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Finding a purpose

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*** Mod's note: Merged with earlier thread. - sN ***

This is a quote by Ayn Rand on how to choose a carreer:

"You asked me if I have any suggestions to give you about the choice of a career. That, as you probably know, is something that no other person can suggest to you. I can only tell you this: don't expect any outside circumstance or observation to give you a desire for a particular career. That desire comes from your own convictions about life, its purpose, what you want to do with it, and in what form you want to express it. When you say, "I want something that can mean to me what your writing means to you"—it seems to imply that you hope to find it just by looking around and waiting to have your interest aroused. You will never find it that way. What you should do is ask yourself what do you consider the most important thing in life, and why? When you have thought that out carefully, the work that you want to do will suggest itself, and also the desire to do it. But you certainly don't have to hurry. When you say, "Why is it taking me so long to find it?" you are really a little too impatient. I think I understand your impatience, and it is natural that you should feel it, but at the age of 16 your choice of a career for life does not really have to be set. There are no rules about this—some men make a choice earlier, some much later, and any age is proper for any particular person. If you have not made your choice, it merely means that you are not quite clear enough about your basic convictions. Since you seem to have an unusual mind, it might take you longer than it would another, simpler person. So I suggest that you think about it, but do not worry too much."

My problem is, I don't know what is important in life. Is there a good way to find that out?

Edited by softwareNerd
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Take some risks, with your present circumstances, step waaaay the hell outside your comfort box. You will find out real fast what is important in YOUR life. Next, make an assessment of what you discover. Do you like what you have discovered or not. If so, the rest is easy. If not, well -- you have some work to do, philosophically and/or psychologically. It is all work that can be done, though maybe not easy work. Then step out of the box again.

I know this is a bit radical and some will disagree, but you can waste your whole life waiting for it to come to you safely. Life is too short for that.

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What an excellent question! And one I think many people have struggled with in the course of their life.

Here is my answer - and of course I have to base it on my experience and how I approach this question - I agree with Ayn Rand that you shouldn't hurry. Depending on your age, and more importantly how long you have felt free and confident in living for yourself and not others - this can take quite a bit of time. And also, keep in mind that your purpose in the short term, may change over time.

Career-wise, my "purpose" had for many years to be the best recruiter I could be - to work with different companies, learn new industries, and be the best I could possibly be at finding hard to find technology professionals to fill positions. I enjoyed this very much. A second purpose was to make money to help my husband support our family. Of course, since I had my first child, a very important purpose I have had is to teach my kids to be "the most they could be". But how I did that and why changed drastically once I started to understand Objectivist.

I am guilty of waiting for a purpose to find me, both career wise and family wise. At least for the first 30 years of my life. However, since understanding - wait, my purpose doesn't have to be dependent on my family, or some religion, or some altruistic purpose, my ideas have changed. I loved that career, but it wasn't what I wanted to be "when I grew up". I wanted to be a writer, or a musician, and never did anything productive about it to reach those goals.

For the past two years, I have stayed in the same sort of role (recruiting/HR) because that is what I was pretty good at, and well, I needed to support my family. However, I have slowly been working towards getting out of that career and figuring out how to do so, and work towards writing - even if that "purpose" would only end up being a hobby. My circumstances have also changed quicker, in that right now I am "out" of recruiting, as I was laid off two months ago.

So what have I been doing? Well, we pulled on kid out of school to home school - and that is a side purpose now. I am full into it, and have found that I am getting better at writing because of all lot of extra work I need to do in order to write up lesson plans, create some of my own curriculum for her, etc. So my main focus is on my short term purpose - that of teaching my kids to think for themselves, teach them (while keeping in mind the whole hiearchy of learning, etc.), and do everything I can to write on the side.

Where will that lead me? Well, I hope to pull out the youngest for next year or the year after to home school her as well. This will still be short term - I very much keep in mind Ayn Rand's very astute comments she made in that Playboy interview, that a mother that is focusing on raising her kids needs to find something else to do to support herself when that job is over. I am working on a plan (one that will take several years, I know!) where I can further my education, either through formal college, or just self learning so that I can be a decent writer, and work towards writing a book, or at least writing high quality material that others will enjoy reading, even if it ends up just being a blog. I have several ideas I need to flush out. I love to write, that is my passion, though I am not very good (or very productive) at it right now.

First you need to understand your values to figure out what is important to you in life. And you also have to "live life" a bit to discover what other things out there that may interest you and drive you. Sometimes that is not always easy to find if you are just in a routine that is not allowing you to go out and explore more.

My advice, and probably the only worthwhile thing I can offer you, is to try stepping outside your comfort zone and explore life more fully. Case in point - I would never have known two of my kids would have a passion for fencing if they never tried it.

There is one friend from our local Objectivist group that I have noticed had been investigating several different types of Meetup.com groups in the area. I applaud this - he is truly stepping out of his comfort zone and trying new things. It is impressive. Will that enhance whatever passion he has, or help him find a new one? I don't know - but I do know that he is doing the work to explore, and that is commendable.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have some problems with my central life purpose.

Since I can remember, my CPL was to be a comics creator - to write and draw my own comics. I decided it explicitly in my teens but I was never able to take it seriously.

It's been so long I can't help but feel ridiculous when I say this now. It's still what I long to do, but since I chose to be a parent and failed at it, I feel that I don't deserve this original dream anymore.

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Jill, I'm not sure what you mean. Did you try to write/draw your own comics and fail, or fail at being a parent?

Either way, you shouldn't necessarily just give up because you failed at something in the past. Examine why you failed, learn from your mistakes and move on. Dwelling in the mistakes of the past and using that as your reason for not trying again will only make you miserable. This Dr. Hurd blog entry is pertinent.

Now if you legitimately tried something and discovered you don't want to pursue it, that's another thing, but you should still learn from that experience and move on.

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Because I spoiled the relationship with my child (according to my principles) I feel I failed as a parent and my stories and art don't have any meaning anymore.

Dr Hurd is great. That idea of making a list of ways to get out the realm of regrets sounds good, although I don't know what to put on it. Hmm.

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Are you certain the relationship between you and your child is irreparable? Even if the answer is yes, you still need to figure out how to move on with your life.

I love Dr. Hurd too. He says somewhere there on his site that he does phone and email counseling as well as face-to-face office appointments. If you don't live near him, perhaps you could pay for an email or phone conversation or two and he can help guide you a bit?

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  • 4 weeks later...

i don't know if i could say what my pupose in life is...to really determine if you have a purpose in life is to have lived through it. i dont believe in god or anything but its hard to say what your purpose is. if its like what evryone is saying like teaching or anything like that then my purpose is to ride along the beach and never look back on anything because it pure freedom and maybe thats a purpose...maybe its to expirence life in your own unique way and be proud of what you did...

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