How Short-Term Purpose Has Saved My Life

Much is said about living a life of purpose. But the assumption is always a long-term purpose, such as…

  • Your career
  • Your health
  • Your values
  • Your family
  • Your spirituality

It’s better to have a purpose than not, no doubt, but it’s arguably even more important to continually specify your short-term purpose. Life changes rapidly, as 2020 has taught us, and its turbulence can often shatter our fragile plans. And if your identity and purpose is tied to specific long-term outcomes, you may feel lost when the storms of life invariably come.

Short-term purpose has saved me countless times. My life is nothing like I expected, but I love it and I’m happy only because I’ve continually focused on what I can do right now. Here are four examples:

I expected to get married about a decade ago…

I live alone with two meowskis.

If I ever find a woman this cute, I’ll consider marriage.

2. I expected to get a normal job…

I’m an author and entrepreneur now.

I found my book in a bookstore in Yokohama, Japan. It was of the most incredible moments of my life.

3. I never expected an acquaintance to plagiarize my book and leverage his following to make millions from it…

That hurt. A lot. The most of any of these. But it inspired me to create even better content (including Elastic Habits) when I was getting a little bit complacent. I’ve ever started inventing physical products, which has been super cool!

I… invent stuff now? This is the Gold Kit for habit tracking sold on

4. The virus ruined my consistent and important gym habit overnight…

I’ve been building my dream garage gym since then. I’ll sometimes work out twice a day now. It’s a work in progress as you can see, but it’s already my favorite place to be!

Whether or not you like my life path and choices doesn’t matter any more than my opinion of your choices. I’m really happy where I’m at because I’ve continually renewed my short-term purpose, especially when things didn’t go as planned.

My life isn’t perfect and yeah, I’d possibly be happier if some things happened differently. But I don’t know that for sure. Marriage often ends in painful divorce. Normal jobs are actually excruciating to me as I’m fiercely independent. And I miss playing competitive basketball SO MUCH, but my home gym is an overall better situation for my fitness goals.

Some of the most disruptive setbacks in my life and expectations have directly lead to my greatest blessings. I believe that the more you value and pursue short-term objectives, the better you can overcome any obstacle and find new ways to happiness and success.

If you are dead set on certain paths in life, you’ll be disappointed often. That’s the truth, and I think it comes from not adjusting your short-term purpose to suit your goals/values and your current situation.

Persistence is important, yes, but flexibility is even more important. You can reach many of the goals you want to reach, but the path will rarely look as you expected.

Philosophically speaking, you can be a nihilist and still succeed with this. Nihilists believe that life is meaningless. They have no purpose by definition. But they can still create short-term purpose to engage their minds and live their lives as best as they can.

But the reverse does not work. You can have the best value system and most incredible goals with aspirations for the greatest legacy ever. But if you don’t continually renew the short-term strategies to move that direction, you’ll be more miserable than the nihilist.

It’s good to have long-term purpose. It’s good to have values. But never ever forget the supreme importance of defining your purpose of this very moment, day, week, and month. You can’t possibly refresh it too often. No plane flies without a runway.

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