“How do I figure out my purpose?” This is one of the most common questions I’m asked. In my book, Master Your Code, I write that virtually all of the ancient traditions had a concept for one’s purpose or essential calling. Hinduism refers to it as dharma. The ancient Greeks called it entelechy. Perhaps my favorite is the Japanese term ikigai, which translates to "reason to live." Ikigai is the intersection of four things: what I love to do, what I’m good at, what the world needs, and what I can get paid for. I love the practicality of this framework. It took me a long time to discover ikigai, but it has been life-changing. Over the years, I have continued to reflect on the question of purpose. And I have realized that there is something much more fundamental…something much bigger that transcends a vocational calling. That thing is self-mastery. It is the daily practice of closing the gap between your full potential and where you currently are. As the famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, remarked, “What one can be, one must be.” The ultimate purpose in life, then, is the pursuit of self-actualization. This means waking up each day asking, “What can I do today to move closer to my full potential and to make this a better world.” It means regularly reflecting on your progress. It means being committed to truly understanding yourself. It means taking complete responsibility for your life. Having self-mastery be your driving purpose in life takes the pressure off of finding your dream job or big cause. Paradoxically, I have found that people who commit to self-mastery typically have their calling revealed soon thereafter. In many ways, it is difficult to commit to self-mastery and not be doing the thing you’re meant to be doing. How important is self-mastery in your life? You’re reading this, so I’m guessing it’s at least somewhat important. What would happen if your primary question was, “What can I do today to move closer to my full potential?” What would it look like to make 2020 the year of self-mastery for you?
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