight is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which is deeply insightful. I believe instead of bothering about how best to motivate yourself or what the writing in the sky is about your life (i.e. purpose) it is best to have a deep understanding about yourself instead. That knowledge would open the doors to productivity, self-acceptance and insight in making life choices. There’s no point seeking motivation to perform better in a task that goes against your personality, it’s just counter-productive. I also strongly believe that once you have a deeper understanding about your personality, and you combine the knowledge of your socio-economic circumstances, and your life experiences, then your purpose would be much clearer to you.

Take a personality test here. Let me know your results in the comments below. I’m INTJ-T by the way.

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