Did you inherit your sense of purpose from others? Or have you cultivated a purpose in your life that is uniquely your own? Here’s a very simple litmus test to figure it out and a way to bring more purpose to your life.

There are many ways to formulate a sense of purpose in your life. There are top-down ways and bottom-up ways to do it. I think most people don’t consciously do either. When folks actually do end up working with purpose, it tends to be from the top-down. They might say: what would my religion want me to do? Or, what would my extended family want me to do?

To some extent, all of us inherit some aspects of our purpose. Tweet This Quote

One thing to notice about this type of default, though, is that these types of purpose originate in another person’s framework. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, per se. You might work with a different person’s framework and be extremely excited and feel called to live it fully because it feels right. To some extent, all of us inherit some aspects of our purpose. But I think really defining your purpose in life requires examining our inherited frameworks in order to question how much it truly speaks to us, instead of simply living it by default.

In my case, I’m out here building products and inventing various technologies, but at times I’ll notice an underlying thought: “Hey, you want/need to make money.” Why is that? Why is that in there? After all, while I wouldn’t consider myself fabulously rich, I’ve been relatively fortunate to work in an industry that has done well. Why do I even have a money-related drive?

If I investigate it a level deeper, I remember my parents were immigrants and worked long hours just to survive. Money became a fixture, and when there wasn’t enough, there was strife. So even in a situation where I know on a logical level if I didn’t work, I could support myself for a couple of years, I still have this impulse: “No—I’ve got to do it; I’ve got to keep pushing.”

When folks actually do end up working with purpose, it tends to be from the top-down. Tweet This Quote

So that’s a personal example of an inherited element of purpose. It motivates me, I live it, but I didn’t choose it. So the really interesting process is looking at it and asking, “Do I continue to agree with it or not?” Many of us never examine our inherited elements of purpose, so it shapes their lives unconsciously. Or, if they are aware of it, they’re afraid to investigate or question it with any depth. The result is that they never challenge it, and they miss out on a chance to make the purpose their own.

This gives you a sense of what it looks like to work with top-down purpose you’ve inherited from family, religion, country, or really any ideas of purpose we have inherited from others.

However, there is a bottom-up formula, which is what I call the A, B, and C Levels of Energy. I’ve referenced this formula before in an article about managing energy, not time. Here’s a quick way for you to use this formula to create more purpose in your life:

  • Level A is energizing. You finish an activity with even more energy than you started. For me, doing a painting, writing a song or working on an interesting technological problem makes me feel that way. I do it and make progress and it’s “Yes!” It’s amazing. It’s buzzing. You are excited, continue thinking about it, and want to build off it. That’s Level A.
  • Level B is neutral. Imagine being in the ‘Zone Out’ zone. You are sitting on the couch with a beer, kicking back, watching some TV, relaxing. That’s a situation that’s not giving you a ton of energy, so you don’t leave the couch totally energized, but it doesn’t drain you much, either.
  • Level C is draining. Level C types of activities are where every time that you do them, you feel drained. Often times, you feel it even within the first 15 minutes—the sense of drudgery and dread. You leave these activities drained, exhausted. This sounds simple, but often, we so deeply habitualize the things we do that we can’t see ourselves clearly. There’s a simple litmus test to figure out how our day’s going; how our life is going.

To define our purpose in life is to examine our inherited frameworks and question how much it truly speaks to us. Tweet This Quote

If you look at your relationship to Level B activities, how do you feel about sitting on the couch, watching some TV? How do you feel about surfing aimlessly on the Web? These are Level B activities. If you get home from work and can’t wait to do those things, then you are probably living mostly a Level C life. It feels better to go back to neutral than it does to keep engaging in what’s draining.

Similarly, if your life is filled with more Level A activities, your relationship to Level B activities is, “This is a freaking waste of time. I can’t believe I just watched three sitcoms in a row. Two hours have just gone by. That’s nuts. I’ve got to stop.”

I don’t think anyone’s life becomes completely Level A activities or even Level C activities. Although admittedly, some people have really tough lives. But in all cases, your relationship to Level B activities gives you that quick sense of whether you are relatively well aligned or not.

Many of us never examine our inherited elements of purpose, so it shapes our lives unconsciously. Tweet This Quote

The more you have a sense that you’re getting into better alignment, the more you can begin asking yourself, “What exactly is it that I’m doing throughout the day that puts me at Level A?” Then, you can start breaking things down and understanding what the intrinsic motivations are that make your life meaningful. That is categorically different from the top-down purpose. I feel like nobody can define this other than you. It’s something that can only be discovered through a conscious process that includes a dash of mindfulness and honesty.

So my overall sense of how somebody develops a purpose in life is to bring a conscious process to bottom-up meaning—by using A, B, C evaluation or other reflection techniques.

As for the top-down stuff that you inherit (because you can’t help but inherit some things), you can look at them and say, “Here is some of the purpose I’ve inherited from how my country works. Here is some of the purpose I’ve inherited from how my family works. Here’s some of the purpose I’ve inherited from how the Silicon Valley technology culture works.” Be conscious about it so you know exactly what you’ve inherited, and then ask yourself the questions, “Do I want to keep these ideas or not? Do I want to consciously depart from it, or do I want to consciously say I’m into that?” This is in contrast to just chugging along and not knowing twenty years from now why you did what you did.

This is just one technique of many that can help you establish a sense of purpose in your life. What I like about it is how quickly the litmus test cuts through ambiguity and rationalizations. Try it out for yourself, and let me know how it turns out for you—or share a technique that’s worked well for you.

This post originally published in January 2014. It has been updated and republished to inspire further conversation.

About the author

Tom Chi

Tom Chi

Tom is the CPO and Head of X at Factory building teams that can build anything in the world. He is an entrepreneur, teacher, rapid prototyping enthusiast and part of the founding team of Google X.

Leave a Comment


  • Before reading this I had never considered this “top-down” approach to my personal decisions, but I think it is important to become cognizant of how our society/family/various other external factors influence our life choices. It’s definitely something to think about.

  • Thanks Tom for such a straightforward way to better understand our motivations. This makes so much sense! But you are so right, we often don’t do this consciously. Great article!

  • It really struck me when I read about this article. I am sure that many of us feel this way. People are trying their best to impress others and most often than not, we forget our own purpose in life. Society shapes our lives unconsciously and it became a great influence in our life. This is such a great article to make us become more “conscious” about these little things that we often ignore. Thank you for sharing, Tom!

  • Thanks everyone. I wrote this partially because I don’t like it when things are too vague to be useful. Sometimes people throw around phrases like: “follow your bliss” as the way to find meaning in life, but I’ve seen that work for some people and be totally confusing to others. I like frameworks that are easy to follow and don’t assume which answer is right from you before you even begin — really glad you all are finding some benefit from them!

  • I have strong feeling after I read this article. It is obviously sometimes people will forget the purpose why they are doing it. I usually set up a schedule what I want to do and when I will do it, but I never think what the purpose for me to do it. I just get used to it as part of my life. Furthermore, sometimes I am thinking whether I really want to run the family business or not. The most important reason for me to do it is that my parents want me to run the business.Other than that, I cannot find any other purpose or motivation for me to do it.

  • Tom this was a really great read. It’s an interesting look at categorizing our daily activities to find out which level of motivation and happiness we’re at. I really like how anything can fit into each level, which further helps each of us to find our own individual and unique purpose in life.

  • Thanks for this interesting article! I’ve heard so many other motivators that result from the “top-down” approach so it’s refreshing to read about a “bottom-up” approach. I will definitely try this out and hopefully find a sense of balance!

  • Your A B C evaluation is pretty interesting. I never thought of my activities in that kind of way. I love watching TV show so much that I feel that it is Level A activity. I believe that others have different opinions depends whether they enjoy doing this certain activity or not. As for whether my daily routine will give me a sense of purpose in my life, I think my routine of watching TV show will not help me at all. However that does not mean I do not have any purpose of life. I have it
    and keep working on it as I interact with the people around me. There are many
    life situations that happening around me as well that give me a sense of
    purpose in my own life.

  • This was an interesting read! It really made me analyze the way i live my life today which I think alot of us don’t do very often because we get caught up with just living the life we are so use to. The bottom-up segments were actually really intriguing. I’m definitely hovering in the level B area.

  • The concept of managing energy and not time is really interesting to me. I’ve always told myself that in order to accomplish everything I want to do I need to allocate my time efficiently. However you make a great point with the time a person spends, it can be spent on different levels of energy. This turned the way I think of “time” allocation upside-down. I will definitely switch my thinking up and try this out.

