“Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.” ~Dr. Seuss
After my last blog post, I shared how excited I am about having a clearly defined purpose because it helps me decide where to go. Dr. Seuss is correct that I get to choose the direction and my purpose helps me set the course. If you don’t have a clearly defined purpose, I highly recommend you read the book The Power of Purpose by Richard Leider or go to his Life Reimagined site and click on the option to Create Your Purpose Statement. The site is free.
The first thing you will do on the Life Reimagined site is select from a list of things you are good at like creating things, instructing people, empowering others or researching things. Next, you decide on the passions that inspire you like the outdoors, the arts, education, making things or your well-being. Then you determine the values that you feel most strongly about like compassion, relationships, health, curiosity or spirituality. Finally, you decide on the things you want to focus on in life including wanting to be healthy, have more peace in your life, being challenged, fulfilled or a multitude of other things. The lists of choices in the program are quite extensive. After you make your initial selections, you narrow down to your top three in each category and you end up with a purpose statement. The purpose statement the program created for me, based on my answers, was “I want to use my gifts for Creating Things, Awakening Spirit and Writing Things and passions for Outdoors, Education and The Arts to create an impact on Personal Growth, My Friends and My Spiritual Group because I value Spirituality, Relationships and Health. This will help me to Be present, Be creative and Be purpose-driven.”
That purpose statement really does sum up my beliefs and intentions, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue for me, nor was it easy for me to remember. But, I used the ideas and concepts from the book and website to create an easy to remember purpose statement that drives me. To sum everything up in a few words, I determined that my purpose is for personal growth to positively impact others. I can use that purpose statement to make decisions. I can ask myself if an activity or event will help me with my intention for personal growth or will make a positive impact on others. I am a person who uses name mnemonics to remember things. For example, as a kid in science class, I used ROY G BIV to remember the colors in the rainbow. So, I decided to create a mnemonic for the words I chose from the Life Reimagined website as part of my purpose. I know that exploration and learning new things is part of my personal growth. So my mneomic for personal growth is NEW PLACES and the letters stand for:
The second part of my purpose statement is about positively impacting others. One of the things that I feel I do best in life is teach, and so I used the mneumonic TEACHER for the ways I want to impact others. The letters stand for:
So, my purpose is easy to remember: Personal growth (NEW PLACES) to positively impact others (TEACHER). The reason for sharing this with you is not because my purpose is something to emulate, because it is not. The reason for this blog is to inspire you to read great books and utilize tools on finding your purpose in a way that works for you. The important thing is to clearly delineate your purpose statement. You have unique gifts and you must determine how you will share them with others. In Richard Leider’s book The Power of Purpose, he shares research by Dr. Majid Fotuhi that shows people with a strong purpose in life protect their brain against cognitive aging and are more likely to stay sharp in their seventies and eighties. Take the time and effort to create a purpose statement so you can have a meaningful life, share your gifts and make an impact on your world. I can't wait to hear about the Places You'll Go with a clearly defined purpose!
Today is your day, how do you choose where to go and what to do?
If you have a purpose, what is it? If you don't have a purpose, what will you do to create one?
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every day prior to meditation, I ask the four soul questions:
Recently, I was watching a Pinkcast by one of my favorite authors, Daniel Pink. Daniel Pink shares information on a variety of topics in a video that is about one minute in length and it usually impacts my life. He was interviewing Richard Leider and the topic was Discover Your Purpose (in one minute) With the Napkin Test. Okay I thought, I want to know my purpose and if I can l learn it in a minute that would be awesome. I didn’t establish my purpose in a minute, but after reading Leider's book The Power of Purpose 3rd edition, answering the questions on the site Life Reimagined (it's free) and spending time in silence and stillness, I established a purpose statement that I am excited about and will provide direction and help me decide what to say Hell Yes to in my life (another Pinkcast).
In the Napkin test you reflect on the question, “What gets you up in the morning?” This was a powerful question for me, as I had never looked at my purpose from that perspective. But, I realized the answer for me was creativity. I love being creative and I am fully engaged when I am writing a lesson plan that inspires others, painting a picture that evokes emotions, writing a blog that empowers readers on their own path, capturing an image with a camera and artistically manipulating it to tell a story or ingeniously arranging the letters to make a word on a Scrabble board. I lose track of time when I am in the creative realm. This is my gift. Your gift will probably not be creativity. But, I encourage you to spend some quiet time reflecting on what gets you up in the morning, and list your gifts, passions, and values.
The next crucial part of the purpose statement is how you use your gift to serve others. This is probably the part that I struggled the most with because I was under a false belief that I needed to serve others in a much larger magnitude than is the actual reality. The overachiever in me sees people with a purpose like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Buddha and I know that my life and actions don’t compare. But, I realized it is not about comparing myself to others, but doing the best I can with my unique talents to impact others. I do have gifts and I do share them in my own distinctive way with the people in my life. People call me and email me asking for advice. I offer meditation classes in a safe and nurturing space. I write a blog and share my mistakes and learning’s for others to learn from and apply to their life, I create artwork and photographs that bring joy. My work might not be on the scale of Mother Teresa, but to those people that I impact, it makes a difference to them. It is like the Starfish parable where after a storm a boy is throwing starfish back into the ocean before the sun comes up and kills them and a man tells him that there are thousands of stranded starfish and that he won’t make a difference. The boy picks up another starfish and throws it into the sea and says, “I made a difference to that one.” We each have a gift and if we share it with others, we will make a difference to those whose lives we touch. Leider tells us that the default purpose is to Grow and Give. May you grow each day and give your gifts to others and live your purpose!
