Do you ever feel that no matter what you do it won’t be good enough?
Do you ever feel like your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone?
Do you ever wonder why you aren’t further ahead in some area of your life?
Do you ever wonder what you’re going to do with the rest of your life?
Or do you ever wonder why you’re here on Earth in the first place?
If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people feel like that. They may have enough to live on but nothing to live for.
Any one of those questions is a sign that you may be lacking a clear sense of purpose in your life or in your business. In fact, you may not even know what a purpose is let alone have one.
In its simplest form, purpose is all about vision. You can see where you want to go in your life and in your business. And you know why you want to go there.
You absolutely need a clearly defined purpose to get the most out of your life, work and relationships. Otherwise you tend to get by in life rather than experience the results of an awesome life.
I want you to experience awesomeness at home and at work. That’s the reason I’ve been writing these Tuesday Tips every week for 20+ years … to pass on some of the knowledge, wisdom, and education I’ve acquired.
Before I can show you how to discover or clarify your purpose, I must convince you that it’s worth it. So what do you get when you get your purpose right? Three things.
► 1. Persistence
As best-selling author Tim Connor says, “Purpose is the single most important motivator in a person’s life. It keeps you keeping on when all around you is caving in before your eyes–when nothing seems to work–when people have abandoned you and life seems to have forgotten your existence.”
That’s a very powerful declaration. But is that really the case?
The son of one of my friends, seven-year-old Brian Cole would say “yes”. As a first grader, he heard about a swim marathon to raise money for cancer research. He wanted to help because his cousin had died of cancer two years earlier.
So he went out collecting pledges. He asked people to pledge a certain amount of money for each lap he would swim. He told them he hoped to swim ten laps; the number his teacher had instructed him to tell his potential sponsors.
Come the day of the marathon, Brian jumped in the pool and started swimming. He swam up and down, back and forth, stopping for the first time when he completed 100 laps–and only then to put on his goggles because the chlorine was stinging his eyes. After putting on his goggles, he swam another eight laps.
Brian’s parents were astonished by their son’s accomplishment. But they were also a little embarrassed. How would they tell Brian’s sponsors that their son had swum 108 laps when they only expected to pay for a fraction of that?
So they called Brian’s sponsors to explain the situation and release them from their agreement. It was no problem. Almost everyone paid in full and some non-sponsors even threw in some money. Brian simply said he was “swimming for sick people. Maybe if someone had done this before, my cousin Mary would still be alive.”
That’s what purpose does for you. It gives you awesome persistence. Or to put it in more academic terms, clinical psychologist Dr. Bev Smallwood says, “When you have a significant ‘why,’ you’ll manage to find a ‘how’.”
If you want to discover and clarify your purpose, you would find great benefit in my MP3 album called Taking Charge. Check it out.
► 2. Meaning
The second thing you’ll get from purpose is meaning … meaning for your life or your business. As I tell my audiences and coaching clients, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
For most people, purpose and meaning are connected to making a difference in the lives of others. It’s not all about me-me-me. There’s a piece of it that is focused on others as well.
The world-famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, stressed that when he was giving a lecture on mental health and answering questions from the audience. One person asked him, “What would you advise a person to do if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?”
Most people expected him to say, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their amazement, he replied; “Lock up your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person. You’ll almost always get healthy.”
In other words, when you take the focus off yourself and your own little aches and pains, when you help someone, you’ll realize you’re not impotent. You can do something. You can make a difference. And that puts meaning into your life and health into your body and mind. Quite a payoff, I would say.
That certainly proved to be the case in the life of actor Kirk Douglas. After playing the strong, virile, tough guy in 82 films, he suffered a stroke in 1995. It made him totally helpless for a while.
Then in 1997 he found a new purpose, rebuilding school playgrounds that had become too old, dilapidated, or dangerous to use. He began raising money and even selling items from his personal art collection–including original paintings by Picasso and Van Gogh–to help schools with this project. He and his wife Anne appeared at the reopening of hundreds of playgrounds and with his new-found purpose and meaning, he lived to 103!
► 3. Direction
Finally, purpose will give you an awesome clear sense of direction. In fact, without a clearly defined purpose, you will be terribly scattered. You will spend your energy on a thousand different things, none of which will bring you truly outstanding results.
Purpose, on the other hand, tells you what’s important and what’s not important. You’ll know what direction to take. And you’ll make decisions consistent with your purpose.
As Roy Disney, the co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, said, “When your values are clear, decisions are easy.” To me that’s an incredible gift … to be able to make important decisions … easily.
Purpose keeps you moving in the direction of what’s important. As I told my audiences at the Food and Drug Administration, when you have a purpose, it’s like shooting arrows at a target. Not all the arrows hit the bulls-eye, but they all go in one direction.
Purpose might sound rather esoteric, academic, or even a little soft. Let me reassure you it’s not. Behind every successful person and every successful business is a clear, significant, and powerful purpose.
It’s time to discover and clarify your purpose so your life, work, and relationships are filled with the awesome results of Persistence, Meaning and Direction. I’ll give you more tips on how to do that next Tuesday and I’ll also be delivering a live webinar on this topic on February 17th at 4:00 pm Eastern Time. Save the date.