I came across Mark Manson’s post on the 7 Strange Questions that Help You Find Your Life Purpose, and I thought he had some interesting things to say. I also thought it would be interesting for me to write down my answers to these questions, and I will be able to look back on these answers in the future to see if I agree or not.
Mark starts off saying that most people have no fricking clue what their ‘life purpose’ is, and all the baggage that comes along with this phrase paralyses people. A better question to ask is “What can I do with my time that is important?”
This is a more manageable, more motivating question because we know how to discover what is important to us – we go out and do them. Mark wrote the following (fun and interesting!) questions to help us figure out for ourselves what is most important to us, and what can add more meaning to our lives.
1. What’s Your Favourite Flavour of Shit Sandwich and Does It Come with an Olive?
Mark, quite astutely, says:
Everything sucks, some of the time.Mark Manson
This is true of all career paths – you just have to pick the path with the shit that you are willing to tolerate. Mark further lists some things that might be unpleasant: failure, rejection, humiliation, long 80-hour workweeks, inconsistent workloads, putting off starting a family, etc.
For me, I am quite happy to put in long hours, and I think I can deal with inconsistent workloads. I’m not sure I can deal with humiliation (bye bye show biz), but I reckon I can deal with some rejection and some failure.
As for putting off starting a family, I would love to, but my biological clock is ticking down… Freezing eggs is expensive, but it seems like it will be the only way for me to get where I want to with my career. It’s still a little ways off now, but it’s something I will have to think about.
2. What is True About You Today that would Make Your 8-Year-Old Self Cry?
The purpose of this question is to make you realise what your childhood passions/dreams were.
I used to be an avid artist – I recently discovered a folder full of my artworks I made when I was aged 6-10. I stopped making (non-prescribed) art in secondary school, and haven’t really got back to it since.
Now, I just do little drawings here and there, but I’m always comparing my work to the work on Instagram, or artists on YouTube, or my artist friends. It seems the best I do now is just copy – I don’t seem to create any original art anymore.
3. What Makes You Forget to Eat and Poop?
Writing. Self-improvement. Reading. All of these put me in the flow state, and I lose track of time.
Self-improvement for me comes in many forms. I like to improve my craft, for example playing violin or table tennis. I like to write, because it makes me reflect and improve myself. I also like to watch certain YouTubers that help me think about different topics, give me information, or help me improve my style or time management.
Reading is just a lovely activity to do – a really engrossing book can make me lose all track of time. Hearing others’ stories is something I enjoy.
4. How Can You Better Embarrass Yourself?
The idea is that before you are good at something, you must suck at it. And you mustn’t let what other people think of you during that sucking time put you off. As Mark put it,
“Chances are, you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you”Mark Manson
I don’t have many major life decisions I want to make right now, so I don’t think this really applies to me yet. When the time comes though, I will do my best to embrace embarrassment, and try to view “feeling foolish as part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful”.
For the time being, I’m going to continue learning new skills (like knitting, CAD, coding, etc) even though the products of my learning may be laughable.
5. How Are You Going to Save the World?
The world has a LOT of problems right now – as I’m sure you’re all aware. I had made up my mind about this a while ago: my first priority is to do my bit to stop climate change.
This involves doing individual choices (like switching off the lights, stopping the tap when I’m brushing my teeth, reusing plastic bags, recycling where I can, buying second-hand) but also involves collective action to change the resource-guzzling system that we’ve all grown up in and taken for granted in the West.
6. Gun to Your Head, If You Had to Leave the House All Day, Every Day, Where Would You Go and What Would You Do?
(If you’re going to be pedantic about it – you get to go back to the house and sleep, and you’re not allowed to just sit in a coffee shop and browse Facebook or use any other useless websites/TV or play video games)
I would carry on studying for my degree. I’d also continue my hobbies (chess, violin, football, badminton, table tennis, maybe even piano). Beyond this, I would learn new skills (like new coding languages) and also start lobbying governments and councils to reduce carbon emissions and petroleum use. I would also volunteer to help tutor disadvantaged kids in science and maths. There are so many things I would do!
7. If You Knew You Were Going to Die One Year From Today, What Would You Do and How Would You Want to be Remembered?
For me, death is the ultimate motivator. There are so many things I want to do before I die, and I’m just itching to start them. However, I think I don’t fully have the skills/knowledge yet to truly do what I would like to do (invent/contribute to something that helps lower carbon emissions) so it would be a shame if I had to die one year from today.
In that case, I would drop everything and start to lobby governments, politicians and businesses to be more environmentally friendly. I’d try and make collective action happen, because there’s only so much that individual action can do.
I don’t really care about being remembered by a lot of people, only by the people I care about – and I’d like to be remembered as a loving girl who made the most of what she had.
What would be your answers to these 7 questions? Let me know in the comments below, or feel free to write your own post and link it here, I’d love to read it!