Though not general, here’s a typical journey towards knowing one’s purpose.
In school, you spend your days in a laboratory, a sampling of the world where mistakes are encouraged and are not as costly. This is where you learn statements like “God is love,” “Jesus saves,” but never quite grasp what they really mean. As soon as you graduate, you excitedly venture into the world of work, and live and decide independently. You feel all grownup by earning your keep, and enjoying it, too. But as you pour all your energy and resources on pleasure, you wonder why you still come home to an empty, lonely house. You ask, what do I live for?
An apologist once said that one loses out on his purpose, and therefore becomes the saddest person on earth, if he enjoys pleasure without limit. Always, this happens if prayer, if relationship with God is sidetracked. So one may take on crucial life decisions – like marriage or state of life, acquisition, etc. – but still with muddled intentions.
In one of Brother Bo’s old talks, he shares that to ensure peace and happiness, we must make decisions out of purpose, and not out of pleasure. For example, buying a car so our children can conveniently go to school is a decision made out of purpose; deliberately buying a car that’s better than the neighbor’s is a decision made out of pleasure.
How do we know that it is out of good purpose? Well, we are all creatures of love, and decisions made of out of good purpose are decisions made out of love. Our purpose is to love in whatever form it may be.