Purpose: Everyday and everywhere


“Ferb, I know what we we’re going to do today” –  my favorite line from any kids show.  For those of you who are not familiar with the show, Phineas and Ferb is a kid’s TV cartoon about two young boys who fill their summer vacation by finding some new, incredibly spectacular project to complete every single day.  One day, they build a roller coaster, the next day a spaceship, and the day after chariots made from rocking horses and lawn mower parts.  Why do I love this kid’s show so much?  Phineas and Ferb start each day with a clear purpose.

“The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life. In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose—a productive purpose . . . . The man who has no purpose, but has to act, acts to destroy others.”  ~ Ayn Rand, Playboy Interview

Every morning, I spend 2 minutes writing my top priorities for the day.  Every week, I articulate my top three goals/priorities for the week.  Every month, I review my long-term goals, access my progress, and re-specify my goals for coming month. Because of this effort, I’m starting to master the habit of living purposefully. I live a life of purposefulness.

Goal checklist

Purposefulness, as I define it is, the systematic identification and pursuit of goals and objectives.  Over the past couple years I have done a lot of self-reflection to discover my central purpose in life, with corresponding long term and short-term goals.  By systematically approaching goal setting, I  regularly review my long-term goals to ensure consistency when I set my short-term goals.  With this process, I ensure the time I spend on activities is consistent with my central purpose.  Furthermore, I maintain a harmony in my life that is quite fulfilling and rewarding.

Done well, living purposefully leads to value-dense living. The goals and objectives chosen should integrate with a hierarchy of values to provide maximal happiness and fulfillment.  Values specify what you want to gain and/or keep.  But in order to gain and/or keep something, you have to identify how you plan on gaining and/or keeping it.  Hence, goals.  To make things value-dense, you should strive to find goals that combine as many values together as possible.  Goals should not be developed in isolation, but should support and build on one another.  For example, I love technology and business so I became an information systems academic.  But I also love studying and applying philosophy, so I apply philosophy to my teaching and research where appropriate.  By setting appropriate goals, I achieve multiple values, thereby living a full, value-dense life.


About John Drake

John Drake is an assistant professor at East Carolina University. While pursing his PhD in management information technology and innovation, John learned the art of high productivity through setting difficult goals to achieve unending success. John is a student of Objectivism, an advocate of Getting Things Done, a parent of three, a husband, a writer, a business owner, a web master, and an all around cool guy. His professional site is at http://professordrake.com

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