Joe De Sena’s new book, The Spartan Way, is a detailed road map to realizing your True North. Pre-order the book now to get a set of free gifts from Joe.
I promise you this: You’re great at something that you absolutely love to do. Unfortunately, you’re probably not doing it every day.
We all have gifts that we never unwrap. Instead, we get locked into the trap of just getting by. We forget to look for what actually inspires us. We never find our purpose, and that holds us back.
If you ever hope to escape the daily grind and find true success, which I define as financial rewards plus a pure love of life, you must refuse to get by. You must keep pushing until you find your purpose, or True North.
Some people innately know who they are and what they’re meant to do. Because of that, they’re laser-focused from moment one. Did Einstein secretly want to open a restaurant? Probably not. Did LeBron James dream to fly planes for a living? Doubtful.
But most of us aren’t so lucky. We don’t have awesome natural talent that points the way, so we have to do a bit of soul searching to find our path. It starts by asking yourself five basic questions:
1. “What did I love to do as a kid?”
I was active all the time—running, jumping, doing yoga with my mom, being physical, and trying to do those things better today than yesterday. That’s why I wasn’t happy on Wall Street, even though I made a ton of money. I needed to get back to what I loved. These days, I feel like a kid again. Oscar Wilde one said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Your mission: Prove him wrong.
2. “What’s my deepest pain?”
Yes, you can find your purpose in pain. A friend of mine lost his younger sister to leukemia when she was 8 years old. He was 11. From that moment on he was never going to be anything but a doctor. So that’s exactly what he did, and every day he fights childhood cancer. He loves waking up and going to work and, because of that, he’s at the top of his field.
3. “What’s my secret fantasy?”
If you’re fantasizing about something, no matter how unrealistic, go with it and see how far it’ll take you. I once did a podcast with British sports promoter Barry Hearn, who told me that his fantasy was to be the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He knew that was unrealistic; he just wasn’t good enough. So he became a boxing promoter, and then a sports promoter, and now he’s chairman of Matchroom Sport, one of the biggest sports promotion companies in the world. And he loves every minute of it.
4. “If I could change one thing in the world, what would that be?”
Okay, this sounds like a Miss America question, but it’s still a great way to find out what’s important in your life. If you grew up poor and you and your siblings went hungry sometimes, maybe you’ll start a company that sells nutritious food inexpensively or work for a nonprofit that feeds the underprivileged. Or maybe you’ll become a schoolteacher in a marginalized neighborhood and help kids make better lives for themselves. If your purpose is changing some aspect of the world for the better, the possibilities are endless.
5. “What makes me tick?”
At the end of the day, finding your purpose is about being the best version of yourself. Think about times in your life when you felt the most joy and fulfillment. Also think about how you react to your life day to day. When does your life drain you and when does it revitalize you? The stuff that gives you energy is probably related to your purpose; the stuff that saps your energy is not.
When you answer these questions honestly, you’ll know your True North and have a clear direction in life. That direction will foster success on every level—work, family, personal fulfillment—because you will always do something you love and something you are innately good at.
That’s the thing about finding your True North. It always leads you in the right direction.