Find Your Life's Task
"My existence forever changed the moment I embraced my Life's Task" - Robert Greene
By the end of January you will have a paragraph that is your personal mission statement. This will become your north star.
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How does it work?
The course is based on the book The Daily Laws by Robert Greene, the best material I've found on the topic.
Series of prompts: The meat of this course is a series of questions. You will respond with a few sentences or paragraphs. In some cases, I will ask you to explore the question with a person who knows you well, like a trusted parent, elder or a friend who has known you for a while. The questions are based on a brief daily meditation from Daily Laws, which you will read or listen to.
Post your responses: You will post your responses to the course website. You will be able to see the responses from the others in your cohort. Only your colleagues in the course have access to the page.
Learn from others in the course: Seeing others go through the process at the same time as you will help you along as well. You'll get to see how their thinking evolves and it'll help shape your thinking. Pondering their situations helps you ponder your own.
Give and receive feedback: You will be able to give feedback or encouragement in the comments to your colleagues, prompting them to keep going or to think deeper. One of the best ways to understand your own situation is to help someone else with theirs. This is optional, but advised.
Extremely hardcore about deadlines: Every assignment has a strict deadline – midnight. If you miss more than 25% of the assignments, you will be removed from the cohort.
You are signing up to make sure you do this now instead of never. Signing up for the course is a signal to yourself and everyone else in the class that you are serious. You believe it's important enough to prioritize.
NO REFUNDS. If you strike out, you will still get the course materials, but you won't be able to participate in the class.
Courses usually treat you like you are in kindergarten and let you push deadlines, but not this one. We must demand deadlines for anything important in our lives. It's only a few minutes per day.
All the other courses on the internet are for people who want lax timelines, do-at-your-own pace. If it's time to get it done, you've come to the right place.
Final project: You will write a few sentences that will summarize, as clearly as you can, your life's task. Don't worry -- the process will get you there.
Duration: Jan 1 to Feb 1, 2023
Time commitment: 5 to 60 minutes per day (your choice). You are allowed to miss eight of the 31 assignments.
$34 US // $45 CA
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Some people have no need for such things as "life tasks".
That's lucky for them, but you may yearn for focus in your life...
...for some kind of task, some kind of way to make yourself useful, ideally one that kind of suits you, maybe even one that you are uniquely capable of, a way to contribute, a mission.
Maybe you've been wanting this for years. You haven't been able to find a solid direction, even after trying many things.
A common dilemma
Back in my grandparents' day, you got up with the rooster and pitched hay. If you didn't like mending fences, too bad.
All previous people in history have relied heavily on tradition to provide train tracks. But the world has changed.
If you are reading this, it has become your task to find your task. It is up to you to figure it out. And we are going to figure it out, right here in this course.
You have to choose your own focus.
Don't be an ass
There once was a donkey
The donkey looked one way and there was the most delicious hay he had ever seen.
Then he looked the other way and, guess what, it was the most crystal clear water.
The donkey could not decide which way to go.
Sadly, he died of both hunger and thirst.
Don't be an ass.
You can do the other thing later. You have time in your life to have several chapters, but you can't do everything at once. You must choose. This course is going to help you choose.
Have the courage to be normal
We have been sold the idea that we can be anything we want, that we deserve this. Like many novel well-intentioned ideas that sound great in theory, it's not working very well in practice for a lot of people. It's a nice idea -- too bad it's incompatible with our psychology.
"Reach for the stars" was the slogan written large on a banner at my high school grad. A better message for millennials would have been "Have the courage to be normal".
But, it is true that we are each unique. The combination of your personality, body and life experience mean that you can't help but contribute in a unique way. You actually are special. It's normal to be special. It is a fundamental truth about the system of biological life on Earth.
You may wish to reach for the stars and you may literally make it to another star. But, you will still be just one human in the gigantic story of the cosmos. No one, no matter how amazing they become, will be remembered for long. It is our job to have the courage to be normal in this regard. Even the president of the United States is just a teeny tiny thread in the fabric of everything.
So we are looking for a small way to contribute, to be a part of the whole story. We are also looking for a way to enjoy our time here, the one-time chance to be alive and breathing. What a shame to not enjoy our time here. Meaningful work is essential to all of this.
What we're going to do
We're going to find out:
- What you care about.
- What you are good at.
- What you enjoy doing.
- Where you already have skills and traction.
Then, we're going to think creatively and practically about how all these puzzle pieces come together in the real world.
