The most important thing in a man’s life is his mission. Without your mission, you are nothing.
You are your mission. Period.
When I say mission, I don’t mean your job. Your mission is building an incredible life – good friends, good relationships, spiritual, mental and physical health, fun hobbies, challenges, leisure, intellectual growth, and fun. The idea that a man’s mission is only his job is a modern invention designed to turn people into drones who sacrifice their entire lives for their jobs. By the same token, your job is a critical part of your mission. Just as the idea that a man’s mission is just his job is harmful, there is an equally harmful idea that you are a “slave” to the system if you dedicate yourself to a career and work a 9 to 5 job. A career is often the best way to challenge yourself, and you can live a beautiful and fulfilling life working a 9 to 5, so long as you are not doing it just to make society happy or feed your addictions.
The purpose of life
Since writing was invented, philosophers have tried to figure out what the highest pleasure in life is. Some said honor. Some said physical pleasure (food, sex, etc…). Some said spiritual enlightenment. Some said knowledge.
They are all wrong. The highest pleasure in life for a man or a woman is to follow their mission because following your mission includes within it all of the other pleasures. When I pursue my mission, I learn things, I gain honor, I have fun, and I feel spiritually at peace. Any of those pleasures by themselves are useless. What good is knowledge if you are not doing anything with it? What good is spiritual enlightenment if you’re sitting on top of a mountain by yourself thinking about nothing? What good are physical pleasures if you live like an animal and die of a heart attack at 45?
When I get drunk and fuck a girl on a Friday night, that’s part of my mission, because having fun and getting laid are necessary parts of a man’s life. Men evolved to have sex, and without sex and fun, we will not pursue the other parts of our mission as successfully. To borrow a Nietzschean phrase, it has only been “life-denying” ideologies that have tried to paint sex and fun as somehow bad things. No human emotion is inherently bad by itself - emotions only become bad when they become divorced from the mission as a whole and become the sole focus of one’s life.
What should my mission be?
Nobody can tell what your mission should be. Not me, not your parents, not your girlfriend, and not society. Reality and you are too complex for anybody to tell you what to do with your life. That said, it is smart to look up to successful and intelligent people to help figure out what to do. And here are my opinions as to what your mission should entail.
Challenges. Humans are attracted to transcendence, which I define that which just lies outside our grasp, just outside our knowledge, just outside our abilities. We evolved to seek challenges and overcome them, not to do the same thing over and over again.
Relationships. You need a strong and reliable network of friends and ideally, family and female relationships as well. Humans evolved to be social animals, not to be heartless hermits.
Creativity. Humans evolved to create. Period.
Helping People. Some of you may disagree, but I believe that humans evolved to help each other.
Physical and mental health. This one is obvious.
Aside from these broad strokes, it’s up to you to figure out your mission. The world is too complex and fluid for you to buy into rigid ideas that you should have this job or that job, or impress this or that person, or focus on this or that goal. All of society’s structures are built on sand and could be rendered irrelevant tomorrow. There are men that dedicated their entire lives to a job, only to have job eliminated by an app written by a 17-year old. There were men in the 80s that dedicated their entire lives to being awesome at heavy metal, only to see heavy metal be replaced by EDM. There are men and women who dedicated their entire lives to being a CEO, or a Congressman, or a whatever, and then realized that they were miserable when they actually took that job.
You must be flexible and fluid to constantly readjust your mission based on the realities of the world around you. If you base your entire life’s mission on a job, or achieving some goal, or a woman, what are you going to do when that job or goal or woman is no longer there? Kill yourself?
I know a guy whose dream, ever since he was 8 years old, was to play Major League Baseball and win the World Series. And guess what – he did! He won a World Series in the 90s. But because that was his life’s mission, he had no idea what to do after he retired from baseball. Now he is in his 40s, he lives in a one bedroom apartment, he works a shitty job, and spends all his time creeping on girls at nightclubs. The highlight of his year is a sports convention where people pay him a little money to sign their memorabilia.
He never readjusted his mission.
Society told him that winning a World Series was a worthy goal for a man. Society lied. Winning a World Series is awesome, but it’s not everything. You need a complete, well-balanced life.
And here is the most important part of following your mission: the joy is in the pursuit, not the results. Because really, you can’t control the results. You can be robbed tomorrow and lose everything you have. Your company might go out of business because of something that is totally not your fault. You can make $100 million and be sad because some other guy made a billion dollars. Your wife might turn out to be a cheater or die in a car accident. If you base your happiness on your results, you will always be unhappy. But if you base your happiness on the pursuit, nothing can faze you, because as long as you are alive, you can wake up tomorrow and fight the battle again. If you ask super-successful men what they most long for, many of them say that they secretly wish they could lose everything so they could start from the beginning because they love the process.
When you look at your entire life as your mission, every moment has meaning in the overall context of your life so overcoming every challenge is exhilarating. Cleaning your room is no longer a boring chore; it’s part of your mission and is just as important as pitching in Game 7 of the World Series because you need to have a clean room to be able to focus on baseball. Every bad thing that happens to you is just another challenge to overcome and an opportunity to learn and become an even stronger version of yourself.
What’s the point of this article?
You may ask: “You say that the most important thing in a man’s life is his mission. But if his entire life is his mission, aren’t you saying a tautology – a man’s life is his life?” I am. But I wrote this article to change your mindset. You will be much more successful if you see your life as your mission rather than as a series of unconnected events. You will also be more successful if you cut out distractions, addictions, and people that are not contributing to your mission.
How to pursue your mission
I can’t tell you how to succeed at your mission. But I can give some tips.
Reduce your needs and wants as much as possible. The more addictions, mental baggage, and shitty people in your life you have, the less freedom and mobility you have. If you can live in a one bedroom apartment and eat beans (and I guarantee you can), you can pursue your business or passion. But if you are dependent on having money, having a certain girlfriend, etc…, you limit your options.
You need faith. Focused, sustained, intelligent effort always pays off. The problem is that many people give up when things get tough. If I walk into a McDonald’s I am usually sure that I will get shitty customer service because the workers there hate their jobs. Working at McDonald’s is considered one of the lowest jobs in our society, and most of the people there hate their job, hate their life, and see no hope for the future. They suck at their jobs because they have no faith that working hard at McDonald’s will get them anywhere and they have no faith that there is a plan B they can pursue that gets them where they want to be. Nobody cares about being the best fast food employee, so they don’t do a good job.
If they had faith, however, they would see working at McDonald’s as part of their mission so they would figure out a way to move onto something better. They would either do a great job at McDonald’s and move up in the company, do something on the side, or leverage the people they met at McDonald’s to find something better. Either way, they would have hope that working hard would get them to somewhere better.
Stop thinking about what other people think The biggest obstacle to most men pursuing their mission is their obsession with what others think and their fear of others. This “other” may be specific people (their parents, their girlfriend, their friends) or it can be a more generalized fear (God, society, the cosmic alpha male, or the magical “them”).