How I Discovered My Purpose in Life

Welcome back! Please have a seat in the hammock. How have you been since we last talked about discovering what truly makes you happy? Have you had a chance to complete the exercise I shared with you and consider Your Top 5? Yes?

Yes? That’s fantastic. Let’s build on it now. As you may recall from our previous conversation, I believe that finding your happiness formula is a prerequisite for discovering your purpose. Let’s move on to part two of this journey of discovery: discovering your life’s purpose.

Discovering my purpose took some time

While I discovered what truly makes me happy on that fateful day in 2005 in Valencia, Spain, discovering my purpose took some time. In 2007, I began working at a large, well-known corporation. After a few weeks, I began to wonder if this was what my life would be like from then on; the cubicle, the meetings, the effort and my life energy going towards something that had a good cause, but still seemed hollow to me.

I suddenly felt trapped, afraid that my life would pass me by with only minor improvements to the world. I began researching the topic, and someone recommended that I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. That was a watershed moment for me, when I took the first significant step toward discovering my true life purpose.

The book was deceivingly short. It follows the story of a shepherd looking for treasure in Andalucia, Spain, in less than 200 pages. The theme, on the other hand, is quite complex, as it is one big metaphor for discovering your life’s purpose.

I forced myself to read the book at a slower pace than I normally would, giving me time to pause, reflect, and digest what I was reading and what it meant to me.

What I discovered to be my life purpose

I considered the kinds of things that felt like “treasures” to me, and, spoiler alert, neither excel spreadsheets nor cubicles were among them. This is where having My Top 5 list came in handy, as it helped me think about what truly makes me happy.

I figured it out somewhere between reflecting on how important a good meal is and how important it is to build meaningful relationships.

By the end of that reading journey, I realized that my life’s purpose is to save kittens and babies. No, seriously, if I could do anything in life, it would be to help children and animals. Looking back, this made perfect sense, as I’ve always been a sucker for helping children and animals in need and ensuring they have the best possible life.

Living out my life’s purpose at the ripe age of seven

I started bringing homeless kittens to my mother when I was about seven years old and begged her to adopt them. She had to say no because we couldn’t afford to feed a pet. In retrospect, she made the correct decision, because there was a new kitten almost every day due to Lithuania’s large population of stray street cats.

While I was disappointed that I couldn’t adopt all of them, I didn’t give up on the kittens. I began organizing the kids in the neighborhood into a kitten-saving army. We found shelter for new kittens and their mothers in the basements and under the balconies of nearby buildings. We brought old rags to keep them warm and chipped in with food scraps from home.

My friends and I took turns caring for them and protecting them from bullies. My friends even adopted some of the kittens. I didn’t mind the extra work and effort because it was such a rewarding time in my life.

One of the most heartbreaking and moving memories I have from this experience is of a mama cat giving birth to three kittens in the shelter we built for her. We went to check on her and discovered that one of the kittens was not moving. He was a stillbirth. We all cried for a while, and then I suggested that we bury the kitten. We placed him in a shoe box, sneaked into a fenced neighborhood kindergarten yard, and buried him beneath one of the bushes.

In retrospect, I realize that not only did we feel fulfilled doing our part to help our neighborhood cats, but it also helped shape us into more caring and sympathetic adults.

Back to present day

So, what did I do with my newfound insight?

I slept on it, then slept some more. I just couldn’t figure out how to make a decent living doing my life’s work. I also didn’t want to have financial instability because it would be a major source of stress in my life.

That’s when it hit me. I could work in the corporate world for a limited time because I am good at business, save aggressively to achieve financial independence, and then devote my time and effort to saving and improving the lives of kittens and babies.

After all, time is the most valuable commodity I possess. So if I can devote it to a cause that fulfills my life’s purpose, that is a purpose that can fulfill me.

“But that means you’d have been working in corporate for years doing things you don’t want to do!” you may be thinking. The key point that put me at ease: I enjoyed and am good at what I did in the corporate world. It was essential that I wasn’t unhappy.

The same goes for you; if you’re doing something in the short term to secure your financial future in the long run, as long as you enjoy the journey to some extent, it’s fine.

Life’s too short to be unhappy

If you’re unhappy, however, change your short-term solution right away. Life is too short to be unhappy for more than a day, especially in areas over which you have control, such as your preferred employer.

While your soul-searching may lead you to a different purpose in life, I believe that knowing what it is and achieving financial independence will give you the freedom to pursue it. It’s never too late to pause and consider whether you’re living your life’s purpose, or if you even know what it is.

Don’t worry if it takes you longer to discover it. Just pursue the things that you believe may be your purpose. When you arrive and realize that this isn’t it, pause, re-evaluate, and change your life’s path. At the very least, you’ll be pursuing activities that are meaningful to you. A life-long search for your purpose is far more rewarding than not searching at all.

We now have complete freedom to focus on what is truly important to us. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do to help the world. Aside from homeschooling our daughter, I began volunteering to help immigrants learn English.

Get your gear ready. It’s time to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: discovering your life’s purpose.

Do you know what your purpose is? Have you read the book The Alchemist? What tools have you used to help you along the way?


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Thanks for the article!

I have found the when doing something related to one of my life’s purpose for paid work, it seriously detracts from the joy I take in it. Eventually, I can actually grow to dislike it and have changed careers before as a result. This article made me do some serious thinking/meditation on why this happens. I came up with the following: 1) I cant do it my way; how I feel is the best, most efficient, and creative way. I have to follow the “rule book”, put in place by the corporate/gov’t bureaucracy. 2) Doing something related to my purpose isn’t actually doing my purpose. Either I’m only doing a small part of the whole (the part designated to me by the company) or I’m being forced to do other superfluous things, hence wasting life energy. 3) I cant choose who I get to do it for. 4) I am forced to do it on someone else’s schedule and probably more often than I would choose to do it on my own.

All of that being said I am happy I get some semblance of fulfillment from my work, but I don’t want to do it forever!

8 years ago
Reply to  jake

Jake, first of all thank you for reading and sharing your own perspective on the subject! I definitely see your point. I have considered going to work for a non-profit that would align with my purpose, however, I stopped myself for a few reasons. The main one was that I’d have to work longer to reach FI due to a paycut, and while it’d be a for a good cause, I would still have a 9-5 and a cubicle to deal with. The reasons you list are valid points as well, and I could see how having to work versus choosing to spend some time on my life’s purpose are very different approaches. I am glad to hear you get some fulfillment from your work, but I hope you have an FI plan to get your to your freedom. What is your life’s purpose, if you don’t mind sharing, and how are you planning to get a to a point where you can fulfill it?



9 years ago

I’d love to hear more about you would like to better children’s lives!

9 years ago
Reply to  LM

Thanks for asking, LM. This is something I’d like to invest my time in when we reach FI. No concrete plans yet, as they will depend on the circumstances, including where we will live at the time. Some ideas include teaching kids who can’t afford school, whether it be on the subject of math and finances, or how to make a living if they are struggling. All of my corporate consulting experience can be put to good use then. We’ll see what we come up with – all I need is more time to focus on it. I’ll keep the Enchumbao community posted, of course.



Jessica Sivak
Jessica Sivak
9 years ago

Love this:) now I’m curious and want to read the book!

9 years ago
Reply to  Jessica Sivak

It’s a definitely a powerful book, Jessica! Anything that can make you stop and think about life is an experience worth having, and good books are jewels of wisdom. Let me know what you think about it after reading it.


Tanya, L.D.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x