By the end of January you will be much more clear on your direction in life. The final assignment is to briefly summarize your life's purpose. It sounds like a lofty goal, but every one who makes it to the end of the course will come away with written succinct summary of their life's task.
More than ever, we desperately need to find focus and calm. Join us.
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I don't have time to decide. I'll make a decision later.
The worst state to be in is decision purgatory. Let's try to figure out how you can make a decision right now, one way or the other, in a couple of minutes.
I want to find direction in my life but how do I know this course isn't just a waste of time?
This is a risk. Everyone's time is precious. It may be the most precious resource.
If you are convinced that it is worthwhile to try to find more focus in your life, you are going to have to do some exploration of some kind to solve this puzzle. You are going to have to take some risks with your time, of course.
Let me ask you something. Do you have a better idea on how you might use 5 minutes per day over January to get you closer to a clear vision for what you're really up to with your work? If you know of something that you know for sure will work, you should do that. But, if you've been pondering this for a while and are out of ideas, this course is for you. I invite you to put a few minutes per day on the line and join us.
I won't actually discover my life's task. I've tried many things already. Why would this work?
The more things you've already tried, the further ahead you are, the more puzzle pieces you're already aware of. The more life experience, the more pondering, the better. Let's solve the puzzle together.
I'm curious if you've gone through a formal process before, or have you mostly done scatter-shot, thinking here-and-there.
Maybe you've read books to try to figure your life out, but we've all figured out a long time ago that self-help books feel great and hopeful as we're reading them, but then for some reason they don't really move us forward as much as we thought. Great for dopamine though. It's when we take some action on the ideas that we get the real power and change. That's what we're doing here.
When you've been active in exploring, you'll also find that your sub-conscious will really start to churn during the rest of your day. The breakthrough can come in the shower or pop into your head the moment you wake up in the morning. But you have to prime the pump.
There's also a major benefit in taking a set amount of time where this is your focus. Again, it allows your subconscious to really ponder this and make connections. Every day we'll take your mind in a new direction. Gradually the pieces will come together.
There's no such thing as a life's task for me. It's a fool's errand!
If you are reading this, there must be part of you that is still hoping that there's a task for you, a little mission you can be on, some kind of life path you can really embrace. So you aren't 100% sure it's a fool's errand, but let's say the odds are low.
What by doing this course, you end up discovering that there really is no such mission and this is just a fool's errand. In this case you'll be a big step ahead of where you are now. You could move on to another strategy for living. Would it be a waste of time to spend a few minutes per day over January to become even more sure that it's a fool's errand? Then you can move on in your life and find a new strategy. Until then, in some ways you are held captive by a dream that you mostly don't think will come true. You must investigate fully to be free of this dream. You must know. You must find out. Then you can move on.
It won't work and I'll be embarrassed for trying.
No one needs to know you are doing this. You can use a pseudonym. Call yourself Ishmael or Isabel.
You can compress the work into 5 minutes per day if you really need to go unnoticed. You can do it from a parking lot. It's really a small amount of trying. If it doesn't work, hey, you gave it a try.
I'm embarrassed that I even think I need a mission... what am I, a special snowflake?
Again, no one needs to know you are doing this, so the only person you need to explain this to is yourself. What if you explained it to yourself like this:
First of all, this is your life, not anyone else's. Your life is the most precious thing you have. If it matters to you how you live it, that makes sense. That's what everyone is doing, trying to do their best. If you care, that's good.
This isn't a narcissistic exercise. In previous times, culture would give people a path to be on. You were born into it. Now, we were born into a lot more choice, with much weaker cultural or religious norms, for better or worse. Now we must decide for yourself how to live.
What if by having a mission, you could contribute to a better world? There's a reason there are so variation in the gene pool. Differences in people's abilities and interests are important to a family, a village or the entire species.
But also: What if you are a special snowflake? So? This isn't some grandiose thing. A life's task is not necessarily grandiose. Even if you achieve a life task of being the first person on Mars, you, on a long enough timespan, will not be amazing enough to even be remembered. So make your mission as big or small as you want.
Most people's missions are, in some way, just something that people have been doing for hundreds or thousands of years.
So stop being so narcissistic in your worries you are narcissistic.
What if it's not the right thing to do to chase a "purpose"? What if it's actually counter-productive and better to just have the courage to be normal? Will more obsession about this actually lead to more misery?
One of the things that we discover is that most people's missions are actually pretty normal sounding. That can actually be very freeing.
