Facing 2019 with a Sense of Purpose

“I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose… When you connect with that purpose, and move forward with love and compassion, that’s when everything unfolds.“
― Ellen DeGeneres
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This year I choose to be the mountain, not the grain of sand!

I don’t know about you, but with the new year, my email was bombarded with suggestions about how to gain clarity this year and what to do to ‘unclutter’ and find peace. So as I meditated on what I want to focus on for 2019, what became clear for me was that it wasn’t how to unclutter or which new app I could buy to find peace, but instead I wanted to hone in on my purpose for this year. That sounds grandiose and overwhelming as I write it, but with so much ‘stuff’ out there, so much info and paths that I could take, I need to narrow my focus and check in with what really resonates for me.

Buddha has been quoted as saying:

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.

And this has been adapted and misquoted as:

Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.

I don’t think there would be many people who disagree that finding one’s purpose is essential in one’s life. And I think finding purpose in my mid to later life is much different than when I was younger. In youth, there was a sense of spaciousness, a sense that I could trial different pathways and see what I liked, what made me feel alive. These days, there is much less time to waste. I’m 61 (still young enough… but don’t want to waste the time I do have) and I feel more of a sense of urgency. As Bonnie Raitt so succinctly puts it:

Life gets mighty precious
When there’s less of it to waste

It’s not just that having a sense of purpose adds to one’s well being, although research shows that that is true. It’s more than that. Having a sense of purpose improves health, fulfilment, and can even help you live longer. In a nutshell, finding your sense of purpose has the potential to change everything!
So Ok, we can all agree, it’s an important mission. But it’s huge! How do we even start? Is there a signpost or light to follow?

Here is one interesting take on Purpose and how to find it. The founders of ConsciousED’s best advice is to ‘Follow Your Heart’:

The best advice I’ve ever gotten in my life is to follow my heart. I think of it like, there’s a guiding compass inside of me that always knows which direction to go. An inner voice that knows what’s right. I just need to tune into it and trust it.

I agree, that is great advice . . . but how exactly do we do that? I researched this and came across a lot of articles so tried to synthesise the info into the top 3 suggestions:

READ – The most common suggestion that came through is to read. Read as much as you can about as many things that interest you as you can. Read books by people that you admire, read about things that you are curious about. Books are so readily available; choose reading over digital distraction.

SERVE – So many studies suggest that service to others is one of the best ways to find a sense of purpose. Helping others is associated with a meaningful, purposeful life. In one study, Daryl Van Tongeren et al found that people, who volunteer and/or donate money, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives. Professor Anne Colby has researched and written about purpose and well being for many years. And she has found that one’s well being increases when one is purposeful beyond oneself.
There is significantly higher well being in people who were involved in pursuing beyond-the-self goals, compared to those who were pursuing other types of goals. In other words, engaging in prosocial goals had more impact on well being than engaging in non-prosocial goals.

CULTIVATE awe and gratitude. The research is clear, cultivating awe, and gratitude absolutely connects us to our sense of purpose. Several studies conducted by the Greater Good Science Center’s Dacher Keltner have shown that the experience of awe makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves—and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose. And research on gratitude consistently shows a correlation between feeling grateful and well-being and a stronger sense of purpose.
But it’s important that we don’t just plan and think about it, but to focus and take action!

“The dynamic process of aligning yourself with your life purpose requires energy and willpower: wind in your sails to move you forward, and a strong rudder to prevent being blown off course.”

I believe as Og Mandino puts it:

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.

So taking action . . . I decided that 2019 is my year to start and to focus on my next book. The idea scares me; I know how much energy the process of writing takes, and even more, the energy and work that is required getting the book out there. It is daunting, but I know it is a huge part of my purpose – to write and connect with others. And so I am committed to grow into that mountain, not shrink to a grain of sand, so I shall commit to this focus for this year.

I am curious, how shall you move toward your sense of purpose this year? What are you doing to grow into the mountain you are meant to be?

I’ll close with a powerful interview between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle – Life Purpose

I’d love to hear about your purpose for 2019. I really am curious – What are you doing to grow into the mountain you are meant to be?
And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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Finding Purpose in Life

When we align our thoughts, emotions, and actions with the highest part of ourselves, we are filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning. Life is rich and full. We have no thoughts of bitterness. We have no memory of fear. We are joyously and intimately engaged with our world. This is the experience of authentic power … when the personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul, that is authentic empowerment.”
– Gary Zukav
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A friend asked me recently what my life purpose is. She asked me glibly, almost as a joke, but I took it seriously. At sixty, I assume I ‘should’ know this. So I went home after that conversation and I did some research and some soul-searching.

