Master Log 09: Chapter One – The Purpose of the Study

and the Significance of my Life

In June I will have to hand in my Master thesis and final project. Here I keep a diary on my progress and show how certain techniques are applicable in non-academic life.

In my final thesis, chapter 1 is supposed to express the significance of the study that I am about to conduct. I had to contextualize my work within the broad body of research and offer a bit of an overview over the whole paper.

Sub headlines are Purpose and Significance of the Study. Simply speaking, that is asking why I do it and why it matters. That means I have to present the problem, the research questions guiding my work and how the whole thing adds to a broader discussion and benefits potential future readers and science altogether.

Formulate a question and establish your purpose

I already struggled with the question. You need to know what you are looking for to start searching. It’s the same in everyday life: If I don’t know my problem, my question, my quest, I will end up floating purposeless through the day, just as I will end up rambling throughout my study without really saying anything. You don’t necessarily have your life purpose up and ready to be productive, but your work and struggle will have more meaning if you know what you are doing it for.

The purpose of the study is to pose that question. It is not compulsory to answer it! Therefore, the life purpose translates to pursuing the question, staying curious and keeping the quest in mind.

Your context

Just as my tiny little study doesn’t spring out of the blue, our lives are influenced by other lives and circumstances. In my paper, I need to rely on earlier studies. They help me and pave the way to my own work. The important thing is to mention that, to not claim the fame for myself but to cite other peoples’ works and reference them, honour them in the end.

Likewise in my daily life, I try to keep in mind that there are others who have influenced me and still do. It’s tempting to think my life and work are original but it’s healthier to acknowledge the fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today without, say, my mum, Astrid Lindgren, my school teacher and Karl Marx, to mention just a few.

Make your life significant

My study doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t need to answer all humankind’s questions and finally present a solution to an unhackable daily life problem. It’s not a must to win the Nobel Prize with it. It doesn’t even have to be interesting, it may easily vanish unread in historical dust. The crucial thing is: It must be significant. Not to world history and humankind, but to myself. I should create something that is important to myself. That is easier said than done. But now that I have to write it to finish the Master course, I can as well make it my own and make it important.

It’s the same with life itself: Now that I happen to be here on this planet – why not make the most of it by living a significant life? That doesn’t mean winning an award or becoming the next best superheroine. I find significance in people’s comments to my writings, for example, or when they ask me for help or my humble opinion, when somebody says I am inspiring, and when I have created something I am proud of.

And that doesn’t exclude days that I simply spend in bed reading and eating chocolate. Even those are significant to me, because I deliberately decide to be a little bit insignificant for a while.

What’s your pupose? And what’s your context? Share them in the comments!

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