We do need to have the courage to be normal. Even the people at the top of their field must do this. They often struggle with feelings of needing to be even bigger, even greater. You can be the President of the United States or the Richest Man in the World... and then what? Is that enough? For many people it is not. What if they became Supreme Leader of Earth, is that enough? Even that person will eventually return to dust and be forgotten rather quickly.
Just ask any kid who the leader of your country was in 1980. They won't know. Mostly, that person has been forgotten.
We all have to accept that we are just a human in a long string of humans in a vast universe. Having a mission or a purpose is not about being important. It's about playing a small role, giving your life some focus. This satisfies a psychological need for us. We need tasks. Even simple work can be satisfying once you feel it is your task, the way you fit in the long story of humanity.
This course won't work and I'll feel even more demoralized because I will have tried another thing that was supposed to work and it didn't.
This is fair enough. Most self-improvement stuff is like this. This course is specifically to get us out of a common "self-improvement" loop. Maybe you're like this: You read a book on how to live, you get excited, but then you don't enact it in your life. This course exists to force us to really process and live the ideas.
But there is a risk you will come away feeling more discourage.
What if you told yourself a different story about that? The reality is that you are in a situation in life where you have to try. If you felt really settled about what you were doing in life, particularly work, you wouldn't be reading this.
You have two options for what to do about this unsettled feeling. You could give up and try to stop thinking about direction in life. Or, you could keep working at it. The in-between state is the worse: Thinking that maybe you could have some direction but not working at it. We must willingly, voluntarily explore.
Even failure is progress since you have learned something did not work
Here's a reframe for your consideration: You can be proud for trying. Even if you try and fail at every single thing from now until the end of your life, on your death bed you can congratulate yourself and be glad that you did the best you could. You will never be sorry for trying your best.
I'm afraid to share my deep feelings with strangers in some random group.
This makes sense. There are a few things you may wish to try:
- Use a pseudonym. There's no name required. You can call yourself Macaroni.
- Anything you want to keep a secret, you can. You can write your responses to the prompts privately and then post an edited one... or just check in and say you did the exercise and not share any of the content. The most important thing is you did the exercise.
My friends might see my deep feelings if they happen to be in this group
If you've been in other courses on the platform and are worried about this, let me know and I can add put your account into "pseudonymous" mode for this course. You'll be able to log in as normal, but your posts you make in this group will show up under a pseudonym with no link to your primary username.
Even if I use a pseudonym, it would be possible to trace this back to me.
You're going to need to change some details to throw them off and that's okay. The main thing is that you do the exercise honestly in private, writing candidly. Then, whatever you are able to share to the group is appreciated, but you are welcome to hold back as much as you want.
I'm too busy right now.
One way to go is to put this off until a more convenient time. However, finding a solid direction to which to orient your life is a thing that will affect every other thing. Often we are trying to go in so many directions at once. This is madness. This is often the cause of our busy-ness to begin with: lack of focus, lack of knowledge of what really matters.
I would also ask this: Do you expect to be busy at some point in the future? If so, now is the perfect chance to exercise having the right priorities. We're always going to have busy times, but we also always need to be able to make time for long-term planning, even in the busy times. You can compress your time spent on this course to 5 minutes per day. If you don't have 5 minutes per day, you've really got a problem and it's all the more reason to find your focus. It's time to reclaim some sanity. And for that, yesterday was a good time, but today is second best. Tomorrow is worse. There will never be a better time.
What if I don't have an internet connection some of the time?
If you're going to be off the grid for part of the course, that's okay. No timing is perfect timing, so join the course anyway. Send me a message before you go off grid and I'll set things up so that you can submit later than the due dates. I've lived off-the-grid for months on end and really support unplugging or being in the wilderness. In fact, it can be the perfect place to do these exercises.
What if I forget to post?
You're allowed to miss 8 times out of 32. That's 25% of the time. If you actually did your homework on time but forgot to add it to the group, let me know and I'll add it for you manually.
But also... I'm not going to let you forget. With your permission, I am going to personally remind you. "Be the nag you wish to see in the world".
What if I pay my money and then I strike out of the group?
No refunds! But I won't let you strike out.
When you sign up, you are signaling to yourself and the group that you are serious. That this can't wait any longer. It is my job to hear you on that and create the circumstances where you will actually follow through. Putting money on the line is one way of helping that.
We'll need the vibe of people who are committed. Part of the magic of the system is you are in a cohort of people who are committed to following through.
With your advanced permission, I will remind you by text if I notice you have been AWOL.
If you do strike out, you'll still have access to the course materials, but you won't be in the workgroup anymore.
Will I feel stupid paying $150 when I could do this for free? I could just read the book?