I thought of Gary Zukav’s quote:

When we align our thoughts, emotions, and actions with the highest part of ourselves, we are filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning.

What Drives Me?

My first question for myself was what drives me, what is truly a driving force behind my actions. I thought of my children of course. My love for them is a driving force in every area of my life. But I drilled deeper, what else is a driver in my life. What gets me excited and passionate. When does my heart race? When am I filled with enthusiasm and meaning?

Write and Explore

I started journaling about it, exploring and drilling down. I wrote about what gets me excited; when do I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do in this life? And I did some research too. I discovered several good articles about the subject. In Psychology Today, I found a good article, entitled: Five Steps to Finding Your Life Purpose. And a wonderful article in Greater Good called: How to Find Your Purpose in Life. Another helpful site was Jack Canfield’s Finding Life Purpose.

Create a Life Purpose Statement

After identifying a few drivers in my life, then I focused on what I love to do, and also what comes easily for me. I like communicating with people, I like to talk with people about real and meaningful subjects. I read in one article that it was helpful to create a Life Purpose Statement. This statement came eventually after thinking about what I love to do and why I love to do it:

“Inspiring and empowering people to become the best version of themselves, contributing love and joy to the world.”

I want to contribute love and joy to the world, not just by being the best I can be but by inspiring others.

Service

I also deeply feel that true life purpose comes through love and service. So I thought about who I want to serve and how I can best do that. Well, I love to write and to communicate and connect with people, so I write articles and share what I am learning. And I’ve started running workshops online for anyone looking for a bit of inspiration.

Follow Inner Guidance

And I continue to check in on my inner guidance. I make sure I take time every single day to meditate and go inward to ask for guidance.

I ask for clarity on direction, and when I get direction, I follow it. I think of Julia Cameron, she describes this guidance as her Marching Orders. I try to follow my guidance even when I feel awkward or under-confident. I was ‘instructed’ to start the online workshops one day when I was swimming. I had no idea how to do it, and felt embarrassed trying. My negative inner-chatter was rampant. But it felt very clear that this was an important part of my path, so I persevered. Trusting my inner guidance is crucial as I move toward my highest purpose, because my ego and fear can easily steer me off the path.

Cultivate Awe, Gratitude and Altruism

And finally, in my pursuit of life purpose, I do as Greater Good suggests, I cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism.

“Certain emotions and behaviors that promote health and well-being can also foster a sense of purpose — specifically, awegratitude, and altruismSeveral studies conducted by the Greater Good Science Center’s Dacher Keltner have shown that the experience of awe makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves — and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose. Of course, awe all by itself won’t give you a purpose in life. It’s not enough to just feel like you’re a small part of something big; you also need to feel driven to make a positive impact on the world. That’s where gratitude and generosity come into play. “It may seem counterintuitive to foster purpose by cultivating a grateful mind-set, but it works,” writes psychologist Kendall Bronk, a leading expert on purpose. As research by William DamonRobert Emmons, and others has found, children and adults who are able to count their blessings are much more likely to try to “contribute to the world beyond themselves.” This is probably because, if we can see how others make our world a better place, we’ll be more motivated to give something back. Here we arrive at altruism. There’s little question, at this point, that helping others is associated with a meaningful, purposeful life. In one study, for example, Daryl Van Tongeren and colleagues found that people who engage in more altruistic behaviors, like volunteering or donating money, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.”

What I’ve come to realize at sixty years old is that finding my life purpose is a life-long journey. I can see that I need to pause and re-evaluate often, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed and that’s OK. But as I review Zukav’s quote as encouragement, I am reminded:

As I align my thoughts, emotions, and actions with the highest part of myself, then I am filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning; then my life feels rich and full; then I am joyously and intimately engaged with my world. Here I find the experience of authentic power … when my personality comes fully to serve the energy of my own soul, then I find authentic empowerment.

I’ll close this post with a wonderful interview with Gary Zukav entitled

Words of Wisdom – Defining Authentic Power

I’d love to hear about your search for purpose and finding authentic power.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.