Have you ever noticed one of those “Top 10 Jobs in Demand” lists that suggest picking a career among those choices based solely on the basis that there may be lots of job opening in that field? Or some people pick a job because they think it will automatically lead to riches, or that it will confer a certain level of prestige, or it’s expected of them.

Basically these concepts are telling you to pick a job for one, or all, of 4 reasons:

  1. Availability
  2. Desire for riches
  3. Ego
  4. Tradition/obligation

So why are these horrible things to base occupational decisions on?

Because none of them take into account what will make you personally fulfilled and happy. There are dog trainers who are millionaires and doctor’s who struggle just to make their school loan payments each month. But if you enjoy and are fulfilled with the type of work you do, then it doesn’t matter what you do.

Money naturally follows people who follow their passions.  Essentially, dollars follow value and vision.  That doesn’t guarantee that everyone who is passionate will become a millionaire or billionaire, but they are more likely to enjoy wealth as a by-product of doing something they’re good at and enjoy. It also means that no matter what, they’ll live a happier and more fulfilled life, and that’s worth all the money in the world.

But lets go back and review the four reasons why people typically choose a line of work. The first reason is availability or accessibility. These are careers/occupational choices based off of the knowledge that this particular job is in demand, so it should be easy to find work, and there is hypothetically greater job security. Or these are the default jobs that just sort of “happen” to people because they don’t have anything better to do. If a person has no idea what they want to do, then they figure it doesn’t really matter what they do. They might base their future career on arbitrary criteria, such as whichever major in college requires the least amount of math, or on whichever job happens to be available at the moment they’re out looking. Or perhaps some school counselor gave you a “career aptitude test” that told you that you should be a florist, so there you go, because hey, that computer program knows you better than you know yourself, right? Even though you’re not all that into flower design… Sometimes these default jobs turn into highly successful and rewarding careers, but not usually.

The second common reason for why people select certain careers over others is good old green money, or the desire for riches. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have lots of money. Having lots of money is a great way to open up the avenues of possibility in your life. However, if money is your primary focus in selecting a job path, then you’re missing out on having lots of money AND happiness. If you want to be a lawyer primarily because you think all lawyers get rich, then you’ll be sorely disappointed upon law school graduation to find that many lawyers, in fact, struggle to pay their bills, have a hard time getting a decent job, hate what they do, and quite often end up never even using their law degree. Even if you do get rich, it’s not worth the trade-off of working in a profession that you don’t find satisfying and enjoyable. Period.

The third reason is ego. From a societal perspective, depending on your circle of friends and family, certain jobs hold more “prestige” than others. You might want to be a social worker and help children with developmental disabilities, but you know your friends going to MIT to be rocket scientists and roboticists would be less than impressed with your non-technical choice of careers. These occupational decisions are based on the fact that people will think highly of you, which will surely feed your ego and raise your self-esteem, right? Maybe, but if you’re not thrilled by the idea of calibrating metal density, or painstakingly teaching a bucket of metal a knock-knock joke, then maybe being a rocket scientist or roboticist isn’t for you—no matter how impressed your friends may be.

The fourth reason is tradition or a sense of obligation. Perhaps your parents instilled in you the idea that medical school was your ticket to respect and success, even though the thought of being around diseased people makes you sick. You’ll toughen up eventually, right? Maybe, but if you weren’t drawn to the job in the first place, chances are you’ll never truly be inspired by it. Mom and dad will get over your choice to not be a doctor, but if you choose a path that you’re not interested in solely to please them, then you’re the one who’s going to be severely disappointed in yourself. Or it’s a matter of tradition, for example, if a person’s grandpa sold life insurance, and then his or her dad sold life insurance, then some people (subtlety or not so subtlety) get the idea that they ought to sell life insurance too. They’re comfortable with it. They grew up with it. They’ve already got the oh-so-important “connections”. It’s time to pick up the torch, right? Maybe, if you’re okay with the possibly of getting burned by a lifetime of boredom and dissatisfaction. Selling life insurance may have been the perfect job for your grandpa, but it doesn’t mean it’s the perfect job for you.

The good news is that there is a wonderful alternative.

It’s called Soul Purpose, which is a term for the unique combination of inborn abilities, talents and passions that identifies you as an individual, and provides a natural direction for your most fulfilling life. It is the purpose of your “soul” and your “sole” (or greatest) purpose for being on the Earth.  Some people refer to this as your “life mission”. Although it might not be in golfing, whatever your Soul Purpose is, you are the “Tiger Woods” of your own personal Soul Purpose. You are the Mozart of your Soul Purpose.  You are the Mother Teresa of your Soul Purpose.  You are the Einstein of your Soul Purpose. Whether you accept it or not, everyone has a divine purpose for being on this Earth. You are not an accident and you are really, really unique at something.

You Soul Purpose came fully formed at birth. You naturally have certain inclinations, passions, desires, talents, strengths, tendencies and proclivities in a combination that not one single other person has on this planet. You can capitalize on that fact, and here’s why you should: Living your own personal Soul Purpose is your greatest possible contribution to your own life and to the entire world.