This is just my opinion, but I think anything you can do to get this part of your life settled is worth it. We just can't have years or decades going by with you feeling lost. No way. The chances of someone completing the course without having some kind of investment is somewhat low. If it matters to you, do something to make it harder to just flunk out.
Plus, it supports my work creating this course and the platform which I coded from scratch so I will be very happy.
I should be able to just do this myself. I can just get the book and do it on my own.
You might. That's a valid path. But if you really need to make sure it happens, join the course.
I already have the book Daily Laws. I just need to do it on my own.
Definitely... but if you're anything like me, you've had the book for a while. Did you go through a formal process of following the daily prompts? Or did you read it cover-to-cover and moved on? Either way, if you haven't slowly gone through the prompts, join us. Let's do it.
I'm too old for finding my life purpose. I should just give up. I should have done this when I was younger.
There are tons of examples of people finding their stride much later in life. In some ways, the older you are, the more interesting this all is because it is unusual for older people to become more inspired and active rather than less.
Even if you are at life's Final Act, it's not over. People need examples of people like you who feel like they are starting later.
I'm paying $150 to some random guy on the internet. Are you even a real person?
I could easily be a perogie or any sort of dumpling.
I'm not the kind of person who *does* support groups.
I get that. I'm not either, but as a life-long autodidact and self-employed person and generally a person who does all his project on his own, I have learned how helpful it is to do things in groups, for anything where I tend to spin my wheels. If there's a place people tend to spin their wheels it's in situations like this. I mean, if you're like me, the reality is that you've had your chance to do it on your own and for some reason it hasn't worked. Join the course! Why not!
There's no way I'll find my task in just one month. I've been thinking about this for years.
That could be. What if you got just a bit closer in a month? That's not a bad outcome for a few minutes of focus per day. That's a good worst-case scenario.
And... on the other hand, what if it worked? What if it was the best thing you ever did?
There are a few things that might be different between this course and your other tries:
- You have deadlines. You aren't just reading. You must respond. It's common for people to come across good questions and maybe even write them down. But it's not enough to just ask questions. must try to answer them. That's where the meat is. So often we'll jot down a question, but never answer it. In this course we will answer them. That's the magic.
- You will have classmates. I was amazed at how much reading other people's responses helped me see my own thinking clearly. By seeing other people work through similar things, to struggle with it, and maybe even have ideas for them you actually get insight into your own struggle too. It's so hard to see ourselves accurately. This is why we spin our wheels for years or decades. We can't see the way out.
- The Robert Greene material is really great.
- It's fun.
I'm a slow reader. I won't keep up.
I could never keep up with the class in high school when there were assigned novels. I would always fall behind and do tests without having read the book, so I know what that's like.
This isn't like that. In this course, the reading will only take you a few minutes even if you are a very slow reader. Most of the time will actually be in writing down your reflections or having conversations with the people who might be able to help you recall your childhood, etc.
I guarantee you will be able to keep up with the reading even if you are a very slow reader.
You can use an audiobook if you want. You'll see the chapter range from 1 minute to 2.5 minutes, on 1x speed.
So, some people will be able to read them in 30 seconds, other people will be 5 minutes.
What is the point of having classmates?
To make sure it happens now instead of just on the to-do list for some phantom "spare time" in the future.
You can learn from what other people write. Thinking through other people's situations can really help you understand your own. This helps you get out of your head.
Camaraderie. It helps to have companions for the journey. Why not.
I'm busy some days... can I catch up on my homework on my days off or my weekends?
You're allowed to miss 8 times out of the 32. The submission window ends at midnight every day, so we hope you can submit. If not, like I say, you are allowed to miss some of the deadlines and you are free to catch up on your own. But, so often we procrastinate and don't actually put in the time on the weekend when we hope, so in this course we will try to work a little every day. It's much better to do a 5-minute job now than to wait for the perfect time. You can always revisit a prompt that you already did later. "Better done than perfect."
Little bits add up.
The other thing is we want our subconscious to chew on this every night if possible. The best way to prime that pump is to do a bit of conscious, focused work on it. It only takes 5 to 15 minutes or so. If you don't have 5 minutes, that's all the more reason you need to do this course ASAP because you need to find your direction if you are so busy and meanwhile not sure what your life's task is.
I have another excuse.
When I was in Grade 1, I had a classmate who, no matter what the teacher told him about how his behavior was bad, he would just respond by saying "So".
"Everette, you are disrupting the class!" So.
You: "But my excuse is ___." So.
Let's do it. Money-back guarantee. No questions asked.
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