I recently heard a friend say “I’ve been through a rough couple of weeks… sometimes I feel like just giving up.” His comment really got my attention. The urge to stop pushing forward in the face of adversity is human nature and I bet you’ve felt that way at times too. So what really keeps you going when the going is rough?
I remember a conversation with my mom when I was a teenager. A young man we both knew had shockingly committed suicide… the most extreme form of “giving up.” My mother happens to be a professional therapist who has counseled patients with suicidal thoughts. So I asked her “Why do people commit suicide?”
In so many words she said, “There are many factors, but one common thread I’ve found is they have a lack of purpose, of meaning, in their lives.”
Clarity of purpose is not always so clear, at least not for me. I’ve admired others who seem so clear in their life’s mission, whether it is building a company that employs hundreds of people; fundraising for a non-profit that relieves the pain of others; or dedicating themselves to raising their kids the best they can. You go through struggles in all these examples, but what keeps you going is the great purpose that got you started in the first place.
Maybe you are clear on your purpose and I salute you if you are, but if you don’t have a purpose right now, pick one. Don’t make a big long bucket list – just keep it simple and pick something you can really throw yourself into. And if your purpose includes an element of service, I believe it will bring you the greatest rewards.
Many people evolve through their lives – from serving themselves as a teenager, to serving a spouse and family, to serving their community, to eventually giving back to the world in some way. Your unique talents and contribution are needed by someone… possibly someone you have not even met yet.
I’ll repeat that. Your purpose in life may be related to people you don’t know, who need you and will appreciate what you have to offer. That’s a good reason to keep pushing forward and NOT give up, isn’t it?
I believe that when you find your great purpose, giving up is hard to do.