What Drives You To Do What You Do?

Every morning, we wake up and get ready to do some things. Often those things revolve around our job, our business or our hobbies.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, we do them. Why? What drives you to do what you do?

Sometimes it is necessity. Sometimes it is passion. Even curiosity, compulsion or coercion. But when you take a closer look, it becomes obvious that all this is driven by something more abstract, that is unique and special to the human state. And that is…Your Purpose.

What Is Purpose?

Some define it narrowly as being like a goal or target, a point to aim for and reach in whatever you do. A purpose is indeed like that, in one sense – yet different. It is more. It has wider implications. It has higher meaning. It has greater impact.

From a broader perspective, it is the axle around which the wheel of your life revolves – and without which it will spin out of control and meander aimlessly away into a meaningless void.

Because “purpose” is your essential “reason why”. It is your motivating force, your invigorating energy, your inner fuel that fires your engines. Purpose is what drives you to do what you already do – and want to keep doing.

And that’s a good reason for every entrepreneur to introspect from time to time upon what their purpose is. It isn’t always glaringly obvious, but shows up when you take the effort to look for it and give it a clearer shape and form.

How exactly is ‘purpose’ different from other things that are similar – like ‘goals’ and ‘targets’? There are at least four ways your purpose is unique.

Your Purpose Goes Deeper

Let’s take an example that many readers are familiar with – making money. It’s one of the reasons we became entrepreneurs, if not the only (or most important) one. Perhaps you set out with a goal to reach. Was it a million dollars? Or ten? Or a more modest figure that meets all your income needs? Whatever that number was, that was your goal.

Your purpose, however, is the reason why you chose that figure. It could be that you felt it will leave you financially independent or debt free. You may have set that target because you wanted to earn enough to meet all your household needs, or to finance the dreams you had for your children and loved ones. Maybe you calculated what it costs to buy a house, afford college, take an annual vacation, travel around the world…whatever. That deeper ‘why’ is your purpose.

Your Purpose Will Evolve

No matter how high, impossible and unreachable your goals and targets seem today, sooner or later you’ll reach them.

Now let’s say everything went well with your endeavor and your business grew by leaps and bounds to hit that goal in just 5 years. Great news, right? So what do you do next?

Do you retire or sell off your business, and holiday the rest of your life? Sure, some people do that. But many continue – because by then, their purpose has evolved. What started out as merely bringing in enough income to meet your family’s basic needs now grows into wanting to provide them with small luxuries, to save up enough for future security, to extend their advantages and comforts in multiple other ways.

Your purpose is essentially the same – to provide for yourself and your family. But it has also evolved to do it better, on a larger scale, in many new ways.

Your Purpose Will Expand And Extend

When I first started writing, it was more as an escape from becoming a mono-maniac, obsessed with only one facet of my life (as many medical doctors are). I wanted to do something outside of my professional work. So I wrote.

When I realized that I was good at it, that purpose expanded to an idea of writing for money – and using that money to fund a dream project, and help children with congenital heart defects who could not afford treatment. My purpose expanded, and my writing now took on interesting new directions and form.

Years later, I had another ‘Aha’ moment while reading a book by Seth Godin called ‘Linchpin’, when I saw how my writing, and the purpose-driven information business that grew up around it was itself serving to inspire many more people to do something like it with their business and skills! It is this extension of the purpose of my writing that led me to pen this column every week – because it gives me a chance to share this with a large audience that Yaro Starak has grown over years.

Your Purpose Will Endure

A final distinction between a ‘goal’ or a ‘target’ and your deeper ‘purpose’ is that the latter will last longer. Once you’ve reached it, a goal or target becomes moot. No matter how high you set the bar, you will jump over it at some point in your future.

I was reading a fascinating article about Google co-founder Larry Page in FAST COMPANY magazine. Now, by any financial yardstick, we can agree that Page has no monetary reasons to continue to want to work, right? Well, he’s still as passionate as ever for things he wants to accomplish through Google. And many of them have little or nothing to do with ‘search engines’, or even making more money.

Guy Kawasaki’s fascinating book “The Art of the Start” (which I believe every entrepreneur should read at least once), taught me one powerful lesson:

Make Meaning, Not Money.

As a young adult, I had a plaque on my desk where Charlie Brown says: “Don’t forget, money isn’t everything.” In smaller print, beside it, were Lucy’s words: “But don’t forget to make a lot of it before talking such nonsense!” πŸ™‚

My point is that sometimes it takes money to make meaning. But recognizing and being constantly aware of that meaning is important – and in my opinion, even vital – for the success and growth of any enterprise, even profit-centric business ventures.

That’s why I advise my mentorees to always tap into two powerful forces – passion and purpose – in everything they do or plan in their online business. These two have provided me with a competitive edge that has sustained my Internet based efforts for 15 years, in a niche where the average attrition rate over three years is 97% or higher.

