The Blog

Finding Your Purpose

The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

~ Mark Twain  

Have you ever felt as if you’re walking aimlessly through life with no purpose or direction?  If you do, you’re not alone.

Many people struggle and fret over finding their true passion or purpose in life. The trouble arises when they may spend so much time worrying about it, that they forget to take action!

If this sounds familiar, and you’re ready to get on track with your life purpose, you might want to try the following 7 steps: 

1. Be clear on your “why”.

What’s driving you to discover your life purpose?  Make a list of all the reasons knowing this will improve your quality of life. It’s a good starting point, and it will keep you motivated when you encounter difficulties along the way.

2. Envision your ideal life.

Start with a description of what your typical day looks like when you’re living your purpose. Write down all the things that make you excited about your life, and include all aspects.  For example, what would you be doing now if you were financially free/enjoying excellent health/in a soulmate relationship?

3. Identify your special skills. 

Look back at the things you’ve done with ease or where you’ve excelled.  Also, pay close attention to what others say you’re good at.  This often reveals a special skill you didn’t realize you had. 

4. Get in touch with your core values.

Living a purpose driven life means being focused what matters most. When you begin to seriously think about this, you’ll probably notice that the most important things are rarely material. 

5. Celebrate and embrace ALL your gifts. 

Who says you can have only one purpose? You don’t have to limit yourself to doing one thing for the rest of your life. When you let go of this idea, you’ll open yourself up to opportunities that you may not have considered before. Go out and explore your many talents!

6.  Step out of your comfort zone.

Too often we procrastinate, pass up opportunities, compromise our health, and do everything except what’s best for us… all because we don’t like to feel pain or discomfort. Most people would rather feel discomfort than face their fears. 

Once you face your fears and get out of your comfort zone, however, that’s precisely when you’re most likely to find freedom and joy. You’ll get to know yourself better by expanding your mind and your abilities. 

7. Take time to reflect.

Meditation is a wonderful tool for self-discovery, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time sitting with your eyes closed in lotus position to find your purpose or passion. Set aside a few minutes every day to sit quietly and reflect on what makes you happy, what you want to do with your life and what kind of impact you want to have. In stillness, most of the answers will almost effortlessly be revealed to you. 

Don’t Look Back!

Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!

~ Genesis 19:17  

Don’t look back! This was the admonition the angels gave as they led Lot and his family out of the city of Sodom, just before God destroyed it in wrath.

In so many words, they were saying “Look forward. There’s nothing to gain by watching what happens behind you. Focus on your future and what is ahead of you.” Whatever happened to the city after Lot fled was no longer any of his business – and he couldn’t do anything about it anyway.

As we know of course, Lot’s wife wasn’t all that good at following directions. She couldn’t resist the temptation to look back and see what happened to the city she just left. And she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Why salt? Maybe it’s because too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease…who knows? The bottom line is, Lot’s wife shouldn’t have rejected the strict instructions about looking back. And neither should we.

The end of a calendar year is a traditional time for doing a life review, comparing our goals with our actual achievements, as we plan bigger and better things for the next 12 months.  Going over the past can indeed be a constructive exercise, as long as we don’t dwell there.  Getting stuck on what might have been, wasting energy trying to undo what was done, wallowing in regret or beating ourselves up over our shortcomings serves no useful purpose.  George Washington said, “We ought not to look back, unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors and for the purpose of profiting by dear bought experience.”  This timeless piece of advice is worth keeping in mind as we approach a new year full of opportunity and promise.    

The Luxury Of Not Enough Time

Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.

~ Jean De La Bruyere

For many of us, Thanksgiving isn’t over long enough to have finished the leftover turkey and trimmings before we find ourselves caught up in a new round of shopping, decorating and cooking for the Christmas holiday season. “Too much to do and not enough time to do it” is a familiar complaint at this time of the year.  But this cloud has a silver lining, according to author and creative writing teacher Randy Ingermanson (”the Snowflake guy”).  Here is what he wrote in a recent edition of his Advanced Fiction Writing e-zine:

When you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do in life:

·      You have a good reason to cut out the less-important stuff in your life without feeling one bit guilty.

·      Which forces you to think about what actually matters to you and what actually doesn’t.

·      And leads you to make a conscious decision about how much time you’ll spend on each of the things that actually matter, even though none of them will get “enough.”

·      But that means when you finally get a chance to start working on each thing that actually matters, you’ll be desperately eager to get rolling because you know you can’t waste a second because you’ve only got so many minutes today that you can do this thing that you care about so much.

·      And it ensures that when each time slot is up for the day, you’ll be thinking “I wish I had ten more minutes because I didn’t have all the time I wanted today,” instead of “I sure hated that last ten minutes because I had too much time on my hands today.”

·      Which means you’ll be ending every single time slot in your day “wanting more,” rather than ending it “wanting less,” which is probably the best way to stay excited day after day after day about the things that really matter most in your life.

·      And it also means that every day when you wake up, you’ll be gung ho to get rolling on all the cool and amazing things you can do today in the limited time you have to do them.

·      Which is not a bad way to live your life.