  • This is such an interesting post; I never thought about my purpose in life in those top-down or bottom-up terms but they do make complete sense. I do have a sense of purpose to my family and my religion, however, it is interesting to evaluate how you feel about levels A, B, and C and how those evaluate your purpose. Very interesting point of view!

  • This was a very interesting post about a tough topic. I like that Tom outlined a concrete and specific way of figuring out your purpose in life. I think that is something we all want to do, but sometimes don’t know where to start. His examples of how you feel about B level activities was very helpful!

  • That’s why I love this post so much. It’s so helpful & practical. The A,B,C energy test is so easy do! It’s so easy to monitor what activities are draining & which are energizing. And then focus on bringing more energizing energy into your life. Thanks Tom!

  • I like the idea how you distinguish the three ways, bottom-up formula, to create more purpose in life. I feel like many things I do in this life are always one of those levels. I like the level B idea when everything is neutral, it does not really drain your energy nor giving you a ton of energy.

  • I like this idea of the bottom up idea, but I think it’s so hard for people to explore different options that energize them. I know that as a student who is just about done with college, I take any job I can get to make money and try to financially support myself. I don’t have the experience or freedom to pick and choose to do what energizes me. I wish I did! Perhaps I will have that ability to experiment when I am a little older in my life.
    It is important that entrepreneurs have this passion and known purpose so they can drive their ideas forward. Without that drive, there would be much less innovation.

  • This is a mind-opening post and it breaks down daily basic life into three levels. They are ought to be accumulated because it’s true that our life can never be in just only one level. By knowing this three levels, it’s easier for us to know where we’re are and adjust ourselves.

  • This gives me a better understanding about self-motivation and also self-exploration. And as others, I also find the A,B,C test really easy to do. Thank you for the useful, practical and straightforward article.

  • Nice article! I have used the “top-down” approach from as long as I can remember. I often asked myself that sort of question, “what will my father want me to do?” or “what will my friends want me to do”?. I have lived my whole life with this approach that I just get used to it. However at times I do felt that my life was really governed by others judgement. Your bottom up level formula is interesting and really make sense. Thanks for making me to stop and evaluate my sense of purpose in life.

  • Agreed with the notion of the bottom-up formula. The question now is distinguishing Level A activities. Sometimes, as with school, I feel I’ve got no control over how excited I get. I don’t consider going to class and doing assignments a Level A activity, but I persist because I’m aware of the benefits. At this point in my life, it seems I can’t do much to add purpose to these activities, but when choosing what to do after, I can easily see how pursuing Level A activities will be more fulfilling.

  • I really enjoyed reading about your bottom-up formula. I believe the A, B, and C measures of energy are partially dependent on your physical location and where you are in life (maturity). These levels are going to vary from a student in high school, to a student in college, to a full-time/part-time worker. Thank you for giving us a new perspective. I am excited to immediately put into effect the way I distribute my energy!

  • I think that’s what is so empowering about Tom’s “formula”, you can begin to experiment with outside activities (outside of school/work,etc) right now and start to figure out what are the things that give you energy versus what drains you. Some people get really excited after writing something (having a break-through – programming or designing something) on a computer. Other people have that surge in energy when they are meeting with other people, having breakthroughs in conversations, working in a group to overcome a problem, being ‘out in the field’. I think being able to determine which activities are most energizing & rewarding for you is so valuable for long-term fulfillment in your work.

  • I tried to evaluate my life based on your test. I fell into the example that you made in the post. I have nothing to do in my life except go to school and then go back home. I spent most of my time on the internet and smartphone. Thanks to your post that I realized I was having a bad habit. I have to find some activities that will make my life become more useful and look for the purpose of living. Hope that I will make some improvement in the future so that I can have a meaningful life.

  • Nice article. My philosophy of life is if what I am doing is not drawing me closer to success, I am definitely falling behind. So whenever I do something, I start with the end in mind and analyze the things I did to see if it will benefit me in the end (of my goals), if now, I’ll try to drop the activities before it becomes a daily habitual routine.

  • I have reached a point in my life where my day-to-day activities are so repetitive that I have lost interest in many things I used to do “for fun.” Working every day and going to school on my days off has lost its excitement, so this article could not have come at a better time. I always think, “I just want one day off so I can sit around and watch TV all day.” However, when these rare days off do come around I find myself feeling useless and wanting another activity. Now I understand that this is because I am used to level A activities so levels B and C just do not suffice anymore.

  • Reading this article has made me very excited to wrap up my undergraduate studies and pursue a career that energizes me. It is easy to get wrapped up in the mundane education structure: go to class, retain information until a test, get through your homework, repeat. It is easy to lose sight of the end-goal. Thanks to this, I feel refocused and ambitious.

  • Great ideas all around! This is truly reminiscent of the culture of technology that I love so much and that idea of permanent beta. I’ve followed this philosophy as a fellow technology buff for so many years and it’s never let me down. I notice so often the other more rigid mindsets that don’t allow growth and change and evolution and it seems to create so many problems in return. You have to be in touch with your own mind to know how you operate and, in turn, what can be improved, but it is well worth the struggle disappointment that comes in the process to be able to find real solutions to the problems you face in life. I think the perfect term for this is the original definition of the term hacking used way back in MIT before the PC revolution. The idea that we should always be tinkering and perfecting the way we do things through playful discovery with the building blocks of our existence – be it code, chores, or our own thoughts and feelings.

  • This technique can be a helpful tool for college students (like myself) in figuring out what they want to do as a career. As a senior (9 more weeks until graduation!), I am asking myself questions like “do I really want to do this for the remainder of my life?” As these questions start rolling out, I get overwhelmed and nervous for my future. This Level A-B-C technique is a great, structured tool to help me evaluate my career goals.

  • I really enjoyed learning the bottom-up
    approach. This article has made me think about my everyday activities that
    energize and drain me. I definitely think I have a good mixture of both, but
    reading this has me eager to graduate college and seek more things that
    energize and create purpose in my life.

  • I was thinking the same thing Sara! As soon as I read the Level A,B,C technique I started to think about what this meant in the context of my career.Too often college students go into a C level career hoping to one day love it for the money. We need to start our emergence into the world on the right level – level A.

  • The article is a testament to the importance of living
    a contemplative life so that you are open to thoughts and ideas that are your
    own. Relying on others framework for
    your life could lead to disappointments and missed opportunities. Living a purpose-driven life is admirable and
    it should be your own.

  • This post is absolutely great Tom! My parents are immigrants as well and they have stressed finding a high paying job as being very important. However, I have come to realize this isn’t what I want in life and have started to explore other possibilities.I haven’t thought about my purpose in terms of your ABC techniques but I will definitely try it out and see what happens. Thanks!

  • This post has a very interesting perspective of evaluating activities, but probably once people realize what activities make them excited and motivated (e.g. level A), they will instantly know that they enjoy the activities unconsciously and consciously. In other words, people like to do easily motivate people. Most likely, they will understand why they are doing the activities. It seems like most activity examples were only free time activities. I’d more interested in finding a way to motivate myself. I want to make the activities, which are less meaningful, more meaningful (e.g. How to move my level C activities (often do homework or work) up to level A activities.)

  • Since it is my last year in U.S., I want my daily life to be
    more productive and memorable. I start make notes of what I plan to do during a
    specific day or even change my bad habits. I don’t want to regret of what I
    have been through. Therefore, I sometimes reflect and wonder to myself what I
    can do to be a better person.

  • Thank you Tom for the great post! I sometimes feel that I do not know the purpose of life and even I feel that my life has no purpose because I keep doing what I was asked to do. I will try your level A,B,C method and I hope it works

  • This article reminded me of a talk a former mentor of mine
    gave about internal verses external motivations. It is always good to be reminded of this simple, yet important concept. For most, internal motivations are a much stronger driving force when set out trying to complete a task.

    Although why is that? Shouldn’t we all be working towards be equally as excited about doing something for someone else as for ourselves? I know this is put quite simply, but it is something to think about.

  • I like your post Tom. The A,B,C method makes sense and I think it is easily applicable in the real life. After reading your post, it made me think what is my purpose of life and do I inherit it from others. Great post!

  • I really like this post because it taught me to
    think beyond my boundaries. Before I read this post, I rarely try to think in
    other perspective rather than me. I feel like I never realize that family,
    country, and culture really influence me to shape the way I think. The A, B, C
    technique is really a great concept to lead me as a guidance or principle to
    live to the fullest.

  • I find the article very helpful and inspirational. I got
    asked so many times about my plan for the future and often find myself stuck in
    answering such a simple question – a plan for myself. The level A,B,C
    method really helps me to evaluate my activities and push me to think about how
    to improve the quality of my life and what I really want to do.