Unfortunately, our society begins a process of cultural programming process soon after childhood that basically says, “You can’t really live your dreams. It was cute that you thought you could accomplish___________. But now it’s time to be realistic.” That false cultural program can make it difficult to live your Soul Purpose.  It’s go to school.  Get good grades.  Get a job that makes you as much money as you can. Marry someone attractive. Go have 2.2 kids.  And if you do all that, you’re guaranteed a happy life. There’s nothing wrong with any those things, in fact those are all great things, but the problem with the programming is that it doesn’t give you the whole story. You can have all of these things (except for the .2 parts of a kid thing, try to round up or down) AND contribute to the world in a way that is so enthralling to you, that it doesn’t even seem like work because it’s what you’d still find satisfaction in doing every day even if money didn’t exist. But not only that, by doing something that you enjoy, research shows that you’re actually more likely to become a millionaire than if you slave away at something you’re not passionate about in a vain effort to get rich.

There was an interesting longitudinal study that began back in 1960 with 1500 people who represented a cross-section of America. Financial expert, Srully Blotnick, Ph.D and a team of researchers began a 20 year study to see who would become rich, how they did it, and if there were any common variables. Over the next two decades they lost about a third of their sample size (which is pretty normal) to deaths, moves etc. Two decades later out of the 1,057 people still in the study they had 83 who had become millionaires.

They found that the very biggest common denominator among the 83 millionaires was that every single one of them found their work to be “absorbing, involving and enthralling” as compared to the non-millionaires.

Not all of the millionaires thought of themselves as someone who absolutely “loved” their job, and all of them had some aspects of their work that they enjoyed less than other aspects. However, much more so than the non-millionaires, all of them were able to easily become engrossed in their job, or experience what is sometimes called “flow”, or where you get so wrapped up in a project that time passes without you being aware of it.

They also found 5 other common denominators among the 83 millionaires that were less critical, but still noteworthy.

  1. Persistence. Through good times and bad, the future millionaires chose to stick with their passion. Because their end goal wasn’t to become rich, they were able to just focus on just doing their work well. They did not look for schemes to make them rich without any effort.
  2. Patience. None of them were waiting restlessly for “riches to arrive” in fact, most of them weren’t even aware of how rich they had become because they didn’t think about money as much to begin with.
  3. Humble. They were willing to change “diapers”. Those who eventually became rich didn’t think that anything connected to their work was “beneath them”. Although they enjoyed what they were doing more than most people, they were willing to also to do the “dirty work” when needed. They saw both the nobler and the pettier aspects of their jobs as worthwhile.
  4. Non-competitive. This finding surprised the researchers most of all. They had assumed the most competitive would become the wealthiest, but in fact those that become the wealthiest were increasingly non-competitive as time went by. They were interested in what others around them were doing, but were not blindly influenced by it. They chose to follow their own path.
  5. Investment activities were minimal. They got rich through their work, not through lucky stocks. The wealthiest, contrary to what the researchers guessed, spent the least time investing and thinking about their investments. Interestingly, most of them did not make significant amounts of money from investments, UNLESS they were investing in something they had some control over like their own personal development, or business idea.

So now here’s the big question: How do you discover your Soul Purpose?

First, you have to recognize that it exists.  How do you know that your Soul Purpose exists?  Have you ever wondered how the things that you love came to be so?  How is it that you love the things you love?  Somebody reading this article loves carpentry.  Somebody loves fashion.  Somebody loves technology.  Somebody loves growing plants.  Everybody loves something among all these incredibly different amazing diversities, and fortunately, not everybody loves the same things.

Lets just call it the “divinity of diversity”.  It’s one of the greatest evidences of God in the universe.  If you have a society like ours where there are so many diverse interests, can you imagine if everyone lived their own individual Soul Purpose?  What we would have is a blissful, harmonious society. So, why doesn’t everyone just live his or her Soul Purpose? Well… people don’t know the concept exists and therefore have a blind-spot  in regard to their potential.  Others just don’t know how to apply it.

But your Soul Purpose is something you already are.  You don’t have to want it.  It’s already there inside of you fully existing. So it really doesn’t matter if living your Soul Purpose is not the norm, and that your friends think you’re nuts for wanting to start a video game store when they were certain that you would go into politics. So what if Soul Purpose is not the norm! You can be a pioneer. For too long, we’ve all been taught that rich people and spiritual people are two different things. But there is a connecting link between spiritual wealth and material wealth: Living your Soul Purpose. You are here for a reason.  You are magnificent beyond your belief, and certainly beyond your current assessment.

Keep this in mind: There is no one like you on the entire planet, and that makes you completely irreplaceable on this Earth. Discover and live your passion, and you will have discovered your very soul and your Soul Purpose. What could be better than that? Exactly.

[Ed. Note: Garrett Gunderson is a financial advocate and the author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity. www.garrettbgunderson.com]



  1. Erica Lane on August 6, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Garrett, I love the idea of “divinity of diversity” and how we don’t have to go looking for our Soul Purpose. I believe that if more people have the courage to live, work and grow a business from their Soul Purpose then we will be a richer and happier society.

  2. Gayle E Smith on August 7, 2012 at 1:09 am

    This is wonderful……..we should all be teaching our children and grandchildren to think this way. Maybe then, we might get closer to having a blissful, harmonious society.

    • Jeff Paro on August 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      I agree. Garrett B. has a wonderful way of teaching so people just 'get it'. It would be cool to enlighten our children about topics such as this when they are young.

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