What gets you up in the morning?
How do you share your gifts and passions with others?
“Our spirit has an instinct for silence. Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe.” ~ Anne D. LeClaire
April is the month that I nurture my soul through extended meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, spiritual reading, and coming to the silence within. It is during these times of silence that I actually hear more. Yes, I hear the sounds of nature, birds chirping, the wind, traffic in the distance, but it goes beyond the auditory sounds, as I hear my inner guru and intuition. Once I let go of the busyness of everyday life and slow down, I connect to a deeper wisdom.
Just the other day, I was on a walk and I heard the inner voice that said to stop and take a picture of the grasses on the side of the road. These grasses weren’t anything special; they were just a small clump surrounded by dirt and rocks. During my normal daily life, I either wouldn’t have heard the inner voice or I would have ignored it thinking I need to get home and accomplish the things on my To Do list. But, when I come from this place of stillness and silence, I choose to listen to the voice and so I sat on the ground and got stickers in my butt and then saw that the sun was magnificently shining through the grasses and I captured the photo pictured at the top of the blog. On another walk, I heeded the call to go in front of a furniture store and there was this glorious flower that I had never seen before and I photographed it. Then I took my camera out during my journaling time in the backyard and one of my power animals, the hummingbird, came to a nearby flower and I was able to catch it on film (okay the cloud). In addition to taking photographs of the hummingbirds, I just sat, watched and experienced them. One of the things I had never noticed before were their amazing tiny little claws. Just slowing down and observing nature brings me to state of peace and clarity.
You might say, “Who cares about getting the message about what picture to take,” but for me, it's those little steps that lead up to getting the answers to the bigger questions. Plus, you do actually benefit from the messages I receive, as I post the pictures on the blog. The book, A Course in Miracles tells us to be still and you will hear the answers to your questions and get guidance from a spirit greater than your own. This is true for me, as I journal and ask questions from this place of silence, I am able to receive the answers. No, I don’t hear a booming voice telling me the purpose of life. But, for example, this week I was amazed after asking to learn more about my purpose in life that I opened an email that had a link to an author I didn’t know about and when I read his book, it provided me just the wisdom and guidance I needed to hear. (Spoiler alert – the next blog will be about this amazing author and book). The answers don’t come in booming voices, but they come in many ways like emails, a flyer for a conference, a friend gives you a book or you overhear a conversation. You have to be aware to hear the answers. But the answers are there if you genuinely listen. I agree with Anne D. LeClaire that our soul yearns for stillness and when we spend time in silence we will come to a deeper sense of our self and our purpose.
Do you spend time in silence? Why or Why Not?
What happens when you spend time in silence?
How do you connect to your intuition?
“There are 30,000 days in your life. When I was 24, I realized I'm almost 9,000 days down. There are no warm-ups, no practice rounds, no reset buttons. Your biggest risk isn't failing, it's getting too comfortable. Every day, we're writing a few more words of a story. I wanted my story to be an adventure and that's made all the difference.” ~ Drew Houston
No one knows how many days we will have in life, I just want to make the most of each of the days I have. But, the key point of the above quote, for me, is to not get to comfortable; I want to always learn, try new things and grow from my mistakes. I want to make each day an adventure.
Last weekend was a good example of creating adventures. We were driving home from Tubac, Arizona and the trip could have taken an hour. But, we turned an hour drive home into a 7 hour adventure. I told my husband that I wanted to go check out Madera Canyon as we hadn’t been there in many years. It was a delightful drive and on our way back to the freeway, we saw a dirt road. We asked, “I wonder where that dirt road goes?” and we took out a map and the dirt road wasn’t on the map. So, of course we decided to see where it went. It was a breathtaking curvy narrow dirt road that provided spectacular views of the Arizona desert and grasslands. At times it was a little unnerving as we hoped we didn't encounter another vehicle on the narrow hair-pinned curve - but risks are part of what makes it an adventure. After an hour and a half we ended up on a paved road and saw a sign to a town we knew named Sonoita, so we headed there for a late lunch. We came the biggest commercial section on the one main street in town, but decided have another adventure and drive just a little further down the road and ended up at a charming restaurant called Café and had a scrumptious meal. As we were about to head home, I saw a sign for Parker Canyon Lake, and since I love water and we were open to adventures, I wanted to check it out as a possible place to camp. Again the scenery on the hour drive was spectacular and we had a wonderful time walking around the lake. Sure, I could have gotten home sooner, done the laundry, unpacked, and gone grocery shopping, but the adventure was far more worthwhile. I am so ecstatic that I avoided doing the “comfortable thing” and decided to take the road less traveled.
I will keep on making my life one big adventure. This applies to more than road trip adventures, but to daily life adventures like writing this blog, and growing spiritually and artistically. One example is that I will always take art classes and learn new techniques and push myself even when it would be easier and more comfortable to paint the way I already am successful. I watch some participants at workshops that are afraid of failing and resort back to what works for them instead of trying new things. Heck, I know that what I create at a workshop will look like crap, but it’s all about the process and learning new techniques. After the workshop, I will go home and practice and because I have the foundation from trying new things with the instructor’s assistance to correct my mistakes, I will be successful. I do not ever want to be too comfortable or complacent; I am willing to make mistakes, learn from them and grow. I don’t know where the roads of life will lead, but I am certain that I will be making each one into an adventure.
Do you ever get too comfortable with life? Are you still taking risks and making mistakes?
What was your latest adventure?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
My goal is to build a community with like-minded individuals who want to grow, share and learn from one another. Please post comments to enrich the experience for all.