Define a genuine path unclouded by ambition for status and wealth
I’m the kind of person who struggles to find clarity in work that has little to no meaning to me. It’s almost as if my happiness depends on the type of work that I do on a daily basis. But it’s deeper than that. The task can be something I wouldn’t naturally enjoy, but if it connects to a macro-level life motive, I will throw my all against it without hesitation.
I am against the corny notion of living a meaningful life by following one’s passion. It’s surface-level and misleading. Some, like myself, understand it to be black and white, while others are capable of subjecting themselves to years of mindless work that leaves them empty and downtrodden.
Entrepreneurship is a self-crafted career. It is not proficient to the extent that there are clear paths laid out by educational institutions and companies that give you a timeline to reach specific levels of status and earnings. On the contrary, entrepreneurship is ambiguous without any clear direction. It is almost as if you were put into the thickest of jungles with hundreds of paths before you, and you still choose to pick up a machete to hack your way toward success.
Uncertainty and risk are the names of the game once you choose to pledge allegiance to originality rather than familiarity. Only by understanding yourself will you live up to your highest potential future self.
More than any other profession, entrepreneurs need to get better at finding a genuine path, unclouded by ambition for status and wealth.
This is how I found a meaningful purpose.
The Inner Compass
Over the past years, I have admittedly become obsessed with self-development and personal growth. I have consumed so many books, articles, and mental models I started to gain more clarity over who I was and what I could offer this world. But all of this still didn’t help me get up in the morning and execute with increasing momentum. I lacked a clear purpose, which was misdirected from a murky meaning.
Genuine meaning translates into a clear direction, which in turn forms confidence. It is almost like a compass that tells you which bearing to steer towards. Especially when you find yourself lost and confused.
I have found something like the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek to be insanely useful. The core message of this model is that we operate at our most authentic selves from the inside out, not the outside in.
Sadly it is missing a vital ingredient: goals. It doesn’t help translate a core purpose into clear, actionable steps. The Golden Circle touches on Meaning, not Purpose. But isn’t this the same? Not quite. There is a difference:
- Meaning is most similar to the ancient Greek word Logos. It directly translates to having a clear intention or reason for life.
- Purpose is most similar to the ancient Greek word Telos. It directly translates to having a final cause or an ultimate objective or aim.
Whereas the Golden Circle helps you define a clear meaning, it does not give you real purpose. This is where North Star thinking comes in. It is used in startup culture as a long-term predictive measurement of success. More simply put, meaning is where you are coming from, and purpose is where you are going.
Here is a model to illustrate how they work together:
Building your compass
Meaning is probably the toughest to define for yourself, but I urge you to begin with the Golden Circle. Even though it might feel unintuitive to define the intangible first, you cannot find a long-term purpose without understanding your life’s meaning.
After you’ve created your Golden Circle from the inside out, it’s time to tackle the North Star. It will be easier if you ask yourself a simple question: What will my life be like if it exceeded all my expectations? … Goals can be:
- Self » aspirational traits, avoidable traits & habits
- Other » family, friendships & loved ones.
- Career » wealth, network & status.
- Private » health, hobbies & assets.
Try to outline 2–3 bullet points for each quarter of the Nort Star. Add any elements you like. The whole compass should resonate deeply with you and stay relevant to you and you alone.
Any form of resonance sparks an innate urge to act readily.
Aim for this feeling of flow when you evolve and revisit iterations of your compass. Then consider sharing it with the world. I have mine public.
Once you align your meaning with your purpose from a mindset of an ideal future self, you will point your compass in the right direction and quickly become who you want to be. Now, tomorrow and every day hereafter.
The Bootstrappers Compass isn’t unique to independent entrepreneurs. It can be applied to everyone’s personal life. I have personally wrestled for hours to define my compass and know how difficult defining this can be. To that end, I built CREATOR OS, a Notion-based guide to help you with this process of self-discovery. Sometimes all we need is a guiding hand.
Every human struggles with who they are and who they want to be.
Author: Julian Paul