Define Yourself By Your Purpose

We should define ourselves by our purpose in life, not by our institutions or academic achievements.  In today’s age, many seem to define themselves with their resume in mind. “I went to this prestigious University” or “I earned a degree from a school with x% acceptance rate.” While academic achievement is worth recognizing, the definition of one’s self should not be so simple. Purpose should be a driving force behind self-fulfillment.

My time at Harvard, Berkeley, and elsewhere was formative, insightful, and educational. Those experiences unveiled a world of biophysics that I fell in love with and, more importantly, led me to understand my purpose: furthering advancements in biotechnology to improve health outcomes for the world and all its inhabitants. 

Finding purpose is the most important goal.  Once you set your goal, then everything becomes a tool to move toward that goal — a chance meeting with someone or a seemingly irrelevant piece of data becomes a missing piece in a puzzle that moves you ever closer to your goal.

Knowledge and achievement are like waves, pushing and pulling you. A wave is not the enemy of a ship; it pushes you forward as much as it may push you back. If you are good at recognizing these waves, you can time them just right, so you surf them, and they push you forward with enormous force.

Some may have the fortune of larger waves through privilege or hard work. Yet, the waves do not define you. The fulfilled life is one where you rode your waves as best you can. Try to live your life with a purpose in mind. Use the tools at your disposal to work towards that purpose. And we all must work together to give everyone their wave. If everyone worked with this mindset, who knows what we could achieve? Who knows the lasting impact a surfer waiting on their wave could make?

This blog is one in a series showcasing writing samples from my autobiography: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease. Available for purchase here.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.