How do we build lives of purpose and meaning? You and I have one life to live. There are no mulligans, do overs, or rewinds. Yesterday is gone and the only things that matter are in front of us. But most people leave their lives completely up to chance. They know very little about the most important principles that will help them live a purposeful, fulfilling life.
We don’t mean to live this way. We just don’t know what else to do. Sadly, I have lived this way for years. We don’t know how to be intentional about our lives and we don’t know what to focus on. Our default is a life ‘up for grabs’ to the highest bidder. So what’s the highest bidder?
Pain, busyness, and reactive living.
For some, just the thought of stopping to take an honest look is painful. We are disappointed with ourselves and we don’t like what we see. It reminds us of wasted time. Time we wanted to spend with those we love most, time doing the things that were in our heart but we neglected. We all get trapped in the disappointment of past failures and choose the path of avoidance. It’s just easier.
Our lives are filled with constant activity. We are overwhelmed by the swirl of must do’s, schedules, and phone calls. Our brains feel completely scrambled so we ignore our deeper needs and hope that somehow, they will just work themselves out.
The urgent clouds our mind so we run to our distractions.
We’ve all been there so don’t lose hope. I have GREAT NEWS for you. All of this has a remedy. Choosing to make a shift in 3 key areas will have profound impact in your life. You can a person that no longer leaves their life to chance and live for the moments and activities that define what is most important.
Missing first steps
Get this clearly in your mind: every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. The real question is, “Are you saying yes to what matters most?” Pain and regret come from saying yes to what doesn’t matter.
I will make you this promise: YOUR BEST IS YET TO COME. So let’s start making the changes that create the kind of life you really want to live. The first thing you have to focus on are your values.
Let me help you as much as I can in a blog post. When I do one on one coaching with clients, I take them through this process I’m about to share a with you.
Purpose and Meaning
1. Values (The Why)
Until you know your values, you really don’t know what you are living for. You are speaking with someone else’s voice and living with someone else’s script. It’s your voice that we want to hear!
The first step is inward. According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, The Leadership Challenge, “You must discover a set of principles that guide (your) decisions and actions. You have to comprehend fully the deeply held beliefs – the values, standards, ethics, and ideals – that drive you.”
My values are: Faith, Family, Freedom, Hope and Vulnerability. 3 years ago I was violating several of my values. They weren’t clear to me then and I suffered incredible inner turmoil. Today, these values are crystal clear to me. They guide my decisions…big and small. Learning to live with this clarity has transformed me into a person with laser focus on what matters most. It’s also what prompted our move to Europe.
2. Vision (The What)
Less than 3% of people live out of a personal vision. Your vision is the driving force of the future you want to create.
If I asked you to show me the vision you are basing your entire life on, could you do it? If you cannot articulate your vision you are leaving your life to chance and whims.
Thomas Edison had a vision that there would be light in the darkness. Nelson Mandela had a vision to end apartheid and racism. What’s your vision? What is the uniqueness you bring to the world? It doesn’t need to be earth-shattering it just needs to burn inside you. What is it? Why will the world be a better place because of your life? How will you change the lives of those around you?
Do some soul searching about your passion and what really matters to you. Write it down, refine it, and look at it every single day.
“Where there is no vision, people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
3. Strategic Goals (The How)
There are no Google maps to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. You need a plan and a set of strategic goals to help you move to where you want to be.
To help illustrate this let me introduce you to a simple, but effective model called, “The Here, There Path.” “Here” is where you are currently standing. You have your values and you have the present. “There” is where you are going – it’s your vision. The “path” is how you’re going to get there. These are your strategic goals.
Simply put, you need to think about how you are going to accomplish your vision. If your vision is to write a book, you need a strategic goal to write 500 words a day. If your vision to be the most incredible father you can be, then one of your strategic goals could be to plan an adventure, a date, or a coffee every single week/month with each of your kids. These are examples of course…the important thing is that we don’t just have a dream but that we have steps to implement.
Here is a picture of what I have in front of me every day. The vision stays the same except for some refining. My values are consistent. The strategic plan/vital few are what I am focusing on every day to help me accomplish my vision – and they change depending on what I need to accomplish to further my vision.
I strongly encourage you to create something similar for yourself. DO IT NOW. This is too important to wait. If you’re not sure exactly what to do, it’s better to create something that isn’t perfect than nothing at all.
If I can help you in any way please send me an email: email@example.com.
Believing in you and believing in your ability to create the kind of future you’ve always wanted for you and your family. You are amazing and don’t ever let anyone tell you anything different!
For more about Values, read, “Who You Are is More Important than What You Do.”
For more about Vision, read, “Stop Short Changing Yourself and Create a Meaningful Life,” and, “Making Meaning Out of Your Mess – 4 Things I learned While Shipwrecked.”