  • It is really a good thought to find our purpose for life. Anyone of us will be motivated and pleased when we are doing what we want to do. However, I think it is easy to be stuck in what we are interested in and not able to keep our life going. Many of people’s interests (at least mine) is not enough for them to survive. “What is your purpose of life” is a very philosophical question for me, and I think answers vary from person to person.

  • It was interesting that as I was reading this article, I started to tell myself that formulate my sense of purpose from the top-down. Having similar situations, where my parents emigrated from the Philippines, and worked similar long hours just to survive. Money is that fixture, where I realize if I don’t work my funds and resources to live will dry up. This is what keeps me going.

    Continuing on to your bottom-up formula, I found that looking at my relationship to Level B activities really tells me something about the activities I do in life. I don’t know if it is because I am in my last quarter of my undergraduate degree or if it is because I have been working at the same retail job since I was 16. But these activities are more in the Level C type of energy, because sometimes I do look forward to surfing the Internet aimlessly, catching up on blogs, tech news, or even sneaker related topics. So I don’t know if I will see more activities in the Level A category of energy after graduation, but I definitely agree with my colleague @tloo10:disqus , where she mentioned it definitely matters where you are in life in terms of maturity.

    Thanks for the post!

  • What’s so good about getting a sense of purpose in life when you don’t even have money to support it? I have discovered my sense of purpose long time ago. My best wish is to be able to stay at home, cut off all communications to others and be at peace while enjoy reading books and watching movies in solitude. Those are my level A activities. Unless my parents are incredibly rich (which they don’t), I still have to get outside, find a job and earn some living.

  • Managing energy, not time is very important in planning out a schedule. It helps to use these different levels for taking inventory of the kind of activities in your life.

  • Outlining perspective this way has allowed me to understand a new perspective on what success can mean. Continually thinking about where you allocate your time and energy will be useful and beneficial.

  • In an effort to put manage my energy more effectively, this post has prompted me to try a personal experiment. I’m going to fill my time with as many “Type A” activities as possible for 30 days (based on the idea that it takes day 30 days to form a habit) and note how this adjusts my use of time, energy and general attitude.

  • Nice article, its so easy to measure energize level using this formula. My relationship with my work is probably somewhere between level B and level C, but that is the work that I am good at.

  • I totally agree with what you are saying. I feel that so many students do not consider an “energizing” major that actually motivates them to succeed in classes.

  • Great article, thanks for sharing Tom! We’re lucky that we live in a time where a greater number of people are privileged enough to be able to read this article and be able to action some of what you speak about. That said, there are a huge number of people around the world who are not in a position to choose how their time is spent – they’re still in a behavioural circle of survival. Do you have any insights into how we can help lift up people in that situation?

  • Great article, thanks for sharing Tom!

    We’re lucky that we live in a time where a greater number of people are privileged enough to be able to read this article and be able to action some of what you speak about. Love the idea of managing energy instead of time.

    That said, there are a huge number of people around the world who are not in a position to choose how their time is spent – they’re still in a behavioural circle of survival.

    Do you have any insights into how we can help lift up people in that situation?

  • Great way to start living your life to the fullest! I think it’s amazing how many people live everyday of their lives doing something that drains them and that they hate. Life is too short to waist half of it doing something you dislike just to be “successful”. If you find something your passionate about, odds are, you will become successful because you love what you do and wake up everyday excited to go to work. I need to work on this in my life and believe a lot of others need to as well! Start LIVING people!
    Great article Tom!

  • Thank you Tom for your insightful articles. You are right! All my life, I’ve been follow my inherited purpose unconciously. I always ask myself if it is what I like and it is a right path for me to follow. Thanks to your A,B,C techniques, I know where I am at on the scale. However, the remaining question of should I keep my inherited purpose is still there.There are so many things at stake, and sometimes I cannot simply say yes or no just because of my personal feeling.

  • This just hit the nail on the head on what’s been bothering me about my job! I’ve got to make sure I have a growing number of “A” activities and limit the C ones! This energy to couch comparison is such a great way to gauge whether I am on track to feeling good about what I do or not. Thanks for sharing.

  • This article was really insightful and brilliantly written. I like the system of A, B, and C activities especially well. I would say that my life has aspects of each activity. I generally begin my day with A activities and finish up with B activities to wind down before bed. About once or twice a week, I come across a C activity and it is rather difficult, but it is part of the routine nonetheless. I believe all three types of activities are essential to a happy life. If you sit on the couch all day just watching TV, you get nothing done and you don’t feel good. However, if you spend your entire time on painstaking work and tedious chores, you never have time to relax and enjoy life. I believe that once you find the perfect balance, you will begin to find purpose in your life and, in turn, happiness.

  • Tom, I really liked this article! It was very well written. I really liked the A, B, C system. I find a mixture of all of these systems in my everyday life. For the A system, I wish I would find it more but I do have it sometimes. Sometimes this might happen if I finish a big project for school. I know that I am able to finish it, even if the project is hard, and it motivates me for the next times that I will have to do such a big project. I think that I experience system B the most because after a long day, I want to relax and do nothing. Finally, I don’t come across the C system as much, which is probably for the better. Sometimes, I feel a sense of draining when I am working on homework which isn’t good. This happens if I end up not getting enough sleep, I feel exhausted. I feel drained on the things that I know that I have to do. I think people need to learn that all three of these systems can be very important in your life. For A, it is good to be energized and motivated to do many things. For B, sometimes it is good to take a step back from life and relax and not wear yourself out. For C, it can be good to be drained sometimes because then you realize that you need sleep or need relaxation where you can then start at system A. With that being said, how do we get people to realize that this energy system is good to have? Thanks for sharing this article Tom!

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article because I could relate it to most of the things that I do in my every day life. When I reflected upon my daily routines/activities, I was able to label them a specific level of energy (A, B, or C) as you had explained. It made me think, “Hmm, well there’s something I would have never considered to be draining before.”
    I agree with what you said about how when folks actually do end up working for a purpose, that they tend to work from the top-down. Before entering college, I would think to myself, “What would my parents like to see me doing?” Or, “What would my family think if I chose this profession?” I didn’t consider my own ideas or possibilities. I was always thinking of external forces. Overall, I thought this article was practical and was easy to relate to!

  • I like that you included the energy levels. I feel as if I have fallen into all of these categories at one point in my life. Before, and sometimes after, I start something that I HAVE to do, I feel like level C. But if it is something I enjoy, then I feel at a Level A. The thing is, sometimes I think I will fall into a level C category and end up turning out to be a Level A, which is awesome! Also half the reason I have motivation to do everything is the benefits of Level A afterward. Thank you!

  • I really enjoyed this article, I would have never imagined organizing with these levels to help create and figure out my purpose in life. I have found that depending on the project or what is going on in my day, I might fall in every category simultaneously. Also, I do tend to think about what my family might say or do in this situation. I have a very strong relationship with my family, and they play it huge role in my life, how could I not think about them when considering my purpose? Also, is it safe to say that each level is healthy? That it is sometimes okay to be in different levels throughout the day?

  • This article is one that I will continue to read and reblog for the rest of my life. The issue Tom Chi bring to the surface is that people never challenge their inheritance and they miss out on a chance to make a purpose of their own. The idea of not simply living by default resonates with me on a very deep level. Chi makes you evaluate your life, your decisions, your motives and asses whether or not they stem from what you believe or if it’s just inherited. Without even knowing the three ABC stages before reading this article, it’s obvious to me now that I was essentially living a C level-draining life. Before I used to sit on the couch, watch three sitcoms in a row, eat and do it all over again the next day. I never explored why I did those things, I just did them. And then one day I realized that I was getting nothing from that besides habituation. That didn’t resonate with me as much as this article did. I decided to change how I went about my day, finding new ways to explore and doors to open that I thought were locked before. Of course I’m not at a100% A-level life, but I’m slowly moving away from that draining lifestyle so many people seem to inherit. One question I ask (to anyone) is what does Litmus mean? I could easily look it up, but I really wanted to see if anyone else was confused about the word because quite frankly I’ve never heard it before so how could I possibly know what it meant without simply guessing? Which I did. So if anyone could answer that for me, I’d greatly appreciate it. Great article Tom Chi!

  • I liked this article a lot! It’s a very easy way to understands ones motives. I can definitely relate to Level A energizing when I golf. If I have a really good round I tend to walk off the golf course more excited than when I entered it. I need to work on finding more A level activities because right now I have too many C level activities in my life. With that being said, how would the energy levels relate to your career? My major is Physical Education and I won’t know if I will want to do that for the rest of my life. So how can I tell if it’s a level A, B, C, activity for me?

