Live Like You Mean It

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. 

Helen Keller, blind/deaf author and lecturer (1880-1968)


You are driven by something. Your life, your work, and your relationships are all driven by something. Do you know what that is? Have you deliberately and consciously chosen that driving force? And are you managing that driving force … or merely living your life and doing your work by chance instead of on purpose?

My research tells me that most people have a very limited awareness of their purpose in life and even less awareness as to how to live their lives and do their work on purpose. That’s why I’m offering my 60-minute webinar on “SETTING YOUR SAIL: How To Define Your Purpose And Live Your Dreams” on September 26, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The registration will open next week, so there’s nothing you can do right now except put it on your calendar.

For the moment, I want you to think … to really think … about what is driving you. Along with Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” I think too many people are driven by the WRONG forces, and as a result, their happiness and success is limited to a fraction of what they could have and could experience. Are you driven by any of these forces?

1. Are you driven by guilt?

Many people are. They spend their entire lives running from regrets. They are haunted by their memories. And they allow their past to control their future. In fact, they even go so far as to punish themselves by sabotaging their own success.

I see it when parents are so consumed by work that they have very little time for their children. So their guilt causes them to buy their kids every conceivable toy … even if it destroys the family budget … to make up for the time they do not give their kids.

By contrast, Debbi Fields escaped the guilt complex she could have had and followed her dream instead. As a 13-year old she loved making chocolate chip cookies. The dream formed in her mind. She married at nineteen and decided to open her cookie business at age 20. Her husband Randy teased her … saying she’d be lucky to make $50 on her first day of sales in California. After a few hours with no sales, Debbi took the cookies to the customers on the street. They loved them and purchased $75 of cookies on her first day in business. Filled with purpose … instead of guilt for not experiencing immediate success in her new business … Debbi spent years of hard work on her dream. She sold Mrs. Fields Bakeries for $400 million in 1997, but she still remains the company’s spokesperson, an author and philanthropist.

2. Are you driven by resentment?

Many people hang on to their hurts, rehearsing in their minds over and over again what somebody else said or did. And these resentment-driven people “clam up” and internalize their anger or “blow up” and dump their anger on others. Both responses are unhealthy and unhelpful.

I see it when people resent the success of others. They mistakenly think that if others have more than they do, they are automatically “entitled” to have just as much … even though they may not have worked as long, worked as hard, or gotten as much education.

Healthy, purpose-driven people use the success of others to teach them what they have to do to earn their extra share of success. Resentment-driven people simply attack successful people as they stay stuck in their tiny worlds of envy and jealousy.

Janine Allis of Adelaide Australia could have been driven by resentment. After all, she and her husband had a wide variety of jobs to raise and support their four children. When Janine and her husband, Jeff, were on vacation in the U.S., she could have been resentful when she saw the popularity of fresh juice bars being sold everywhere. She could have thought, “How unfair that those people make so much money with such a simple little idea.”

But Janine was purpose driven instead. After much research, she and her husband opened their first store in Adelaide in 2000. They committed everything … even selling their house, to build their business and follow their dream. Today, with two hundred and fifty stores worldwide, they still have a 25% stake with their partners in the Boost Juice franchise, after selling off a part of the company for $65 million in 2010.

3. Are you driven by fear?

Maybe you’ve had some traumatic experiences in the past, some huge failures, or even an unhealthy boss that made life h_ll for you. Regardless of the cause, fear-driven people miss great opportunities because they’re afraid to venture out.

You see … it doesn’t matter where your fear comes from, it always serves as a self-imposed prison that keeps you from becoming what you want to be or even what God intends you to be. By contrast, Dr. Deepak Chopra says, “Purpose gives you fulfillment and joy and that can bring you the experience of happiness.”

I saw this all too often in my students when I was a professor at the University of Minnesota. I would have some brilliant, gifted undergraduate students who were more than capable of going on to graduate school, but the fear of failing grad school was so great that they made sure that would never happen. The night before the entrance exam, some of the students would go out and get drunk … ensuring a poor score on their entrance exam. That way they never got into grad school and would never have to say they did poorly in grad school.

What about you? Are you ever your worst enemy?

4. Are you driven by materialism?

For some people, their desire to acquire more has become the whole goal of their lives. This drive to always get more is based on the misconception that having more will make me more happy, more important, and more secure. But all three are untrue.

Possessions only provide temporary happiness … because no matter what we possess, we eventually get a little tired of it. We want something bigger, better, or newer. And if you look at the research, there is no connection whatsoever between self-worth and net worth. And security? Forget it. A lifetime of wealth can be lost instantly through a variety of uncontrollable forces.

If you only focus on success, there’ll never be enough. For example, you may be on vacation, walking through the Redwoods, thinking about how to make more money next quarter, even though your last quarter was your best one ever. When you focus on success, you’re consumed by all the tasks you have to accomplish. By contrast, when you are purpose-driven, you change from success to significance. You will focus on what’s most important in all parts of your life.

You have a purpose. You were created for a reason. You have a mission to fulfill and a dream to experience … and you will if you avoid the four driving forces I’ve just discussed. And you will get your purpose all figured out and working for you when you join me on September 26, 2013 for my webinar on “Setting Your Sail: How To Define Your Purpose And Live Your Dreams.”

ACTION:  Of the four destructive forces, which one drives you the most? What are you going to do about it?