Professor Eugene Kennedy said, “There may be nothing sadder than people who spend their lives talking about what might have been.” He’s right. His observation about purpose correlates perfectly with the research.
Dr. Richard Leider interviewed scores of people over the age of 65 to discover the key lessons they had learned. There were three lessons that invariably led to their happiness, health and success … lessons that you and I can and should apply to our lives.
The first two were PLAN YOUR LIFE and TAKE A RISK.
But the third lesson was the most important one. These older folks said you’ve got to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. You’ve got to make a difference, somehow, somewhere, with someone. You must live a life that matters, that makes a contribution.
In other words, you must have a purpose and you must live out your purpose.
Of course, you may not have given much thought to this topic. So let me show you how. Read on.
1. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Purpose.
It’s so powerful that your purpose (or lack of one) will make every aspect of your life, career and relationships better or worse.
Just look at the research. Back in the 50’s, Stanford University found that 80% of the students knew why they were there. They knew what they wanted out of life and they had a clear purpose for their lives. However, by the 1980’s, fewer than 20% of the students knew why they were in college and had no idea what difference they wanted to make in the world.
Is that a big deal? You bet! Stanford concluded that the loss of purpose in students contributed to a huge rise in the student suicide rate. Without a clear purpose in mind, life lost a lot of its meaning.
The good news is you don’t have to live that way. That’s why I spend a fair amount of time in my Journey to the Extraordinary program on purpose. I want you to know how to clarify your purpose and then live it to the fullest.
You can join me at the next Journey, which will be in Minneapolis on May 4-5, 2017 if you like – just click here for more information.
Of course people always wonder if the Journey is really worth their time. C. Sriniwas Rao, Human Resources Advisor at GPIC, says, “When I came to the Journey I knew that it would be good but didn’t expect it to be ‘THIS GOOD.’ It’s wonderful.”
And others wonder if the Journey is really worth the money. Subrena Robinson, a Service Manager at the largest automobile insurance company in the U.S., says: “Awesome. You must attend this session. It helped me better understand myself, my significant other, and my coworkers. Awesome investment in me.”
Once you grasp the power of purpose, you will start to move toward your purpose when you …
2. Apply a Positive Focus to the Present.
There’s an old ditty that says:
“As you go through life, brother,
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut,
And not upon the hole!”
I’m sure you know some people who focus on the hole and I’m sure those are the same people who live a life that is devoid of purpose.
It’s like the person I saw last week. He was well-dressed, driving an expensive car, with a bumper strip that read, “Life is a bitch, then you die.” How sad!
Or it’s like the person who was sent to a seminar by her company. The trip was paid by the employer; the hotel was very nice, and the training was excellent. But this person’s only comment about the entire experience was the fact that the chairs in the training room were uncomfortable.
I’m sure they were. But her focus on the uncomfortable chairs kept her from celebrating the rest of the trip and actually learning something that could have helped her. How pathetic!
By contrast, when you focus on the positive, when you are driven by a positive purpose, you not only make life better for yourself as well as for others. And you can always find something positive.
This became especially apparent to me this last spring when I spent a day at the WWII Nazi concentration camp known as Auschwitz. One of the Jewish prisoners had scratched these words on a wall: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I do not feel it. I believe in God even when He is silent.”
Despite his horrific conditions, this person’s purpose (or set of beliefs) made life a bit more tolerable for himself. But he also inspired hundreds of thousands of people who have read his words ever since.
3. Use a Promising Vision of the Future.
One boxer had a hard time doing that. In his first fight, he was floored in the second round by a powerful punch. With glazed eyes, he tried to look up from the mat. “Let the referee count,” yelled his trainer. “Don’t get up until eight.”
The fighter nodded and replied weakly, “What time is it now?”
He didn’t have a promising vision of the future.
But Tom Layton does. At 101 years of age, he has won several medals at the Senior Olympics and he’s a man of great joy. When asked for his secret, he said, “I don’t look at my life as behind me.”
In other words, you’re never too old to get a purpose and have a promising vision of the future.
So get a purpose, if you don’t already have one. Focus on making a difference, somehow, somewhere, with someone.
Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 867 – Releasing the Power of Purpose in Your Life and Work