  • I found this completely useful and relatable to the general person’s life. I specifically find the example with watching tv so common. I wonder why that is so common? Like the guilty feeling…. Super interesting article. I would love to know why Tom Chi became interested in this information.

  • Tom, I can not agree with you more in your formula to finding purpose for ourselves, by ourselves. I am currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I spent a lot of my time getting ahead in school by taking summer and winter term classes towards a business degree. I have always felt out of place and dreaded going to accounting. After I had enrolled in to my professors health classes, (Ann Garvin,another unreasonable author) I felt that I had finally decided where I wanted to be and what I want to study. After 15 minutes of thinking it over I decided that the classes and topics made me feel exactly how you described being in level A. I went ahead and changed my major, and am very excited to see where it takes me. What would you suggest to those of us who feel that they cannot do anything about their “Level C” lifestyle? and changes they need to think about doing to be able to achieve the “Level A” feeling.Thank you so much for sharing such a great formula and outlook on finding someone’s purpose.

  • I agree with the day-to-day activities getting repetitive.
    There are those days where I feel like I need to be a level B, because I am
    always busy between school and volleyball.
    On those days relaxing and
    enjoying Netflix sounds ideal. Then when I am in level B for a few hours I want
    to go back to my day-to-day activities, because that is what my body is used
    to. My question for you is on your days off does it feel like time is going
    slow due to not being as active as usual?

  • This was a very interesting read. Before stumbling across this article, I hadn’t really thought deeper into why I do the things that I do. I can’t necessarily pinpoint which of the A, B, or C lifestyles I live, I feel like I sometimes have a combination of all of them. The way you explained the connection between the different lifestyles made me realize that I need to take steps in the “A” direction, because that connects directly to my happiness. I would like to ask you about your thought process in developing the different lifestyles. Thank you for this article, it was very well written!

  • Thank you for this very straightforward article! It was a nice break from the cliché phrases to “change my life for the better” and “follow my dreams”. Don’t get me wrong, I will follow me dreams, but sometimes I just need to be pointed in the right direction. As a student athlete I do strive for greatness every day, but I know many people do not consciously set goals and work towards them. Success takes hard work, and after reading this article, I would like to see a day in the life of you!

  • Energizing, neutral and draining are great ways of categorizing things you do in life. All to often people do things that are draining yet do not serve a purpose to their lives. I am guilty of this of this but when you’re consciously thinking is this activity energizing? Is it neutral? Is it draining? This can really help you better organize your life and priorities. It could also help you figure out if there’s something you need to change or build upon. Since things like studying and working can be draining are those things we should combine with neutral or energizing things so one could feel less drained?

  • Thank you Tom Chi for this post. It was very inspiring to read. I agree that we all need to figure out what our strong points are and what we enjoy to do. I loved your point where you mentioned “to examine our inherited frameworks and question how much it truly speaks to us instead of simply living it by default.” Do you think it’s easy for everyone to find their purpose in life?

  • Mr. Chi, thank you for the article. I agree with you that there are three levels on how to manage energy. I also find myself at times in the level B zone where I do something neutral but I feel like I’m wasting time. I hate wasting time but I also feel like relaxation is crucial. After reading this I do think differently about how I’m going to use my time and realize what my priorities are. Do you feel something that energizes you can eventually drain you as well?

  • Tom,
    I like how you are telling us to mange our energy and look for excitement in the things we do that’s what makes them enjoyable. I feel that most people today tend to be encouraged by how much money one can make in a certain fields rather then following their heart and doing what they find joy and excitement in. This post has really helped discovery my niche and inspired me to do what I find most excitement in. Do you feel that just because todays society tend to go into careers that they don’t have a passion for just because the pay is great?

  • These explanations are incredible. As I look at stages A,B, and C I can totally understand all 3 of them and I see where I have inherited habits as well. I think all people can benefit from an article like this because we don’t normally consciously think about our sources of motivation. I am intrigued as to how much research you had to do to come up with all of these terms or if you found these frameworks through self evaluation?

  • Reading this post actually did help me understand the type of living that I am doing and how I am suseptable to the different feelings that I have about the way I am living. I have a C level of energy because I enjoy the feeling of being overloaded because it keeps me grounded in my everyday life. I get level one energy when I do something great within my level C but when the day is over I get the level A energy from being able to indulge in level B. Something else to think about when determining your purpose of life would be to go out and get it other than waiting for it. Trial and error. I agree that it takes a concious process but if there are multiple things to consider than it will be a lot easier to discover yourself.

  • This article was very engaging! I like how you said energy has A, B, and C levels because I find myself in all three of those every once in awhile. I agree that it is something that can only be discovered by a conscious process because when people think about what they are actually doing; then they actually have a sense on why they are doing that! Thanks for the fascinating article!

  • I am very glad that I found this post. Lately I seem to be in level C most days and all I ever want to do is go back to my apartment and watch Netflix all day. This post inspires me to change something to take me back to level A. What do you do if you have something in your life that takes you to level A some days but down to level C on other days?

  • Thanks, Tom. This article really helps me break down what I truly enjoy in my life. Just thinking back on activities that I’ve done throughout the day, I can begin to narrow down the specific characteristics that the different activities have in common in order to find “purpose” in my life. So thank you again for posting this. It is also great to hear that even though you are financially stable, you continue to try to better yourself and the world around you.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I’m not too sure which level I am at because I seem to alternate between all three. I’m usually a Level C when I’m at school and work, and then I switch between a Level A and B depending on what I’m doing. What level do you find yourself most at?

  • This article was great one and makes a lot of sense, but I have a few questions. What if you do level A activities and feel that energy but you don’t necessarily think that is your established purpose in life? I do activities all the time that leave me feeling energized at times but other times when I do these they do nothing for me. Another question I have is you said if you cannot wait to get home and watch TV and drink a beer you are probable living a level C life. I am a student athlete so I am constantly on the move. A lot of times I cannot wait to just get home and relax, but I do not think I am living a level C life at all.

  • Thank you, Tom, for this great article!

    I have a question for you, how to deal / get level B move to level A?

    Perfect time, this article with the quotes something that I need to be remind myself with an effort to put manage my energy and priority.

  • I thought the levels of energy was an interesting concept, and could be a useful tool in measuring our drive on a day-to-day basis. But I would like to challenge the fact that finding one’s purpose could be dependent on how one evaluate’s his/her accomplishments. For me, I find success in not only completing goals, but also in building those around me to become the best they can be. So some of my purpose is determined by the value other’s carry with them. Although difficult at times, I know I am relationship-oriented, and find a sense of meaning in others’ performance. The question I will leave you to ponder is, how does other’s positive performance morph into an internal driver, when at times there is little or no feedback or affirmation?

  • Thanks so much for this article! It definitely allowed me to further reflect on my life to better organize my priorities. I think prioritizing what’s really important in life allows one to understand their true “purpose” in life. I really enjoyed this article, as I found myself putting myself into different categories depending on my day to day activities. Once again, thank you for sharing this wonderful article!

  • This is true, you do have to get a job and earn a living if you want to be a valuable member to society. Why does money have to equal happiness? I think you can have a sense of purpose in life whether you come from wealth or not. Finding happiness and purpose in your everyday should be good enough.

  • Probably the best article I’ve read on here yet. Makes me realize that Level B activities are what I look forward to and therefore must be involved in too many Level C activities. The only problem is that I haven’t exactly found a Level A activity, and I’m conscious of that. I still have no idea what I want to do after I graduate and that wears on my mind and makes just about everything a Level C activity. I also always find myself questioning the meaning of life which is why I was attracted to the title of the article. I know plenty of people at my age have the same issue so I’ll just have to keep grinding away until I find some Level A activities.

  • I think it’s great for
    people to get a greater understanding for their motivations. This can be really
    helpful for me and the people I’m around every day. Being in school most people
    have no idea why they are there, they just know it’s something they should do.
    I also feel like some people live their everyday life like that. Once you find
    the motivation and see the reason for the way you are it makes everything else
    come together. Do you think after living on your own your ideas of money have
    changed? Do you feel your parents played a large role in all of your everyday
    decisions? Thank you for the great article.

  • Great article! I agree that the purpose of life can be discovered through a conscious process because when I really sit down and think on why I doing what I am doing I understand it a lot better. I love your example about sitting on the couch watching three sitcoms because when I do that I think what a freaking waste of time. Then I think man I could used that time to study! Additionally, I love the formula you have created about energy! 🙂

  • I thought this article was very interesting. It made me look at my choices and purpose in life, in a different way. I agree with you, about inheriting certain purpose from your family. My dad, cousins, and uncle all went to UW-Whitewater for College, and its a college that most of my family expect me to go to. When I was applying for colleges, UW-Whitewater was the only school that I applied for. Today, looking back it makes me think about what if I applied at another college and got in? What if I went to a different college? What would my life be like right now? I’m not saying that I regret going to whitewater for school, but there is always a thought in my mind of what if I’m supposed to be at a different school? I think my decision was mainly based on my family. Part of me did really want to go there, and part of me wanted to live up to the family trend, of being accepted into UW-Whitewater. Have you ever chose to do something just to live up to your Family’s expectations? Did you find it to be a mistake, or did it end up being something you were really glad you did? Thank you for sharing this article.

