Panning For Gold – A Story about Finding Your Purpose in Life
A frustrated young man went to see the wise man in his village.
“I don’t know what to do with my life. How do I find my purpose?” the young man
“Follow me,” said the old man.
Silently, they trudged together to a faraway river where they found dozens of
prospectors panning for gold.
“There are three types of prospectors here,” the sage said.
“What do you mean?” the young man inquired.
“There are those who strike gold straight away. Excited, they take their plunder,
cash it in and live comfortably for the rest of their lives. Then there are those who
pan for years. They know that there is gold here and they have seen others strike
it rich, so they persist until they too find the gold that they’ve been searching for.”
“What about the third type?” asked the young man?
“They are the individuals who get frustrated that they haven’t found what they are
looking for, so after a day, a week or a year or more, they give up, walk away and
never find gold.”
Slightly confused, the young man asked, “What has this got to do with finding my
“Aah yes, the age-old question.” the old man smiled and looked his companion in
the eye. “There are those in life who look for their purpose and seem to find it
almost immediately. From a young age they have a clear sense of purpose and
pursue their dreams with energy and enthusiasm. Some others have to look a bit
harder, perhaps for many years, but if they persist and keep looking, they will find
something to live for. Finally, there are those who want to know their purpose, but
they become frustrated with the search and give up too soon, returning to a life of
“Can everyone find their purpose?”
“Is there gold in the river?” The wise man responded.
“So, how do I find my own purpose?”
“But what if I want to find it quicker?”
“Son, there are no guarantees that you will be able to find it quickly, the only
guarantee is that if you give up and stop looking for it, you’ll never find it.”
The young man looked despondent, feeling that he had wasted his time with the
He felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder, “I can sense your frustration, but let me
assure you, if you can find your true calling in life, you will live with passion, make
the world a better place, be richer than you could imagine and feel as though the
very face of God Himself is smiling upon you. That may happen next week, next
year or in the years ahead, but the search will be worth it and your life will never
be the same again. So for now, your purpose is to find your purpose.”
“Oh, and there’s one other thing that I forgot to mention.”
“Just as those men and women need to get down to the river with a pan to find
their gold, so we need to remain active to find our purposes, we don’t find it sitting
around at home doing nothing.”
It was getting late, so the two men turned for home and began their long walk
back to the village.
As they walked, the young man was deep in thought about what he had just
learned, and the wise man smiled to himself, knowing that conversations like this
were an important part of living his own purpose.
Now, over to you.
Do you know your purpose for life?
Are you still looking?
Or have you given up?