Living Your Life on Purpose
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
-John F. Kennedy
Does anyone ever ask you about your plans for the future? When asked about where you see yourself in five years, how do you answer? Do you ever reflect about your purpose? Do you see your future and your purpose interconnected? I was on a call with Brian Moran from “The Twelve Week Year” a couple of weeks ago and he asked the following question “How are you connecting the life you want to live with what you do Monday through Friday”? This question truly caused me to pause and reflect about my own life as I grappled with the question. One of the things I like most about this question is the connecting of both personal and professional goals so that we are working on them simultaneously.
The first step in the 12 Week Year process is to establish your professional and personal visions for yourself. We have discovered in working with leaders that this step can sometimes be difficult because we do not take the time to think about what we really want. Instead we seem to follow a course of action in our lives that feels comfortable without having to rock the boat. Moran suggests that vision is critical to planning because it is your “why” for what you are doing and it becomes the guidepost along the way. A challenge that many experience when creating their vision of their new life is that what they are envisioning may seem impossible because it is not currently happening in their lives. Moran encourages us to shift from impossible thinking to possible thinking by not asking ourselves how something will happen but rather asking what if something could happen. In this simple exercise we give ourselves permission to entertain possibilities creating desire and passion for the possibilities to manifest.
Other resources are available for you as you consider living your life from a place of purpose. As discussed in earlier blogs I have participated with the Human Performance Institute’s program on energy management which can be found in “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr. As part of this program, participants determine an ultimate mission and then align physical, emotional, mental and spiritual behaviors with this mission. Questions used by the Human Performance Institute to surface ultimate mission include; what are your deepest values; how would you define success in your life; and what makes your life really worth living? As with the visioning process in the 12 Week Year, our ultimate mission becomes our north star as we navigate through life and answer the questions about whether our activities and behaviors are aligned with what matters most to us.
Another resource for discovering your purpose can be found in Ken Robinson’s book “Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life.” What I like about Ken’s process is that it encourages us to move beyond limited thinking and what others have told us we “should” do or be into what truly inspires passion inside of ourselves. Robinson challenges readers to answer questions such as; what aspects of your life engage you most and which engage you the least; do you know what direction you want to move in; and what would it be like to do that you haven’t tried yet? Additionally, he devotes chapters to answering questions about attitude, loving what you are doing and truly knowing what you are good at all of which come together like a kaleidoscope pattern which is unique for every individual.
Engaging in the work of discovering our passions and what we are truly committed to can be both freeing and challenging at the same time. These concepts of freedom and challenge are sides of the same coin. In order to be truly free of our own limitations and others views of where we can go, we have to challenge ourselves to seek out answers to the questions posed in this blog. Hendricks in “The Big Leap” shares that we live in zones and can be captured by the allure of the zone of excellence. In this zone, we can be incredibly successful, comfortable and safe and something is calling to us. When we move out of this zone into our zone of genius, we move into our passions and what drives us as human beings. It is sometimes difficult to challenge ourselves to think bigger because there is definitely a change that results from this thinking along with trade-offs along the way.
Ralph Waldo Emerson provides us with a quote that I have on a coffee mug. It’s the first thing I see every day and reminds me of a person who has his or her purpose fully developed and integrated into life. “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
As you begin to reflect upon your purpose, vision, or ultimate mission have fun with it. Don’t make it work rather allow what is deep inside of you to emerge and then take baby steps towards making it your reality.
To Your Success!