  • This is a great post! I definitely understand the three different levels. I feel like I need to find more A level activities in my life. I think that will come more so when I graduate and have more time to myself and hopefully only one job instead of three on top of school. Right now all I feel like doing when I get home is B level activities and I don’t feel very satisfied with that. I definitely will try to put this into action in my life! Thank you!

  • This article was very interesting! The article made me dig deeper to my purpose in life and some different ways to add activities in my day. I need to add i little more A level activities for when im feeling tired or neutral. I will use your easy A,B,C guide to rework some activities i do in my life. What made you think of this idea?

  • I like this article because I can relate to it in many ways. I struggle with knowing if I’m on the right path with what I want to with my life but realistically I need to change what I don’t like about my life and make the best out of my life and what makes me happy and what makes me feel like I’m getting the best out of what I’m doing with my life so far. I really appreciate this article and I love to hear new advice when it comes to knowing if I’m making the right choices for myself.

  • I really like the A, B, and C levels that you have displayed because it makes the idea personable in that we can all fit our own lifestyle activities into the categories. It really is a good idea to reflect on the things that you participate in day in and day out because you don’t want to be stuck on that level C wasting your time and energy on things you truly could care less about. Just because your family has this “tradition” or a normalized pattern of how your life is supposed to be laid out doesn’t mean that is the path you must follow. This is what gets us caught up in the C and B level where we really want to be excelling at the A level! I think this article gives people an opportunity to look at a few routines or lifestyle choices that they may want to change or just tweak to be more fitting for their own purpose. I really think the main thing to take away is that you should be making conscious decisions about everything that you put time and energy into. Don’t just do something because someone else wants you to or because that is “the tradition”.

  • You have given great insights here. Kudos for that. However, my opinion is hat we should change the way we look at things and not just follow what was said or done before. One’s purpose in life should be to leave this world a better place, period, and that can be done in many ways. Do it in whatever way you know how. My recommendation (haven’t succeeded fully but still striving), is that we all strive to be just (justice) human beings. Our purpose is to believe in and practice justice, period. Be it. If you see it, do something about it, don’t just live with it, and hope it will somehow disappear.

  • This is an interesting article. I really enjoy how all the unreasonable article challange me to think differently.I feel like I have truly found who I am. I think that through my life experiences, I have been able to look at my framework of what makes me, me. I don’t think or do things to same ways that others do. I believe that “finding yourself” is a big problem for individuals today. People just tend to go with the flow because they are afraid to be different or don’t want to put the work into something. As for the different levels, i believe that most of the time I am on level A and B. I am the person that cannot just sit down and watch a movie. I have to be working on something else at the same time. What level would you say you are on most of the time? Thank you!

  • So many people live the life of a robot. They go in and out of each daily activity running the same way, not thinking about many other things. I know sometimes I feel as if I am in autopilot and need to take a step back. Ask myself if I am happy with what I am doing, and if I’m not, how can I squeeze something to make myself happy? Even if that means going out to eat, or taking a yoga class to clear my head. Self-evaluating can be so helpful and effective, because we aren’t always thinking about how we’re feeling, we’re thinking “oh i need to get this done, I have to do this later.” Realizing where you are at can be beneficial because then you can tweak things here and there to create a better lifestyle for yourself. Thankfully, I find myself to be in the “positive” B, sometimes A category. Do you have advice for people who feel they are stuck in the C category?

  • Awesome response, J-Walk. I agree that taking a step back is a huge part of being happy with your life. Especially during stressful times, this simple step can be the difference between getting something done or stressing yourself out over it. I like to consciously look at my life from an objective point of view once a day, and it usually ends in me going fishing because that is what makes me happy.

  • What is your niche Trevor? Does the amount of money you want to make drive your career choice?

  • This sounds like an awesome idea! I’d like to give it a try with clean eating and exercise. Good luck with your 30 day challenge!

  • Jack, Money shouldn’t dictate your career goals, but be a positive to the purpose you’ve already found in life! Good luck pursuing your dreams!

  • I can’t wait to try this out! Now that I have read the Bottom to Top, ABC, method I will be looking into it more and more. I’m sure I will catch myself after a long day of class and/or work that I will just want to crash on the couch and watch some tv. I will need to think about what keeps my energized. As a fitness instructor this is important so I don’t drain myself out too quickly and am tired for the hours, days and weeks that follow. Perfect timing for this article as well because Spring Break is coming up for most of us College Students, and if you’re not going anywhere, it is easy to just sit at home and do nothing since you are so drained from the semester already. Thanks for the encouragement to try this all out for myself! Can’t wait to see what will come about this!

  • I love this article Tom, thank you for sharing it! The A,B,C energy test is such an easy way to decipher what kinds of things bring out the best in us and which things don’t. Many times we continue to engage in things that drag us down or motivate us less instead of engaging in fun activities that we enjoy most. I believe many of us do this because we often live routine lives and forget to experience new things while continuing to enhance our interests and skills. We need to better assess our interests in the events that occur in our lives in order to live life to the fullest. This test is a simple way to do so, and I can’t wait to use it to see whether the activities I have been engaging in for so long are truly personally stimulating or not. Did this test surprise you when you used it on activities that you have been engaging in for a long time and realized that your interests in such activities weren’t as strong as they could be?

  • My niche is I have a high passion for helping people. Money doesn’t play a factor for me because I will being some I have a passion for. Becoming a physical therapist clearly pays well, but its not about the money its about having the ability to help some come back from an injury and become better.

  • I love this article. I agree that there needs to be more to life. More purpose, more adventures, more meaning. What are a few things that make your life meaningful and why?

  • Thank you for this article and a bit of validation that I am living a purposeful life that some days is heavier on C than on A, but overall is balanced. I do find when I have spent too much time on draining activities that I am drawn to recharging activities. I am recharged when I allow myself the time to be creative.
    I appreciate the structure you put to being purposeful.

  • I also feel the same way. My whole family has gone to UW-W and I also think it gave this school an edge over anything else. I am a senior now and have loved all 4 years so far but I do once and awhile wonder what would have happened if I went against tradition and tried schooling anywhere else. With this being said, there is always gonna be times in your life when you second guess yourself but you have to know that everything happens for a reason and you are on your own individual path to success.

  • I really enjoyed this article. I like how it says to relate your life to the level B activities. If I am overwhelmed I always enjoy watching Netlfix and just relaxing, but if I do too many ‘A” activities, I feel that I am wasting time and that I should be doing something more productive. Do you think some people get drained a lot more easily than others.and would you consider people lazy for doing too many “A” activities?

  • I love this article. I agree that there needs to be more to
    life. More purpose, more adventures, more meaning. What are a few things that
    make your life meaningful and why?

  • I completely agree. We should be aware on how our family etc. affects the choices that we make in life. Personally, I have realized that family is one of the big factors of how I’ve made some of my decisions throughout my life. Figuring out what college I wanted to go to was one of those decisions I kind of based on my family. UW-Whitewater was the school that my dad, my uncle and cousins all went to and with all my family going there, it was almost like tradition that I go there. Family is a big part on how people make decisions today, rather people want to deny it or not.

  • I think that is very noble. If everyone felt that way, the world would be a better place.

  • I agree more energy the better you are during the day or at school and work. It’s also a stress reliever.

  • Being with friends because they could be gone in a blink of an eye. We all impact someone in our life in one way or another. So you have to value and treasure friends that you have and who you meet recently.

  • Tom, thanks you for the article. I love this article in many ways. Also love your formula of the energy levels. I wish more articles were like this one, to remind human beings to find the purpose of living. 90% of the time I feel I am at Level A, sadly, because I often become drained into Level B/C after being frustrated by people who miss out on the purpose of life. I have zero tolerance for Level C. Do you have statistics of any kind that indicate how many people are at each level? wouldn’t be surprised if Level C had the highest percentage.

  • In my life I feel like I live half for the purpose of my religion and parents and half for myself. I try to be a respectable person and a good friend that my parents would be proud of, but there are other things that I do that my parents wouldn’t agree with, but I see it as living my own life. I sometimes struggle with “should I do what my parents would want me to do, or should I do what I want?” As I’m sure most people have dealt with something like this.

