Dad’s Advice to His Children on Finding a Purpose in Life and on Being Happy

This is a letter I decided to write and give to my three children who are going to be graduating college soon or have recently graduated.


Dear Kids:

You have all grown up so fast. I’m struggling with the fact that in a few short years you will all be out of the house and on your own. You will learn that life has its ups and downs. The ups will make you happy and the downs, unhappy. Some things that create these ups and downs are outside your control but, thankfully, most things are within your control. I’ve often told you that how you live your life determines your success and happiness. You’ve heard me say many times that your daily habits are the key to a great life.  If you have more good daily habits than you have bad daily habits life will be good, you’ll be successful and you won’t have to worry about money.  I think you all got that message. But there’s one more message I want to share with all of you before you set out on your own. It has to do with finding your main purpose in life and happiness. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that when any one of you are unhappy your Mom and I are also unhappy. So I am being selfish here. I want all of you to be happy so your Mom and I can be happy as well.

Happiness is elusive to so many. Most people are, in fact, unhappy.  Henry David Thoreau said it best when he wrote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation…”. Most people who are unhappy are unhappy because they are struggling financially. They are struggling financially because either they are living beyond their means or their job simply does not provide them with a sufficient income. Odds are, when you are not making a sufficient income at your job, it is because you are doing something you do not particularly like. When you can earn a sufficient income doing something you enjoy you have found your main purpose in life and you will be happy. But how do you find your main purpose in life? Believe it or not finding your main purpose in life is within your control. Here’s the process:

  1. Make a list of everything you can ever remember that made you happy in life. Hopefully, this will be a long list.
  2. Now highlight those items on your list which involve a skill.
  3. Assign a job-type designation to each of the highlighted items.
  4. Next rank each of the highlighted items in terms of happiness with #1 being the greatest happiness and #2 the next greatest happiness and so on.
  5. Now rank each of the highlighted items in terms of income potential with #1 being the highest income and #2 being the next highest and so on.
  6. Total the two columns. The lowest scores represent your main purpose in life.

Here is an example:

This is a guide for selecting that job which will give you the greatest chance for happiness. Pilot each job for six months. You will know that you found your main purpose in life when your job does not feel like a job at all. You will know when time flies by and before you know it the day is over. You will know when you keep making more and more money at your job. You will know when you are happy.


I love you very much,




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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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