Having a clear purpose behind the goal is often what sets high achievers and average people apart. We all know people whose whole life seems to be about starting and stopping. They never really get any closer to their goals. We also know few ultra-motivated people who reach most, if not all the goals that they set.

We call the ultra-motivated people driven, overachieving, type-a personalities. They’re those who don’t let any set back, big or small, stand in their way. They seems to have the willpower of an elephant. How do they do it?

Is it because they possess a superpower we don’t know of? Are their brains wired differently to everyone else’s? Obviously there are outliers, Elon Musk comes to mind, yet most of these goal-kickers are just like any of us. But their superpower, the thing that what sets them apart from most, is that they’ve discovered the purpose behind their goals.

What does it mean to have a purpose

Purpose is the underlying motivation that drives you forward in life. It’s the reason why you need to make more money, lose body fat or get stronger. A purpose is not “I want to be richer, leaner or stronger”. It’s what is behind those vague statements that gives the goals a deeper meaning. The true purpose.

Why having a clear purpose is so crucial for long-term success

You are more likely to quit during hardships (and there will be plenty of hardships and struggles) if you don’t know why you are working towards a specific goal. When you skip this important step in goal setting you are already setting yourself up for a failure. You are behind the eight ball before even starting.

Having no purpose means that even the most fragile obstacles become unbreakable. But having a clear purpose means that even the toughest obstacles become penetrable. Purpose is how you make your strength of willpower seem unhuman to others. That purpose is the driving force propelling you to find a solution when you are stuck in the quicksand.

How to discover your purpose and reach your goals

First and foremost having a purpose means that you are willing to suffer to get to your goals. You have to be willing to do things you don’t necessarily enjoy. To say no to some things you enjoy, even love. To work more, to say no to a night out, to get up before the sunset.

What are you willing to suffer and sacrifice for?

When your purpose behind the goal is as important as the urge to breathe you won’t care if you have to endure suffering and sacrifice in some parts of life. If your purpose is to provide for your family, you don’t care if you need to work few extra hours at night. If your purpose is to be an healthy example for your unhealthy parents, you don’t care if you need to get up early to train at the gym few mornings a week.

Suffering becomes easier when there is a meaning behind it.

What gets you excited to get out of the bed each morning?

What excites you and gets your heart racing? What is something you just can’t stop thinking about? Is there an injustice in the world that leaves you shaking with anger and frustration?

As is with being willing to suffer, being excited about something can be a sign that you are on the right track to finding your purpose. It’s your purpose that’s calling you to get out of the bed each morning.

What do you value in life?

When purpose and values clash there is bound to be disappointment and unnecessary hardship. It’s during these times when people complain about the “lack of willpower”. When in fact it’s because the purpose you thought was yours isn’t what you really value.

This could happen when you work excessive hours, but the work and money don’t have a deeper purpose. The quality of your work declines, you take more “sick days” and your overall happiness and life satisfaction drops. You thought that the work you do gave you purpose yet you don’t find it fulfilling. This could be the case even if you are making bucket loads of money. Simply because having deeper pockets isn’t what you value.

Your purpose has to align with what you value in life. Obviously there are people who are driven by more money. But you’d be surprised to find that even those people have a purpose why they need more of it. And it’s not just about making more money.

Finding your purpose can take time

If you have never stopped to ponder your life on a deeper level don’t expect to find your purpose with a click of the fingers. This only happens in Hollywood, not in real life.

Most people put off thinking about their life and just go with the flow. Then they get to mid-fifties and realise that the things they’ve spend chasing in life aren’t what they really wanted. They just followed a long because that’s what they thought they were “supposed to do”. Whether it’s norms and expectations set by their parents, the society, the celebrities, or the circle of friends.

Stop, take a deep breath and start thinking what gives your life a purpose and a meaning. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose purpose like curing cancer. Your purpose is 100% up to you and no one can tell you it’s right or wrong.

Here are the quick facts about having a purpose

  • Having a purpose answers “why am I doing this?”
  • Having a purpose behind goals can make willpower irrelevant.
  • A true purpose gets you excited and makes sacrificing and suffering easier to endure.
  • Your purpose has to align with your values.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you what your purpose should be.