  • I completely agree with what you said. People do often live routine lives, it has essentially become a habit. We do the same thing every day because not many of us like change. We like the way things are and we are content with how things are going in our lives. However, when we fail to experience new things throughout our life, we fail to grow more as a person. In order to grow more, you need more experience. And more experience means getting out there and trying something new.

  • I fully agree with you Kendra. I myself try to experience new things in life so that I can become a more well-rounded individual with more knowledge and intellect. However, I oftentimes find myself living the same routine day to day. I think change can be difficult, especially if you are not seeking it and are content with the life you have now. However, like you said, when we fail to experience new things, we fail to grow as an individual. If everyone were to live such routine lives, our society would remain the same as well and would fail to prosper.

  • I fully agree with you Jessica. Self-evaluating is extremely helpful and effective. We need to do more of what makes us happy rather than what is expected of us. Focusing on thyself can be very beneficial to one’s health, while reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. Sometimes taking a step back in life helps you become more successful in the future because you are better able to assess your needs and improve your time management skills.

  • I fully agree with you Sandy. This test is extremely helpful and practical. After I read this article, monitoring which activities are most draining and which are most energizing has been so easy and beneficial in helping to reduce my stress, anxiety, and depression. I have realized that I spend too much of my time on activities that are both mentally and physically draining, most of which pertain to school, and not enough time on activities that are stimulating and enjoyable to me. I have made a few changes and have already began to feel better on a day to day basis. Thank you!

  • I agree.. Very engaging article. I like the points that were made like you said, A, B, and C levels. This is a beneficial article and people need to read it. I like seeing where I sit in the three different levels. Thanks for the article.

  • I completely agree with you on not liking things when they are too vague. I also like framework that is easy to follow because like you said, we can’t assume that the answer is right before beginning. I think sometimes people often like to think that they have time for everything, when in reality, the focus should be on managing the energy.

  • Katie, I agree about being positive about the goals you have for yourself in life. You should focus on wanting to do what you love, and find your “purpose” from there.

  • Through my younger years, I agree. I did things that my parents would be proud of. I made the “right decision” a lot of the time because I didn’t want to disappoint them. Once I got older, though, I realized that it is MY life. I don’t want to be my parents. Nothing against them, (they’re great), but I want to turn out to be my own person that I can be happy with in the end and I think I am well on my way to doing so!

  • I think you did a great job here Tom. You clearly stated what you wanted in a sensible manor. Now when you say that you wanted to write to be useful and not vague, are referring to your work for the unreasonable? Or the very blog?

  • I agree totally, but as the next generation is should be a key point to install this into our children so maybe we can make the world a better place.

  • Thank you for sharing information about purpose and specifically inherited purpose. It was interesting to learn about the levels of energy (A, B, and C). The A, B, and C Levels of Energy allow us to evaluate energy and meaning/ purpose in our own personal lives in a structured way that isn’t to broad. It is healthier for me to use this way of thinking and could help many. After using this method to evaluate myself I realized how important it is to use the “bottom up formula” rather than the “top-down” method. Being a college student I think it is important to evaluate purpose in a positive way. What are other evaluation methods?

  • Thanks for the article, Tom. I liked how you got straight to the point of having different energy levels. I think once you can define activities with A,B, or C energy levels, you might think differently and make a more energized approach. For the most part i am a level B energizer, i like to sit in a comfy seat and watch movies and only get up if something is really important.

  • I absolutely loved this article! It has so much insight and advice that I have never thought about before. I am intrigued by both the top down and bottom up ways to formulate a sense of purpose in life. Some of the top down ways that I have inherited from my parents are the importance of money and education, in which I agree and pursue. But what I found even more interesting was the bottom down ways in formulating a sense of purpose. I found that I am living a level C lifestyle. This observation shocked me and I have came to realize that I am not living a purposeful life. I need to engage in activities that stimulate my brain and provide energy to my body.

  • I agree with you Sandy! This has definitely made me look back on my last 3 years of college and ask myself these questions. Most of my days are filled with sitting in class and observing speech therapy sessions, which to my is part of level c. Then, I have at least an hour or two a day to play with my cat or relax on the couch, this is level b. Then, every Tuesday and Thursday, I volunteer at the Headstart program with 3 and 4 year olds. This is my a part. The kids have such an incredible way of thinking and bonding with them is something I always look forward to. My goal is to work on balancing these out more!! What are your different levels of activities?

  • My life is def filled with more Level A activities. I feel the same when i waste met time watching tv, when I could have done some of my level A things.

  • What a unique way to look at this! I really enjoy your philosophy and appreciate your concepts. Perhaps, the idea I agreed with most was that your life is relative and how you view certain situations or particular days depends on those before it. You may interpret a B level event as boring because your day had been primarily filled with A events. Realizing this, to make your life feel purposeful, you need to seek out those events that you consider A events.

  • This article has a very nice twist on the meaningfulness of life. The ABC method is effective and makes you really think about how you are living your life and what you can do to change it to be more of a level A person. This is a very interesting and useful tactic.

  • People can be very vague, for example “find happiness”. Finding happiness is something within yourself. I agree that this does work for some people and for others it is totally a blur because of the simplicity of a phrase, but unable to explain “how to”. I feel that being vague gets you no where in life.

  • There are no idols, no heroes in a world of death.
    It’s all a joke and so are you,
    and so am I… think? just look and see…
    It’s a fucked reality..

  • This article helps you realize what exactly you are doing everyday and how your handleing things. This ABC test it an awesome way to self evaluate yourself. A lot of people are more at part B which is neutral. More poeple I think could fall under A if they sat down and re thought there daily activities. I can almost guarantee there are a lot of kids on our campus that fall under C because of lazy they are and not even realizing it. If you allow yourself to rethink your daily routine most could be in category A mostly if they keep there energy and mood. The question is though how do people that fall under C get out of that phase? Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for this article and your comment. I agree with what you say to an extent about following a frame work. I really like that in most aspects of life because it can help you stay grounded. However, don’t you think following a frame work can be like following someone else’s plan’s or idea’s like you said before?

  • I feel that people need to discover the world and understand their purpose. People weren’t bred and put on this earth just to be sheep for a hearder. No they were here to make an impact on someone or some peoples lives. The purpose will one day appear to everyone, but until then think that everyone needs to do some soul searching with some reality checks thrown in there.

  • This was an awesome article thanks! This article made realize that I am still looking for my Level A activity. I think I personally am involved in so many activities that I never have more energy than I did the first time because I am just burnt out. I really do need to find my Level A activity though. I want to find my level A activity, but I do not really know what to do. I know that I often times question what is my purpose in life, so maybe when that question is answered my Level A activity will be found. This article has made me realize that reflecting on the things I participate in daily is important because I do not want to waste my time or my life. I One thing that did make me think about myself is that in my family, I have not done anything really “traditoin” wise and at a point in time I was skeptical about that but after reading this article I am not skeptical at all. I do not have to follow a path that was laid out for me, I could create my own path! I really am going to be more aware of the things that I do and the decisions that I make, and still stay on the look out for that Level A activity. How can someone go about figuring out what their level A activity is?

  • Thank you for this article, it puts a new perspective on things for me. I really like how you used the different ‘Levels’ to help try and create a sense of purpose. I think I would put myself as a Level B and sometimes a Level A, but my main aim would definitely be to get to Level A. I also agree with you about when people say phrases like ‘follow your heart’ etc, but does that really help me? To an extent, yes, but I would much rather have an easy framework like this to follow. What Level would you put yourself as?

  • Thanks for the article. Although I don’t necessarily think the top-down method is wrong, I do think that the bottom-up method has potential to yield a better outcome. I think that ideally your purpose in life needs to be self-driven and not entirely formulated off of what you think others want from you. I think it’s ok to do that to an extent but I do believe at least some of it needs to come from yourself. What would you say are some good examples of C level activities? Does it vary by individual?

  • People tend to be vague for a couple of reasons. One being they are afraid of being wrong. They say something that can be taken in many ways, and used in different ways kind of like a horoscope. The second reason is being we really don’t know.

  • Thanks for the post. I agree. We are consuming ourselves by doing way too many things in our lives that we never have enough energy for the things we care most about. This test is a great way to determine what you need to focus on what you need to cut out.

  • I really enjoyed reading this article. I loved reading about the different levels. I am still looking for my level A activity. I need to start taking some time and start thinking about different things I can do that will give me more energy. I definitely use level B a lot. I am always on my laptop and watching television so i should definitely change some of that time into A activities. Are level C activities like exercising or what? I don’t really know what you mean by draining.

