In college, the film, Momento directed by Christopher Nolan, confirmed in my mind that people have to believe they are going somewhere. Becoming something.
Transforming into something. Achieving something. Acting with a purpose that compels them to get up in the morning.
If you are reading this, you are the kind of person who is going somewhere. A mover, a shaker — probably not a candle stick maker, although I have heard that’s still a thing.
The main character, Leonard (Guy Pearce), wakes up every morning suffering from short-term memory loss. He must read the tattoos he has given himself to remember what he was doing and why.
The cool trick of the movie is that the entire thing starts with the last scene and goes backward.
In a similar way, many high performers try to look at the person they want to be and play that life backward to the present to see what they should do next.
Did you catch that? What they should do next, not be next.
Some of us wish we could forget the short term past and start fresh every day. Others wish they hadn’t gotten certain tattoos to wake up to every morning.
No matter. We all wake up with a purpose. And without one (skip down to the next paragraph if you don’t want the spoiler) we make one up, like our man Leonard in the film.
What does this mean for us?
It means we have the very real danger, of looking at what we want to become from the wrong perspective. Future me has a nice house? How do I get a nice house? Future me wants to travel whenever I want? How do I change my life up where I can travel whenever I want? And on and on.
Well, I’m a person with a nice house who travels a lot? Umm, no.
Imagine Leonard waking up and seeing a tattoo that says, “You rock a nice house and like to travel.”
“Yes, I know exactly who I am now. Off to fulfill my purpose!”
The reason that’s super dangerous is because that has nothing to do with identity. It doesn’t answer the question: Who am I? Who do I want to become? Where do I believe I’m going?
To answer those questions, we must change our perspective to the who. What kind of person creates this lifestyle, has these friends, does these habits, treats people this way, uses these words?
What kind of operating system have I created in my brain, in my heart, in my soul that will generate the actions required to become who I want to be?
If we want to go somewhere in life worthy of waking up in the morning, we must start with the deeper questions about who we are instead of what we do.