Passion is powerful. Purpose is enduring. Together, they can help you move mountains. Or build another Google. And make meaning while you do.

Dr. Mani

About Dr. Mani

Dr.Mani is actively engaged in spreading awareness about congenital heart disease (CHD) and fundraising to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India.

An ardent group of volunteers and donors have embraced this noble purpose that is bigger than any individual or group, and grown it into a global movement that has touched and saved the lives of 87 little children. You can help too. Learn how at http://www.DrMani.com

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  • Great to read your article Dr Mani.

    Just finished reading Awakening the Entrepreneur Within by Michael E Gerber (guy who wrote e-myth) and he said the same thing.

    Your goal for doing whatever you do has to be personal, heavily motivated by an impersonal mission, just like yours is to help under-privileged children have heart surgery.

    Looking forward to reading more of your articles πŸ™‚

    • Michael Gerber has influenced my thinking – a lot. Starting with e-Myth, the concepts he taught created a paradigm shift in how I thought. Previously, it was “time for money” – now, it’s transcended that πŸ™‚

    • Michael Gerber has influenced my thinking – a lot. Starting with e-Myth. Prior to that, I was in “time for money” mode. Now, I’ve transcended that limitation. e-Myth MASTERY is a must-read for every entrepreneur, imho. Thanks, Katey.

    • You are absolutely true, Kattey. Whatever mani has to do, he has to be personal.

  • Motivation is created by either inspiration or desperation.

    Too many people focus on making money and then they forget that they also need to be able to hang on to it through some type of investment.

  • many pursue alternative means (such as a side gig) to break away from something they are so tied up with and dislike (ex. a 9 to 5 job). for others it’s pure interest/passion that drives them to do what they do. there are many other scenarios. for each to be sustainable over a long period of time, a goal or underlying purposes is critical, which I think is where your message is headed.

    been following your work for quite some time now. god bless your soul my friend

    • Thanks, Sunil. That’s exactly the point I’m driving at. Without purpose, everything meanders around without aim or target. With it, all you do is directed and energized in a special way.

  • My work comes from one deeply personal reason – I once wanted to end my life and never want people to get to that low point if eternally possible. Today I adore the everyday thrill of my life and want to encourage others to reach their own natural high. This is as potent and motivating question as I have come across. Brilliant Dr Mani!

    • How amazing that is! It’s true, John, for many of us, what we do is often driven by an intensely personal experience. Bringing it to the foreground, recognizing it for what it is – a driving force – can turbocharge our efforts and keep us going far beyond we otherwise will or can. Good luck with your mission to give the world a perpetual natural high!

  • Its my family and the opportunities I have versus the ones my past generation didn’t have..so I’m looking to be all I can be..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Dr. Mani – You’re such an inspiration to me. I plan to go to medical school and I am working toward building an online income so I am not drowning in debt when I start practicing.

    That way I will be able to focus on doing great things with my life, without worrying about the paycheck.

  • Sad, but true. We dont have time for a self exploring journey anymore. Nicely put doc.

    • Oh, but we do, Ariel… we’ve just forgotten (or not yet realized) how important and essential is to take it – and go on that journey of self-exploration that actually motivates us to do even more than we presently do πŸ™‚

    • I really do not think, that it is sad.

  • This is an excellent article Dr. Mani. Money is not everything in the life. There should be some purpose on what we are doing with interest.

    I am looking forward to read more of your articles.

  • Hi Dr.Mani,

    It’s so true that a person’s life revolves around a purpose, often I come across people who lack that purpose in life and don’t really know where their passion lies. The fact is that if you’re passionate about something, that automatically gives a strong sense of direction. Interesting read. Thanks for sharing!

    Riya Sam
    Training for Entrepreneurs.com

  • Good post Doc! πŸ™‚

    What motivates me is the opportunities that the internet offers… I wasted a lot of time and I want to make money online so I can support my family! πŸ™‚

  • The idea that our purpose evolves is one I think is far too overlooked… and one that many people try to fight. If you purpose doesn’t evolve, eventually it will be fulfilled and you will have no purpose at all anymore… and at that point, why exist at all? (Wow… that got VERY existential VERY quickly.) What I mean is, if your purpose never evolves and expands to cover new ground and encompass new goals, you’re bound to have fulfilled your objectives and be left with nothing on your plate. Living in that state is not just boring… but sad.

    • I agree, Dave. Early on in my career, I played this mind-game of extrapolating my present into the future, to see how I might be some years from today. Each time, from the frame of reference that I then had (purpose, passion etc.), there would be a point beyond which the “Then what?” question hit a brick wall… until I realized that purpose itself evolves, changes, broadens and becomes a sustaining force. That’s why life will never be boring – as long as you tap into your purpose and passion.

  • Great and timely blog post. Having a “reason why” is absolutely essential. For those who have never been sure there is no better time to establish your reason why and get your goals based on that for your future.

  • Sometines it’s hard to tell your real purpose. We bury and cover up.