  • It’s depressing to think that I have been living in category C for weeks now! Sitting down on the couch and watching tv sounds completely amazing right now. I just havent had time to wind down with college finals coming up, and papers, and projects oh my! I like that this article isn’t as ambiguous as some peoples articles about finding life purpose. Thank you for the insight.

  • I completely agree, I like that I now have something to measure, compare and contrast, my energy level to. I think before I thought that I was enjoying the things I was doing, but I think back and I was so excited to sit down and just veg out…i must have been drained…category C!

  • I agree with you Dannielle! I am not stuck in the category C but I also haven’t had time to wind down and find too many relaxing strategies to use. It’s all about juggling your time and energy!

  • Thank you for the post! When I was first reading this, I didn’t agree with what you were saying, but as I read on you challenged my mind to view purpose differently. I am very strong in my faith so I believe that my purpose is driven within my savior Jesus Christ, however I also took away from this article that your energy and time need to balance one another out.

  • This is helpful in some ways but also feels a bit simplistic. I am having a hard time finding motivation because I feel unequipped to do the things I really want to do in my life. This causes me to want to veg out because it distracts me from my suffering.

  • I think the idea for the different stages is great. I think that It will help people strive to get up to the A stage but and think twice about staying inactive B stage for too long. I also liked the intro to the article it kind of made me think for a second and made me realize that I have been living to please my parents and doing things to please them. I need to start living for myself more and not making decisions based on what my parents would think.

  • I think that this is a great way to start figuring out who you are. It goes back to the debate of nature-nurture.
    Are our genetics and mindset affecting who we are? Or the things that we hold as values.
    It is important to come to a point in your life where your thoughts and words become your own. I’ve seen the stages through family members quite often. For example, my little 11 year old sister copies 99% of the things that I say and tries to do the same activities as well. Kids are especially susceptible to the influence of those that they surround themselves by. As adulthood comes around, we then work our way through maturity by discovering the world by trial and error; removing what they don’t quite agree with in the process (let’s hope).
    The 3 levels of energy is genius. I feel like there are so many times that I go for the “Bs” because the Cs are worse. But then I get nothing accomplished and move back down from B->C again.
    Being aware that the level A exists and that their are motivations and things in life that I enjoy because of who I am, with my personality and experiences as the background of it, makes me feel more ready to accept the challenges that arise to reap more of these high energy situations .

  • This article has some really good points. I like the bottom up formula. I think you are right that not many people have the all A or all C level. It is usually a combination of levels which in a way I think is good. I think that everyone has times where they just want to sit and do nothing and I feel like depending on your job it might be good for the body to have that time. But it is definitely not a good thing to do it all the time.

  • As a college student, I always try to create a sense of purpose for myself hoping I will figure out my path for the future. I always hear “follow your bliss” and never understood what people would mean by that. How do I do this without forcing something to happen? I understand I should allow myself to figure it out on my own, but I do believe that can be difficult for some people. Fortunately, I figured out the best thing to do for myself and my future, but there are still young adults that need guidance. Some people need and want to be told what to do. Those individuals look for someone to create their purpose.

  • This article seems to be spot on. As a college student i feel like i am busy all the time either studying, doing homework or working so that i can pay for my next semester of school. However, there are times when i come home and sit on the couch and watch Netflix and not even realize that 2 hours just went by. That truly does make me think, “Uhhhh wow, what the heck am i doing? I could have just read 20 pages in my anatomy book and actually learned something.” Sometimes i feel like i get this idea in my head that after a long day of school it is okay to just turn my brain off when i get home. This article has helped me realize that if i can keep up my energy throughout the day, when i get home i can still be productive. Thanks Tom.

  • I definitely agree. Mind over matter is such a crazy and powerful concept even though it is used all the time. I think a lot of the times we make ourselves more tired by thinking about how tired we are all the time. Staying busy throughout the day definitely helps me keep my energy up.

  • Great article! I think that I will defiantly use some of the tactics used in this article in my every day life when it comes to evaluating the concept of “having a purpose” with everything that you do. What I really took away from this article is the fact that in order to really have a since of purpose in your life you have to have a drive. You have to be passionate about something in order to give it your all, and thats what gives you your purpose, following your passion.

  • I agree that having enough energy can make you feel way better about anything you do and having energy makes you feel healthier.

  • Wow, this article was definitely thought provoking. As I think about my professional life, I see a lot more level B and C activities than I’d like. In the last few years I’ve learned that when I start project for the first
    time I’ll be an A, but if it’s an annual or recurring task it will start daring me after about 18 months and will become a B or C (at about 2-3 years). I’m not sure what that means – maybe I am restless, or maybe I need to change roles every 2 years to stay engaged. I’d never considered dividing my life into these types of segments before and I think it’s simple and certainly impactful.

    I also wonder what culture and parental expectations have on A/B/C. If you have a supportive family are you more likely to have a career or live a life that includes more A activities? Or is it the reverse – if
    you had a tough childhood and little support will you be so determined to lead a successful live that you will have more A activities?

    I am thankful that young people have the opportunity to meet with career and guidance counselors to help them discover what their A activities are and then how to match those with a career. 15 years ago when I
    was deciding what to study at University the support and time given to career guidance was minimal and I am pleased to see that it has grown.

  • i didn’t realize i had inherited my purpose from my family. it wasn’t until i woke up and stopped normalizing unhealthy behavioral dynamics. these casts are insidious! i do feel as if i am finding great purpose in social innovation and engagement within the community : )

  • This is an interesting article. I do feel that we all work on a framework that is inherited. Watching our parents struggles, things you have seen or experienced, and even the struggles of the neighborhood you live in. Those things motivate you from the start and over time it builds. I believe it is a combination of the three at times. It builds over time till you are at a point where you are ready to make a change of some kind. We all have a purpose, it is find what our purpose is sometimes is the problem. Most of the time it is right in front of us. Platforms such as unreasonable.is is here to assist in finding that purpose, the journey to that purpose his at times not easy. But well worth it in the end.

  • Thoughtful post. I appreciate the A,B,C method on managing energy, not time – which is something I advocate, and I particularly like this articulation and use.

    With respect to purpose, there are several methods for getting clearer on purpose. After several years of searching for my own purpose, the best method I’ve come across and that I’ve now been licensed to coach others through is the True PurposeTM process. It is a step-by-step, proven process to discover your life’s purpose. It uses a meditative approach in which you connect with your deeper / inner wisdom. It also requires inner work of clearing through external influences and the beliefs we develop and adopt as we grow up and experience life, so it may not be for everyone. However, it can result in powerful inner alignment that eases the inner conflict that often prevents us from realizing our potential in the world.

    If you are searching for your purpose, then I highly recommend you check out the method.

  • I am a college student, and I am still in the process of figuring out what my purpose in life is. Sometimes I feel like nothing “big” has happened in my life for me to feel strong passion for. Many others have had a life-changing experience, or grew up in a situation that shapes their passions and what they want to do in life; I have always had a difficult time pinpointing why exactly I am going in the direction I am going. This article has helped me think of purpose in a whole new light. For one to formulate a purpose, there are top-down and bottom-up ways to do it, and I have begun thinking of both. This has helped me understand where I have come from, where I am going, and why. While there is no “formula” to life, the bottom-up formula with the three levels of energy generates an immense amount of thought that categorizes my daily activities and motivation. With the recognition of the Level A activities in my life, and the motivating factor behind those activities, I feel that I can shape my life based on these motivating factors; I do not need a “big” experience or situation to have direction, I just have to recognize what motivates me and brings meaning to my life, which will pour into what I do and shape my purpose in life. By no means have I completely figured my life out, but recognizing who I am and what motivates me is a great first step. I understand that I will constantly be changing as a person, and my motivations and purpose will change here and there, constantly being defined and tweaked. It will be important for me to periodically check the direction I am going to make sure I don’t stray from the path I strive to be on. All in all, I love the amount of thought provoked by this article, which has helped and will help me immensely in figuring out what my purpose in life is. Thanks for the article Mr. Chi!

  • This post really encouraged me to look outside of my daily habits and see what it is I do that is in that Grade C Level of Energy. So many times I think we all just resort to going through life because “that’s the way it is done” or has always been when we need to challenge those perspectives. The vagueness in this post really make it something that is able to be adapted to anyone and uses by many. In the future I’m going to challenge myself to find for Grade A Level of Energy, while there’s no formula to life or finding that sense of purpose I think reflection and walking in your own footsteps to find what really makes you tick can often work the best.

