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The Ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself” is one of the proverbs that is applied to those whose boast exceed what they are. When the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable they say.

Purpose simply put means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. It could be deduced to mean also, a person’s sense of resolve or determination.

Man’s search for meaning is a primary force in his life. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning.

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Frankl (1959) refers purpose to “inner strength”, as that which is ultimately responsible for the state of one’s inner self, as that which has an “inner hold” on the moral and spiritual self and as the “why” or reason for living, that motivates a person’s life. He further added that, ‘purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond the self’.

Most people have no clue of what they want to do with their lives, even after school or after getting job. It’s a struggle almost every adult goes through. “What do I want to do with my life?” “What am I passionate about?” “What do I not suck at?”

Here are some series of questions to help one figure out practical ways to discover ones purpose in life. These questions are by no means exhaustive or definitive. In fact, they’re a little bit ridiculous. But it has being fashioned that way because discovering purpose in life should be something that’s fun and interesting, not a chore.

  • Listen to your dissatisfaction.
  • Listen to others.
  • Listen to your gifts/talents.
  • Listen to your passions.

In other words,

  • What is true about you today that would make your ‘8-year-old self’ cry?
  • What makes you forget to eat and work?
  • If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?
  • If you had to leave the house all day, everyday, where would you go and what would you do?
  • How are you going to save the world?
  • How can you better embarrass yourself?

Note – living a life avoiding embarrassment is akin to living a life with your head in the sand. Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you; chances are the more you need to be doing it.

A nihilistic person doesn’t believe he/she has a purpose and is of the opinion that life has no meaning. Well, that doesn’t matter because not believing that you have a purpose won’t prevent you from discovering it, just as a lack of belief in gravity won’t prevent you from tripping. All that a lack of belief will do is, make it take longer.

By Anyaele Samuel.


Frankl, V. E (1959). Man’s search for meaning; An introduction to logotherapy. Boston: Beacon.

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