What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Do you have purpose?
Perhaps you want to be an influential thinker, or build a successful business or be a dedicated parent. Whatever your purpose, one thing is certain: purpose is essential to quality of life. Purpose shifts focus away from the self to something bigger and more important than you. Purpose enables you to look beyond trivialities of the self and instead focus on the bigger picture of life.
Humans are searching for meaning in a complex and confusing world. Purpose gives you a role in the world. Purpose creates meaning in life.
Purpose provides perspective on the trivial.
Purpose provides meaning in a sea of chaos.
Purpose can be imposed from the outside or derived from the inside. The purpose of your youth was prescribed by society: schooling. Attend class, study, take exam, and repeat. Lesson by lesson, course by course and grade by grade you climbed the rings of compulsory education.
And then one day you graduate. Upon accepting your diploma, this external source of purpose vanishes, as does the path beneath your feet. You glance around, but find no one and nothing. Just you.
For the first time in your life, there is no clear purpose to guide your actions. For the first time in your life, you are in charge of defining your purpose. Rather than depend on societal and familial cues, you must look within.
Purpose from within will guide your feet. So, where will you go?
Caminante, no hay camino
This transition in life, from the prescribed to the unchartered, reminds me of words penned by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado:
Caminante, son tus huellas el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino, y al volver a la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar.
Wanderer, your footstep are the path, and nothing more.
Wanderer, there is no path; the path is made by walking.
Walking creates the path, and upon glancing back
You see the path that you will never retrace.
Wanderer, there is no path, only waves in the sea.
As you enter 2017, take a moment to consider your purpose. Is your purpose well-defined or does your purpose seem elusive? Purpose acts as a compass leading you on a meaningful journey. A lack of purpose leads to inactivity and inactivity leads to illness of mind and body.
Whatever your purpose, pursue it with passion.
New Year's Resolution Success
New Years is an opportunity to awake to shortcomings of the past year and affirm newfound commitment to improve behavior. Rather than set yourself up for yet another year of failed resolutions, follow these four easy steps to dramatically increase your likelihood for success:
1. Consider your purpose
Before thinking of a resolution, first consider your purpose on this earth. How can you make a positive contribution to the world beyond yourself? By educating, by helping, by leading, by thinking, by questioning, by performing? Purpose is your life force and the key to a rich quality of life.
2. Make it specific
Now that you understand your purpose, consider specific steps to facilitate this role. An ambiguous goal is unapproachable. Be explicit by creating measurable goals. Track your progress over time. Are you on target to achieve your goal or do you need to work harder?
Instead of "Losing weight" consider "Losing 10 pounds in two months"
Instead of "Be more successful in business" consider "Growing revenue at a rate of at least 20% per quarter"
Instead of "Be more mindful" consider "Meditate for 5 minutes every morning"
3. Write it down
Writing down goals dramatically increases your chance of success. Translating thoughts into words on paper makes your goal more real. Place this paper somewhere you will see it: on your fridge, door or mirror. You will be reminded of your goal each time you see this paper, further increasing the likelihood of success.
4. Seek accountability
Accountability is HUGE. Tell your partner, your friend or your child about your goal. Or, make a public declaration via social media; let your community know about your goal. Invite others to check in with you and monitor your progress. The proof is clear: simply knowing that someone will check in on your progress will influence you to stick to your goal.