The Purpose of Purpose


My purpose last weekend was taking a hike on Angel Island

There are two types of people in the world: people who have a solid purpose and those who drift through life without any real direction.

Within these two groups of people you’ll see everyone from business men in power suits, to mother’s nurturing their infants – and often the people with purpose aren’t the ones you’d immediately guess.

In the amazing audio of The Strangest Secret Earl Nightingale explains how the happiest, most successful people in the world are those who know their purpose in life and are avidly pursuing it. Whether their purpose is to run the best gas station in town, have the happiest marriage possible, or build a billion dollar company that changes the world.

Above all be of single aim; have a legitimate and useful purpose, and devote yourself unreservedly to it. -James Allen

The beauty of purpose is that it evolves over time as you mature and change. Your purpose in college could be making all A’s & graduating with honors, your purpose after college could be landing a job & climbing the corporate ladder to position X, your purpose in your mid thirties could be to find life partner and settle down – nothing is set in stone and purpose is wholly dependent on the person’s mind it sprouts from.

The most important part of purpose

… is simply to have one. To know yours and to truly love the goal you’re aiming for, even if it takes a lot of swings before you hit the ball out of the park.

Your purpose may simply be to be happy – but happiness most often comes from the constant movement towards a set goal (since we as human beings are very much goal orientated creatures).

The purpose of purpose is to motivate us, to make us better and to push us to make a better life & world externally.

Macro & micro purpose

My overall “purpose” at this stage in my life is to build Zirtual into a very big company. It’s my goal, it’s what excites me and it was about the biggest challenge I could tear off for myself considering my lack of startup experience & a business background in college. Whenever I have a free moment I write down my purpose over and over again on a sheet of paper and then I carry those scribblings with my exact goal written all over everywhere I go that day.

This is my macro purpose, but from day to day my micro purpose changes – the purposeful steps that will lead me to my bigger goal.

Micro purposes can be set for the month, week, day or hour. I often set a 30 day micro purpose (this month is find a technical soul mate) then weekly purposes (like get X web pages redesigned) and finally my daily purpose (which could be something as simple as “get over this cold” or “kill it at my 3 meetings”).

Usually I suggest setting a macro purpose first and then breaking down all the micro purposes along the way, micro purposes will support the larger dream and the more you practice chasing your “purpose” on a day-to-day basis the more solidified your overarching goals will become in your head, heart and soul.

So what’s your purpose? Does an idea or image immediately jump into your head?

If not you may want to spend some time mulling over your life, your goals and where you want to be in a month, year or ten years. Only good can come from searching for your purpose & from eventually landing on an outstanding goal.

Some purposeful quotes to send you on your way

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. – Helen Keller

To me, there is only one form of human depravity — the man without a purpose. -Ayn Rand

Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power. -Stephen Covey

Everything–a horse, a vine–is created for some duty…For what task, then, were you yourself created? A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for.  -Marcus Aurelius

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after. –  Henry David Thoreau

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy. –   Og Mandino

  • John Louie Ramos

    Great post! Once again you’ve inspired me! Now, I just have to spend a week or so for soul searching and finding my purpose(s)!

  • Josh

    Great post Maren.  I’ve never listened to the entirety of Earl’s speech, but I will definitely do that now.  I especially like the quote bu Og Mandino.


  • Shekhar Bangaru

    Simply loved it……

  • Melodee Forbes

    LOVE! It reminds me of my new favorite book, The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett

  • Alex Barthe

    I love this post, especially with the inclusion of great quotes I can write down and carry in my pocket. For the moment, I’m carrying a quote by Walt Disney in my jean pocket that says “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”.

    As usual when I read your posts, I’m walking away with at least one action I can take today that will shift my business forward. I love the idea of micro purposes. I have a specific vision for my life/business within the next 3 years but sometimes I need to bounce back to the present moment. Having a micro purpose for the week will allow me to better use my time and stay on track. It also will enable me to manage my day-to-day operational goals a whole lot better. Now I can “check in” with myself consistently and see if I’m on or off purpose.

    Man, I love this blog! Thanks Maren :)

  • Alex Barthe

    I’ve never heard of that book Melodee but I’ll check it out. Thanks for sharing the title and author, it make’s it easier to look up on Amazon.

  • Tim

    Great Post, it can be a struggle day to day to keep your purpose the center of your attention and focus. I like that technique you shared to write down your purpose over and over again. I keep mine taped to my mirror so every morning it is the first thing I read.  Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing Zirtual grow!!

  • Dharmesh

    I loved the quotes. I am a quote person and read them to inspire myself.

  • David William

    The worst is this in between place. I know my purpose is bigger than this, but I am looking for a focus. I want to find something to be crazy passionate about. Until then, I am enjoying the exploration.

  • Maren Kate

    Let me know how it goes!

  • Maren Kate

    It’s so worth while – let me know what you think of it!

  • Maren Kate


  • Maren Kate

    I’m going to check it out too :)

  • Maren Kate

    I love quotes – they keep me going throughout the day.

  • Maren Kate

    Thanks so much :)

  • Maren Kate

    There are a few other posts where I grouped together like 50 or so quotes at once if you search back in older posts :)

  • Maren Kate

    Oh yeah – I feel ya – I had that inbetween for like all of college!