    • Tell me about it, Peter! πŸ™‚ And sometimes that’s even the smart thing to do! πŸ˜‰

  • I first heard about finding your sole purpose years ago by dan kennedy of the strategic coach. I have thought back on that experience from time to time and have noted how the sole purpose has changed over the years. what drove me a couple years ago is not the same things that drive me today. I have felt a shift in sole purpose and think that it is a fluid state.


  • Hi Dr.Mani, you did it again. Write a great post! I agree with you, In every thing we must have a purpose. Including when we running an online business. Without a Purpose there is no achievement. Looking forward another article.

    • Thanks, Semmy. Purpose matters especially in online business, where much of your time is spent in relative isolation, working on an impersonal machine, with electrons and faceless networks you’ve never seen or met in person. An over-arching purpose can keep you grounded and nurture you through those frustrating and difficult long hours as you build traction and momentum for your mission, be it business or otherwise.

  • I agree with you 100%, Dr. Mani. It’s whats BEYOND the ‘making money’ that really drives someone to take action with INTENTION. I am using internet marketing to generate passive income so I can focus on my dream of having a successful singing career – that’s my “why” or I call it my “hot button”. Having that in my mind fuels me to work hard on my business everyday so that it will eventually work for me. Great article.

    • Love it! Wish you every success with your dream singing career, Auret. I know a few people who might be able to help, if you’d like to discuss it, please email me.

  • If we don’t have passion and purpose, greater productivity won’t help us!!

    • Moonwalks, your comment reminds me of a story in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” where a man climbs up a tree with great difficulty, reaches the top, and discovers he’s in the WRONG forest! πŸ™‚

  • Different people have different purposes and goals, mine is to get money and to feed my family.

  • Dr. Mani good article…for me when you get the meaning…..you are finish..and it is the end of your journey…and on the otherhan..meaning for humanskind is something that one could not define…thank

  • As a child, I always thought that money is the driving force of people. Now as I enter the real world of business, I realize that money is important, but there is also more to life than money. Purpose as you call it. Thanks for the article.

  • Thank you for putting the concepts of purpose and passion into such a beautiful and concise essay, Dr. Mani. You spell it all out in a way that makes it virtually impossible NOT to implement these vital concepts in our daily and professional lives.

    The statement about purpose being enduring could not be more true in this day and age. Look at somebody like Bill Gates, Bono, or Richard Branson. The money they generate from their projects is in constant flux in the world at large, helping people to help themselves live lives of a much higher quality in cases where it would be far more difficult otherwise. Purpose endures to be sure!

    Bravo and I look forward to more!


    • Thanks, Peter. Yes, money gives practical form to purpose – but without it guiding and directing the deployment of assets, the projects overall under-perform their fullest potential. With purpose driving them, they become sublime and massively impactful, reaching far and wide with proportionately greater consequences, like the Gates Foundation is doing.

  • Very inspiring article Dr. Mani as always.! You are a great philosopher too! πŸ™‚ I am sure your fuel for writing such inspiring articles is from extensive reading.. I wish I could write like you πŸ˜€ Just kidding, don’t worry it would never happen πŸ™‚

    • Yes, he is really a big philosopher lol πŸ™‚

    • I guess extensive reading helps. But also, working with little kids born with life-threatening birth defects as a health professional gives one a very unique perspective on things, business, even life itself. πŸ™‚

  • It is very inspiring article Dr. Mani. I think you have read a lot of articles online, How can such creativity comes in your mind? I always love to read your articles.

  • Thanks for sharing this Dr. Mani. Some interesting thoughts on purpose and what drives us. I think money and success are what drives most people, but there are other reasons.

    – Robert

  • After reading this post, I began to look for my real purpose. I was inspired by the article. Thanks Dr. Mani.

  • Very good post. Purpose really is a fundamental thing that drives all of us. If we don’t really have one or have one that is corrupted then everything else that we do can be pointless and counter-productive. I have a strong sense of purpose about what I do and am very mindful of it on a regular basis.

  • “My point is that sometimes it takes money to make meaning.” I agree. I also think one can make meaning without money, it just depends on the person. I feel I am trying to a little bit of both. To be perfectly honest I have been going along the first path but am more interested in trying out the second path as of late.

    – Andrew

  • Passion with a purpose. Definitely a needed combination. πŸ™‚

    I first read about the topic in detail in Zig Ziglar’s book, Better than Good.

    Without both of these ingredients, it’s hard to achieve peak performance.

  • Work on what you enjoy. Turn your hobby into profession. It makes you passionate and tends you do wonders.. Thanks Mani for such a good post.

  • Laide

    Wow! Your post is really deep. Sometimes, what drives me is to make more money. I just try not to allow it to dominate me.

  • this is very important. Thank you Dr. Mani. I absolutely agree that one must investigate deep his/her purpose in things.

  • I loved the article. This article reflects the wisdom in Dr. Mani. Really an eye opener.

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