    One thing I’m reflecting on when reading this is that in many of my classes I find myself at the Level C. I think that It will help people strive to get up to the A stage but and hopefully this will not make me settle for B stage activities if I am unsuccessful. I also liked the intro to the article it kind of made me think for a second and made me realize that I have been living to please my parents and doing things to please them. Does that mean I’m not interested in the course? Not necessarily but it’s a good indicator that maybe I should find a way to challenge myself to get to a Level B or A. As a Finance major numbers can sometimes just be long and drawn out. I think the Level of Energy indicator definitely is useful but there has to be another way. I’m trying to think of a way to gauge purpose but it is difficult.

    Mr. Chi you have done a wonderful job in writing this post. This is a very hard topic to cover let alone try to evaluate. I am interested in hearing more from you and reading the comments to see if anyone else has a better way to find that purpose we are all searching for.

  • This is a fantastic article Tom. I am halfway through my
    third year in college and still do not know how to answer the question “What do
    you want to do with your life?” This of course leads to many awkward situations
    at family gatherings or when I am trying to impress my girlfriend’s father. It
    seems like these days the only correct answer to that question is “I want to be
    a doctor” or “I want to be a lawyer.” No one wants to hear “I am a 20 year old
    entrepreneur in college.” It seems as though there is a stigma with the word
    “entrepreneur”. People perceive someone who claims to be an entrepreneur as a
    lost, free lancing individual with no direction in life. Unless of course the
    person who claims to be an entrepreneur has created some “world changing”
    product like the personal laptop computer or the iPhone, then the entrepreneur
    is incredible and needs to be praised as a genius. I come from a long line of
    doctors. My great grandfather was a doctor, my father is a doctor, and my two
    older brothers are doctors. So what did I do when I got to college? I tried to
    become a doctor, just like them. I took the “Top-down” approach with the hope
    of keeping the family tradition alive. This did not turn out well and I ended
    up in classes that I hated, ultimately leading to depression. What I seemed to
    forget about were the things that gave me life; my “Level A activities”. These
    activities are playing music, golf, reading a good book, exercising, etc. But I
    was not doing any level A activities during this time. I was only engaging in level C activities that
    left me physically and emotionally drained at the end of every day. I was not
    following my purpose in life, but rather my father’s purpose in life.

    At the end of that year I realized that the medical school
    pathway was not for me. I started to
    take more of a “bottom-up approach” with life, looking at the things in life
    that gave me joy and happiness. Today I find myself in a much healthier state
    of mind, studying topics that interest me, as well as becoming more involved in
    my community. I have realized that my purpose here on earth extends further
    than just being a doctor. What that purpose is I still have yet to discover,
    but I feel like I am close.

    As entrepreneurs, we all share somewhat of the same goal: to
    make a difference, no matter if they difference is social based or economically
    based. It is important that we do not get discouraged in the face of doubt, but
    inspired. Inspired by all of the possibilities and opportunities to better the
    world we live in. We should all be taking the “bottom-up” approach. After all,
    all it takes is an idea.

  • I really related to this article because I have been struggling to find my own sense of purpose and what I want to accomplish after my college graduation. This was a really unique approach that I am definitely going to incorporate and think a lot about in these upcoming months while I continue to search for a career and figure out what I am passionate about.

  • This was an extremely interesting take and i really enjoyed the read. I am struggling to find my identity and what I would like to do when I graduate but this really enforced that I should avoid the level C and really stick to doing something I am passionate about, even if it does not pay as well as the others.

  • Thank you Tom Chi for a different way to find a purpose in my life. I dislike when people say to shut your eyes and see your self somewhere in ten years, how will you get there? That is not how you start to find purpose in your life. I like how you describe where our idea of purpose comes from because that is the starting point. I have always thought why do I feel so obligated to make money, strive and spread myself so far, and why do I have to work 60 hours a week right out of college? I was taught strict values and ideas about what ‘success’ meant and that your purpose in life is to be successful. Being successful is what brings happiness, having money brings happiness to an extent, and happiness doesn’t come from work. My parents always hated their occupations or just in general did not enjoy what they did, so I grew up thinking work is work. However, this is something that I do not want to believe in, I want to challenge my pre-conceived notions about work. I will not live unconsciously by my inherited purpose of life; I want to enjoy what I do in life. The three levels you describe, Level A-energizing, Level B-neutral, and Level C-draining are an outline of how to see where you are now and how to measure your purpose in life going forward. I feel like since I am still in college, I am at Levels C and B because relaxing, partying, and watching TV are much better than studying and doing assignments I do not want to do. But I then thought to myself, am I studying the wrong thing? Am I getting a major in something that will never make me happy? The answer is yes! It is sad that I picked to be a finance major because it was a ‘good’ major, but really it is boring and hard. Do not get me wrong, I know you have to work hard to get what you want in life and I do not mind doing that, but it is much easier to work hard when your passionate about it. Since I am a senior, out of state, and pay a grand amount of money to go here I cannot change my major now, but I can change what I do with it. I started to think of what I felt passionate and driven about; what would get me to Level A, finishing an activity with more energy then I started with? Using my finance degree to go global, working in international business, driving and advising mergers and acquisitions, and being the face of a multi million-dollar deal would make me happy. I am young enough, fresh out of college, and willing to do or go anywhere so I think my idea of Level A work is still attainable. I want to be famous within the international business world and I do not want anyone to stop me! Thank you Tom Chi for giving me a starting point as to what I personally think a purpose in life is and a formula to actively find purpose in my life.

  • I found this article extremely interesting. Personally, I feel the older I get, the more I start to wonder about my sense of purpose and where the best place is to find my life meaning. At the same time though, I don’t often consider all the ways I can create a sense of purpose in my life. Up until reading this article, I feel like I defined my sense of purpose solely by my current circumstances, i.e. going to college, working part time, taking care of my dog, being a good daughter, sister, etc. In my mind, my purpose was to fill these roles and if I did them well at the end of the day, I was fulfilling my ‘purpose’. While some could argue I ‘created’ some of these roles through the choices I made, I now see these roles as predetermined roles/purposes that can’t fully answer the question “what is the meaning of life?” After reading this article, I realize I haven’t found my meaning in life yet because I haven’t created it for myself. My inherited purposes have dominated my life, and while I don’t resent those, it’s refreshing to learn that I can question them without losing my entire foundation. It’s scary to think some people go their entire lives “chugging along” not consciously questioning where their meaning of life originates from. I’m grateful for articles like this one, specifically people like Tom who are able to expose these important questions and interpret their ideas in a way that is universally clear. I’m looking forward to using the A, B, C Levels of Energy technique to define my sense of purpose, and really start determining what inherited purposes I’m living “by default” or because I actually I want to live by them. My only question about the article is in regards to the explanation of our individual relationships with the levels. When it says “If you get home from work and can’t wait to do those things [level B activities], then you are probably living mostly a Level C life,” how does that make sense? I understand people accustomed to level A activities seeing level B as a waste of time in terms of excitement level, but if you’re engaging in level B activities, I don’t really see how that correlates to living a level C life. Neutral doesn’t necessarily mean draining in this case. Maybe I’m interpreting it wrong, but I guess I’m just a bit confused by the explanation. Overall great article though!

  • I think what Tom tries to explain is, that a working life on level C sucks engergy, so you come home and gain energy by engaging in B activities. Since your energy is so low you are not capable of doing something on level A. And if some level A activity would come along your life would sooner or later switch, because you realize, that level C just sucks your energy. Hope this point of view is helpful.

  • Hi Kris,

    This article serves a guideline on how to create a sense of purpose in your life. The writer will not directly tell you a step by step basis on how to create yours but instead he wrote about the 3 levels of energy, which tell you whether you enjoy what you’re doing or whether that drains you. Being mindful of this, you can narrow your path to your purpose in life and continue on if you truly enjoy your job, your involvements, whatever activities you do. For example, I have been constantly doing 3 things. I have a job that keeps me on my feet, I binge watch TV shows, and I have social obligations that drains me. Categorizing these activities into the 3 energy levels, I would put my job as Level A: I enjoy being on my feet, multitasking and taking care of people so I could continue onto this path. Level B: Binge watching TV shows is neutral, I am just sitting on my couch. This relaxes me after a long day at work, but too much time spend on this is a waste. So I may have to spend less time of this to continue on pursuing my purpose in life. Lastly, Level C: this social responsibility drains me so I may not continue onto this path because it does not make me happy and would rather do something else. Even though social responsibilities could be draining, it is sometimes needed for networking. However, if you know that you don’t enjoy doing it, you can find something else to do.

    I hope this helped you make sense of this article.

  • Sense of purpose is something that can change at different life stages too. Love the suggestions of reflecting on your roots and work culture to clarify what you drives you deep down. Review your purpose via my skillshare course entitled “Breaking the Chain: from a job your outgrow to a career you love” : http://skl.sh/2p5jmYT