·      And that means that not having enough time is a luxury that makes your life better, not worse.

You don’t have enough time for everything you want to do in life.

I don’t have enough time for everything I want to do in life.

Aren’t we lucky?

More Or Less

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~ Anaïs Nin

For millions of people, life in the digital age is healthier, wealthier and happier…and also much more complex. Ever-increasing complexity is the curse of our time.  Hardly anything we interact with on a daily basis is immune – consider the IRS Tax Code, healthcare, banking, the legal system and telecommunications services, to name just a few examples.  Complexity is an intellectual pollutant that muddles our thinking, decision-making and learning, negatively impacts our productivity and disrupts our peace of mind.

More people have turned to “downsizing” as a way to remove complexity and confusion from their lives. The popularity of “tiny house” living is a good example of the trend toward simplicity.  In general, this is a positive pursuit.  Where I personally believe it goes a bit off the rails is when it tries to invalidate a basic force of nature – the drive to grow. 

The fact is there is no such thing as the status quo in the animal, mineral or vegetable world.  It’s either grow or die, and what seems like absence of change is only a balanced state between increase and decline.  More may not necessarily be better, but the desire for more is in our DNA. To consciously resist this urge to grow is to go against nature. That's a war humans will never win, and ends only one way for anyone who fights it.

The desire to be, do or have more doesn’t have to make your life more complex.  It's actually healthy for mind, body and spirit, as long as your desires align with your core values. The critical question to ask yourself is, "Does this reflect what I truly want, for the good of myself and others, rather than what someone or something outside of myself says I should want?”  If the honest answer is “no”, it may be time to seriously re-evaluate and change course.  But if you can say an unqualified "yes", go for what you want - and don't be afraid to go really big!  Know what you value most, make this your priority, and you can (and almost certainly will) enjoy abundance and simplicity in your life.

Uncreativity As Opportunity

From the withered tree, a flower blooms.

~Zen proverb

This past weekend’s change back to Standard Time means that evening falls earlier, making the days seem even shorter. It hits many of us with an almost irresistible urge to slow down and “hibernate”, causing a slump in our creative output.

We’re told that creativity is essential to our success and happiness. Creativity is certainly a blessing, and we should nurture it as much as possible. But no one, not even the greatest artists and innovators, can be inspired all the time. Every one of us has experienced those challenging “uncreative” moments in life. Most of the time we just sit around waiting for the lull to pass, unable to concentrate on our work, and often end up feeling worthless or guilty over being unproductive. 

But there’s really no need to beat ourselves up about this.  Feeling uncreative is a perfectly natural process. Once you accept the fact, you can take advantage of the mental “down time” to step away from your routine, do something different and recharge.

Just like the electronic devices we use 24x7, our bodies, minds and souls need to be recharged once in a while. A short vacation is a very effective remedy for uncreativity. If that isn’t possible, spending time with family, catching up with friends or just curling up with a good book can do the trick.

Uncreative moments are also an opportunity to reflect on your life path. Do you feel uninspired and unmotivated simply because you’re exhausted and need a break, or might there there a deeper reason?   Too many people spend a good deal of time living someone else’s dream, thinking it’s what they were meant to do, but knowing inside that their true potential lies elsewhere.  If you find yourself in this position, it may be high time to change course and do what your heart truly desires.

Remember that in the end, your happiness is completely in your hands.  If you believe in yourself enough to dream boldly, you’ll find renewed energy to think creatively and achieve brilliant success in all your goals.

Purpose, Passion And Profit

Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do. With such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.

~Vincent Van Gogh

Confucius is credited with first saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It’s all very romantic and inspirational – and it’s also something of a fairy tale. Turning what you love doing into a real world career involves more than simply converting your passion into a paycheck. While it’s a soul-satisfying and joyful experience much of the time, it certainly isn’t sunshine and roses every single day.

When something you love becomes your job, the way you relate to it fundamentally changes. The need for careful planning, discipline and attention to a host of mundane day-to-day tasks will always be there, no matter how much enthusiasm you bring to the enterprise. Focusing on making work not feel like ‘work,’ does little to help you tackle these facts of life. In fact, this strategy often magnifies any sense of overwhelm or frustration, and can leave you feeling disillusioned rather than inspired.

Choosing a career you love and living with passion begins with understanding what you value.  Consider what work means to you, what you want from it mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.  Do you desire the financial freedom to choose how, when and with whom you work? Is spending time with family and friends a priority? Do you want a less stressful, healthier lifestyle? You might discover what you’re passionate about by taking a trip to a place you find interesting. Be adventurous and go somewhere exotic, or just explore what there is to do in your own hometown.

Once you better understand your priorities and talents, have the courage to start building your dream right away, or as Joseph Campbell put it, “follow your bliss”.  It is often nothing more than our own fears that hold us back from choosing the life and career we love. Whether you're an employee or the boss of your own business, passion and connection with your core values will always play a critical role in feeling content, competent, valued, and inspired in your work.

Life Is Like A Cup Of Coffee

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

~ Matthew 6:25

The following is a story by an unknown author.  Please enjoy and share it.

