The Purpose of Purpose

Is there a purpose in having a purpose in life? I find myself asking this a lot lately.

I retired eight years ago after spending most of my life in the software business. I had worked my way up to a very senior level and had what many would describe as the perfect career. But, I was very burned out and I had gotten so far away from the actual work of creating software that I felt that I had lost the reason I got into the business in the first place.

When I retired people said: “you’ll be bored” (I’m not), “you’ll miss the office life” (I don’t), “you’re too young” (really?), etc. I am not at all sorry that I retired nor do I have any interest in returning to work. I’m happy with the decision.

When I left, I had many things I wanted to pursue:

  • Coding
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Travel
  • Reading

You’ll notice that coding (or, creating software) was at the top of the list. I really wanted to get back to my roots and create something on my own. I’ve spend the majority of my non-travel time during retirement writing code, and not really focusing on any of the other things on my list. Which gets us back to purpose. Is this my purpose?

During the earlier part of my life my purpose seemed pretty clear: provide for my family and help make sure we had a good life.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little lost and I’m trying to figure out why I’m here and what I can bring to the world. I’m not sure why this is coming up now, but it is. For the past several months this has been gnawing at me.

Is writing software really my purpose? Does that even count as a purpose? When I think about purpose, I think about contribution, creativity, helping others, and improving the world. I’m just not sure how I do those things.

Can creating software do those things? I’m sure it can by focusing on the right things. But if I’m honest with myself, I’m kind of tired of it. My whole adult life has been about software. It’s scary to think about putting it aside, as my entire identify is wrapped up in it, but maybe it’s time.

Can writing be a good purpose? I suppose so. The right words can inspire, comfort, energize, and teach. Those all seem like good things. A while back, I put aside software for several months and started writing. I created a blog to help people get the most out of their software and devices. I really enjoyed doing it, and even had a few followers that told me they were getting a lot out of it. After a time, my software projects called to me and I stopped writing. But, does this sort of writing count as contribution or improving the world? I’m not so sure.

I don’t know what the answer is yet. Right now, I’ve put aside software again and this is my first foray back into writing. I’m hoping that by at least writing down my thoughts and struggles it will help me figure it all out.

4 thoughts on “The Purpose of Purpose

  1. Good to hear from ya Rob. Well, hmmmm. I don’t know if this helps any, but I think that sometimes a person’s purpose can change depending on what “season” of life one is in. That’s to say I don’t think it’s too uncommon to think or feel you know your purpose and then years later feel otherwise.

    In any case, I definitely think writing things down helps with thinking things through more concretely. It’s partly why I like to keep a private journal.

    I’m in a phase of life raising my kids, aiming for the “empty nest” in years to come. I wonder if I will at that time suddenly wonder what my purpose is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the comment, Jason. I think you are right about “season” of life. I’ve been writing in my journal again and that definitely helps. Just the process of thinking through what I’m writing often causes me to see things more clearly.

      I’m sure I’ll get it all figured out. I think part of it is just not worrying about it so much and doing the things I’ve been meaning to do. That my help.

      Anyway, I really appreciate your insights!

      Liked by 2 people

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