A few years ago, I wrote a book entitled, Living on Purpose! Keys to Discovering Your God-Given Destiny. Now, don’t let the title of the book fool you! Whether you’re religious or not, the principles of Living on Purpose are applicable for anyone trying to achieve a better life than the one they currently have.
Living on Purpose captured my personal account of being a single mother, working well enough to support my son and myself but not thriving in a career of my choice. Through the power of visioning and goal setting, and living intentionally, what is known today as mindfulness, I was able to transform my life into one of purpose and direction; one that enabled me to take myself off of autopilot and live each day as I wanted it to be – which is fully aware and present at any given time.
My process was a spiritual one however, the steps are very practical. Just like learning a new skill, living on purpose requires your full, undivided attention and a desired end result that motivates you to keep going in spite of the challenges and obstacles you will face in the course of, well, life. Living on purpose is like climbing a ladder, it requires taking a few steps before reaching the top – which is a lifelong process:
- Passion. First, identify what you’re passionate about – whether it’s at work, in the community, something to do with your family, an interest you have, you get the picture. Passion is an intense emotion, either positive or negative, that can fuel you and get you up and out of bed in the morning, even on the days you don’t feel like it. Passion is what causes you to immerse yourself in a task and forget about everything else. It’s something you’d be willing to do if money (you wouldn’t get paid), time (it doesn’t matter how young or old you are), education (whatever education you have is perfectly fine) or anything else weren’t an issue. You could pursue your passion and have nothing or no one else to worry about. What would you do if you had no limitations?
- Vision. Once you identify your passion, your next step is to create a vision of what living your vision looks like. There’s a proverb that says, “Without vision, the people cast off restraint.” Meaning that if you don’t have a vision, then you have nothing to guide you and you are subject to living your life haphazardly, without direction, meaning or purpose. Take a few moments, close your eyes and picture your desired life. What does it look like? What are you doing? How old are you? Who is with you? What is the feeling you get when you envision this future state?
- Mission. Next you have to identify your mission which is your goal. My daughter envisions being a famous make-up artist. Well to see that vision become a reality, there are certain things she’ll have to do and one of the first is, setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time bound. What goals can you establish that will help you to realize your vision?
- Direction. After setting your goals, it’s time to think through how to accomplish them. In coaching, I call it an Action Plan. Are you ready to take action?
- What are the specific steps you will take?
- What will you do when you don’t know what to do?
- How will you overcome obstacles?
- What resources, time, treasures and trusted advisors do you need to employ?
- Execution. Finally, you’ve identified your passion, you have envisioned your desired future, you have identified your mission and you have clear direction. Now you have to execute your plan. This is where most plans fall apart. Find someone who is going to hold you accountable for your plan, a coach or a close friend, that will ensure you stay committed.
When you take the right steps, you allow yourself to live a life with more purpose, focus and meaning. Life will happen and plans will shift, but if you commit to living on purpose, you’ll more easily be able to get back on track.
By Dr. Julianna Hynes
Julianna Hynes, PhD is an Executive Coach in the San Francisco Bay Area who is passionate about helping women refine their leadership skills, allowing them to live a more fulfilling, successful and purposeful life.
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