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor.  Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.  Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen, and returned with a large pot of coffee.  He also brought an assortment of cups…porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal…some expensive, some plain looking, some exquisite…and told them to help themselves to the coffee. 

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.  In most cases it is just more expensive and can even hide what we actually drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee…the jobs, money and position in society are the cups.  They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.  Savor the coffee, not the cups!  The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.  They just make the best of everything. 

Live simply. Love generously.  Care deeply.  Speak kindly.

Exploring The Private Sea

Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade but of thought.  Every man is lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice.

~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

The stories of great explorers of history never fail to fascinate and inspire us.  By venturing into the unknown, over land and sea and even beyond the bounds of planet Earth, these courageous risk-takers opened up new worlds and immeasurably enriched our lives.

Exploration is not an enterprise for only a few adventurous souls, as the ancient philosophers of many traditions knew well.  The pursuit of self-knowledge was considered the most noble, and challenging, of human activities. According to the Greek writer Pausanias, the aphorism "Know Thyself" (Gnothi Seauton), was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Socrates expanded on this maxim, teaching that the unexamined life was not worth living. The Chinese master Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, “To know others is wisdom; to know one’s self is enlightenment.” And Proverbs 4:23 admonishes “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”

Thoreau echoes these sentiments in the concluding chapter of Walden:

If you would learn to speak all tongues and conform to the customs of all nations, if you would travel farther than all travellers,….even obey the precept of the old philosopher and Explore Thyself.  Herein are demanded the eye and the nerve.

To experience all that life has to offer, you must leave the shores you know and head for new horizons of personal growth and self-awareness. Without a willingness to take this risk, in spite of fear and uncertainty, you resign yourself to a life of mediocrity in a familiar port of call.

Pulling away from the dock and setting sail for the life of your dreams takes courage. Out beyond your comfort zone, you might encounter turbulent squalls and intimidating waves. But with each challenge you meet, you will be a step closer to discovering new people, new opportunities and a fulfilling life rich with possibility.

Your Most Expensive Habit

Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.

~W. Clement Stone

How much do you think fear has cost you? Go back five years and change your mindset. Take away all your fear of rejection and failure, and imagine living those five years forward in a different, less tentative way. Where would you be now? What would be happening with your finances and your relationships, your time freedom and physical health?

Fear can literally cost you cash. Even if you’ve found a measure of financial success, old fearful attitudes about money can still keep you from reaching your full potential.  For example, you might say you desire to be financially free, but the subconscious voice of scarcity and lack whispers, ‘It’ll make your life more complicated,’ or ‘You don’t deserve to be wealthy’ or ‘You don’t know enough’ or ‘God (or your mother or the government) wouldn’t approve.’  That negative voice may block you from recognizing and seizing on growth opportunities, and create a seemingly unbreakable glass ceiling on your income.

This ‘song’ never ends until you change the tune – by taking action. You first need to decide on something you want to do, and then simply go and get it done.  Don’t let fear of failure or of rejection stop you from implementing your plan. You will always face unknowns when doing something new. While those unknowns might seem scary, remember that no one ever knows absolutely 100% about everything in advance. The big Silicon Valley tech companies are always releasing updates for their products. If they were afraid of failing and waited until things were “perfect” before launching a product of any kind, they’d never release anything ever again.  Needless to say, they wouldn’t stay in business very long!

So you don’t need to know it all - you just need to know enough to start. You’ll learn the rest of what you need to know by taking action. The act of doing it will do more for your learning than endless planning and thinking about it ever will.

Comfortable Being You

"If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started."

~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Does this quote sound like something you've ever said or thought?

"I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here?"

One of the most accomplished and famous men of the 1960s made this statement.  Here's the rest of what he said:

"They've made amazing things. I just went where I was sent."

Surely we’ve all found ourselves in a group where we felt unqualified. The fact that Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, felt this as he stood at the back of an awards ceremony for scientists, artists and inventors proves that fears of our own inadequacy tend to afflict everyone.

Some of the most talented people convince themselves that they'd be seen as the imposter amongst the noble, if only the truth were known. It’s part of what psychologists call "imposter syndrome", and it's a very real problem.

The sad truth is that we identify with this negative paradigm way too often. Most of the time these thoughts aren't true – it’s just the devil in our heads talking. Believe that insidious voice, however, and it will hold you back from achieving your full potential.

Here are three simple strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome.

The first is to understand that you don't need to be the best in something to be a so-called expert. You can contribute value at any skill level.

Second, don’t compare yourself with anyone else. This was where Neil Armstrong went wrong. He compared himself with doctors and artists, saw their great work and felt inadequate. But he failed to realize they probably felt the same way each night as they stared at the moon.

Finally, make learning your lifelong mission. Those who suffer from imposter syndrome wrongly believe that the fortunate few are born with the traits that make them experts or the skills that make them rich. They’ve convinced themselves that they aren't so lucky, and so they don’t belong among the “elite”. It's not true.

Nothing that devil in your head says is true. If you want to succeed, shut him up. Be confident in the knowledge that you’ve done your best, and experience all the joy you deserve from your accomplishments.    

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