top of page

Without Purpose, You Will Never Know You Are There

Knowing your purpose is key, and colleges want to know all about it in your application essays

What’s the difference between a map and a compass?

A map diagrams out an entire landscape, showing all destinations, as well as all roads and obstacles to them. It’s what makes step-by-step directions on Google Maps possible. A compass, on the other hand, is less about the result and more about the process. It doesn’t necessarily tell you where you are exactly right now, but it helps you be sure that you are headed in the right direction.

In life, people often look for the straightforward step-by-step magic formula, but we don’t get a map. We can get access to a compass though if we know our purpose. That compass guides us along every major life decision in our personal, academic, and professional lives. By knowing our purpose and starting backwards from our end goal, our compass helps us evaluate every opportunity that comes our way.

Fine-tuning the compass

There’s a lot of advice available everywhere you look, whether it be on the Internet or from those we know personally. But the value is not in the recommendations of those dispensing the advice -- no one knows your situation like you do. Rather it is in the reasoning behind their arguments and how we can use that logic to further fine-tune our compass to help us make better decisions.

For example, many students ask about the advice they receive at their school’s career center. While career center staff are not all bad as some may think, they can definitely be hit or miss. It is always most helpful to seek out peers who are a few steps ahead of you in your trajectory and to pick their brains about how they navigated the process. The key takeaway there is to use their thought processes to generate new ways to evaluate your own situation, not to just blindly follow the game plan they employed.

Learning to think instead of learning what to think benefits us a lot more in the long run. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to look to others for answers, only to help you see things from additional angles as you evaluate. But you always have to be the final decision maker. Developing the ability to think helps fine-tune your compass’ ability to drive you towards your purpose.


You can’t get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Knowing our purpose is our compass that guides our decision-making. Learning how others see the world instead of blindly following their path fine-tunes that compass to help us live out our purpose by helping us make decisions that move us closer to our ultimate goals.

Featured Posts
bottom of page