How Money Doesn’t Work Without Purpose

One is the parent of the other

Jane Hwangbo
Nov 28, 2016 · 5 min read
Photo: Mark Basarab

How do you fulfill your Purpose (setting aside for a moment that you may have no idea what yours is)?

You fulfill your Purpose through your life’s work. Your Mission.

For most of us, our Mission takes the form of our career, our job, our side hustles. Your Mission is your personal vehicle to fulfilling your purpose.

If your Purpose is to teach, your Mission might be to become a pastor at your church. Or, you could become a photographer who shows truth to your audience in your work. You could coach a football team. All of these Missions have the possibility of satisfying your Purpose to teach.

Your Purpose is the why of your life, while your Mission is the how.

Some people believe that your Mission does not need to be career-focused, but I disagree. In order to fulfill your Purpose, you need all of your vital resources (time, money, and team) to support you. It’s not easy to do.

In our current economy, we spend at least 8 hours a day working, 8 hours sleeping (ideally), and are left with at most 8 hours a day to eat, exercise, commute and interact with family. Other than sleep, what we do for work is our most intentionally carved-out hours of focus a day. If you are not spending that time building skills for, getting financially ready for, and practicing your Mission, when would you do it? How would you do it?

By taking time away from friends and family? Most of us would become unhappy.

Not sleep? Unsustainable.

Not exercise? Not eat?

We need to be realistic about our time. It is limited on a per-day basis. How we intentionally divide our 24 hours matters a great deal to our satisfaction.

If you intentionally fulfill your Mission in order to reach your Purpose, the way you spend your most valuable resource, time, will be aligned with what you want.

Work will feel easier, even inspired.

The menial tasks will be small but still meaningful to you.

You will have more energy while working.

You will attract less conflict with your colleagues because you will reflect less conflict from within yourself.

How Money Flows Into Mission

Money is one of those intrinsic tools.

Money …will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. — Ayn Rand

Money is a stepping stone that enables you to create a life that is fulfilling and joyful.

If your finances are plaguing you, it’s hard to believe in your mission. On the other hand, if you don’t know what your money is for (before you even have it), you’ll never manage it toward something bigger and more satisfying (your mission). Thus the money will never bring you happiness.

Without strong finances, you tread water on your bigger objectives. Like health, it affects nearly every aspect of your life. Many people try to fulfill their Mission and Purpose without money, but they often fail.

Money can never be the objective. The ’80s taught us about financial freedom, but the idea was incomplete. The highest good of money is to enable you to create something that matters to you more, not just more money.

In order to do this, you need to articulate your Purpose and Mission. It’s tough to do the simplest things like articulating what you want.

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.— Steve Jobs

Once you’ve decided what you want, saving and investing will be easier. You’ll have a worthwhile target. You’ll feel highly motivated.

We don’t talk about it often enough, but creativity is the highest good in finance. What you can create with money. How you can invest in your greatest asset, yourself. The banks and Wall Street don’t know this yet but the sands are clearly shifting beneath their feet.

When you marry your money with a Mission, your work feels vibrant. What you do feels bigger than yourself.

There’s always a way, if you’re committed. — Tony Robbins

Be “stupidly” optimistic

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was born the youngest of five children in a poor Muslim Indian family in 1931. After a cyclone washed away their family’s boat, Kalam watched his father calmly rebuild the boat under great stress, learning hope and perseverance for his life.

When Kalam was asked to sit at the back of the classroom as a child because he was Muslim, his father walked into his school with his Christian and Hindu friends in order to fight the segregation.

One could make the case that none of these actions were “reasonable” given the likelihood of success. However, despair is not an option for the optimistic.

Kalam became India’s eleventh president in 2001. When advising students on how to ignite their minds and live a great life, he said,

Never stop fighting until you arrive at your destined place — that is, the unique you. Have an aim in life, continuously acquire knowledge, work hard, and have perseverance to realise the great life.

Do you aim high enough? Do you hope enough? Do you work persistently and hard?

In order to reach the kind of success that no one can take from you, you must. Your Purpose and Mission are unique to you. If you don’t fight for them, who will?

If you don’t have an answer to the question, “What is your purpose in life?,” carve out the time to think about it.

If you don’t have an idea of what your mission may be, take regular trips out of your comfort zone to figure it out.

If your money is a mess, do the work and straighten out your finances. Find the balance that will help you realize what is most important to you.

You design your life’s map. Create one that has a satisfying destination and leaves a positive imprint in the world through your mission. There is no cap to what you can accomplish, but you must aim stupidly high.

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Jane Hwangbo

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