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Does Life’s Goal Ever Meet Life’s Purpose?

When I started my executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Southern Methodist University (SMU), I was asked by my one of my MBA professors to describe my life mission in one paragraph.

He said that I need to think about my mission as not a set of career goals and desired professional achievements, but more of things that give my life purpose. I need to look at my life mission as something I hope to achieve during my lifetime; something that provides me with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. I need to ponder on what kind of legacy I wanted to leave behind.

Rearview Mirror

  1. Will people remember me for the things I did or the ones I did not do?
  2. Will I be remembered as a “good human” or “ great professional”?
  3. What are things that I want to do everyday, what drives my passion; in other words, what floats my boat ?

A Paragraph! A Paragraph? Ahem…

How could I sum up all the above in 100-200 words? As I sat down to do this exercise, I realized that the point of this is not to pen down the 100- 200 words, but to really get me to spend an hour (who cares if it was the middle of the night!) thinking about my life’s purpose and goals, and the realization that my goals aren't aligning with my life’s purpose - thus, this article was born.

When anyone asked me for my life’s goals, one of the first things that came to my mind is that I want to break the ceiling in my career and be part of the C-suite in the next 2-3 years. I also think about how I want pour into my 13-yr-old daughter the values, work ethics and the goodness of the world so she grows up to be a good and successful human being. I think about spending quality time with my husband and family. I think about how much I want to give back to the community and the needy so I can fulfill my soul’s purpose in this world.

All the above, the things I want to do and the things I think I should do are driven by my goals.

The real question is, Are these aligned to my life’s purpose? A few may be, but I have never thought of them as two different entities.

One’s life’s purpose should not be merely a means to an end, but rather, the end itself, my professor said in his assignment question.

My life’s purpose should be how I make people feel when I walk into a room. I need to define what I would be driven to do if I had a limited amount of time and focus. I will have to think beyond me and the people around me. I should to be able to serve people in need, not just as a way to fulfill my soul, but something that truly benefits humankind. I need to shed the inhibitions and fear that hold me back from things I love doing. I need to think about how I am going to save this world if I am its only chance. Then and only then will my life’s purpose drive my life’s goals.

A friend of mine who recently left this world way before her time sent me this:

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson”

I think I am ready to write my assignment, and I will not need 100 words for it!

My life’s mission: I want my life’s goal to meet my life’s purpose and for them to hang out in harmony forever!

Saleema Syed

Saleema Syed

VP, ISS Applications

Saleema Syed is VP, ISS Applications at Duo Security. She has over 18 years of experience in the business consultation and tech industry, and focuses on sales, go-to-market strategies, product development and IT transformations for the information security industry. She has also led various community reach programs in the Dallas and Fort Worth area to promote cyber security awareness for children. Saleema has her Instrumentation and Controls Engineering Degree.