What Does it Mean to Live on Purpose?
Do you ever use a GPS? You plug in your destination and then your loyal sidekick tells you exactly what to do. “In a quarter of a mile, veer left.” “Stay in the far-left lane and take exit 347 to I-26 South.” The technology, these days, is mind-blowing if you stop to think about it.
But I miss the days of laying out a map, a real paper map, and tracing my finger along the road to plan out my trip. I really do. I love a good map. I was always the navigator. I would lay it out, find my starting point and then trace the route to my final destination. I would get a sense of directions. Were we heading east or west, north or south? Will we be traveling in rural terrain or in a busier city? The things I would learn from this bird’s eye view, these “knowings”, helped me so many times. For examples, because I knew we were heading east, I knew where they sun should be at a particular time of the day. I could use this secondary information as a guide. I had a holistic sense of the trip.
But now, I don’t. Rather, I don’t have to. I can just tell my GPS where I’m heading, and she takes me there. I get there most of the time, but when the GPS fails me, I’m really lost. I’ve relinquished all of the responsibility for my arriving at my destination to a computer program and satellites.
Someone other than me has the power to tell me where to go because they are responsible to program the GPS. And I have to trust them to know what they’re doing. This is okay on a trip, kinda cool I guess, because the stakes are low. But in Life, not so much!
Living on Purpose, living the life you really want, is similar to going on a cross country trip. You have to determine your desired destination and then plan out your route to get there. On today’s podcast, I’m going to talk about what it means to be the boss of this trip called Life. To be your own GPS. I’m going to share with you three defining characteristics of someone who is both the navigator and at the helm of their own life. I’m going to help you live your life on Purpose .
If you’ve been tuning in to my other podcast, you’ve heard me talk about Living by Default vs Living on Purpose. Default is when you allow external factors and maybe even some internal lethargy to take you where it will take you. Living by default could be defined as “going with the flow” which is not necessarily a bad thing, or it could be considered “giving up” or relinquishing your power. But Living on Purpose is the opposite. Living on Purpose is making a conscious choice to design, create and live the life you really want. It often means saying “No” to the way things are and to pleasing others and saying “Yes” to new and different way that please you.
To Live On Purpose begins by being as clear as possible about where you want to live from. Like planning a trip, you pick the destination then you begin to make plan to get there. You not only decide what to bring and who to bring along with you, but you’ve got to choose your route. When you go on a trip you have tons of choice . . . go by plane, car, train, or bus. Take the scenic route meandering through little burgs and cities or take the quickest and most direct route. The same is true for your life.
By the time you realize you can CHOOSE the life you want, you may look at where you are and feel “Damn . . . how did I get so far from where I wanted to go? Maybe you thought you were heading toward home ownership and you’re still renting or you wanted to live by the coast but still you’re still in your home town or you saw yourself as a traveler but you can’t seem to schedule the simplest of vacation. Or maybe you’ve dreamed of owning your own business and you’re still working for someone else. Or you’re still going paycheck to paycheck waiting for that monetary windfall. Damn!
Or, maybe not so dramatic. Or you could wake up and find out you’re closer than you thought to the life you’ve always wanted. Yippididoda!
It really doesn’t matter in the big picture where you are in relation to where you want to be. The main thing is
that you know where you are. Because once you know where you are, then you can figure out how to get where you really want to be. You can craft a route, on Purpose.
Give Yourself Permission
Living on Purpose begins when you give yourself permission to have the life you most desire in the first place . . . this is KEY and something very few people do. I have no numbers to back this up, but I believe most people just live the life that is the easiest one to live. The life that is plopped in front of them. “Oh, I’ll marry that person. She or he asked.” “Oh, they offered me a job . . . I don’t like it. . . but that’s okay.” They may follow the exact life their parents or society laid out for them, not bothering to question or dream. I’m not saying a life with value is huge or grand or exotic. It can be incredibly simple and very close to the one your family has always lived. The distinction is . . . “Did you choose it?” “Are you choosing it every day? Or are you tamping down your desire for some
Most of us weren’t told we could choose to live a different life than the one laid out before us. This is especially true the older we are. The younger generations are doing a much better job with this one. They got the memo. Even those who realize they can choose something different, lack the confidence, the know-how, or the resources to make the necessary shifts to change.
Living On Purpose is allowing yourself to choose a different destination, if you desire. Or perhaps you keep the same destination in mind, but you want to go there in a different route., taking in the scenery from some new-to-you places.
That’s what it means to Live On Purpose.
I believe there are three characteristics of a person who is living on purpose.
Here they are. Number 1: These trailblazers are deliberate in their thoughts, feelings and actions. (easier said than done somedays for sure)
Number 2: They take 100% responsibility for their lives (at least most of the time) You may have heard me talk about this one before . . . but it’s a biggie. And Number 3: They remember or honor that they always have a choice.
So, let’s discuss #1. Begin deliberating about what we think, how we feel and what we do may sound easy but often it’s not. At least not at first. It requires a lot of listening to yourself, both what you say and what you think. It requires a lot of question asking, like “Is that really true?” It takes daily practice.
Number 1: We humans tend to believe that what we say to ourselves in our head is true. It’s like this intercom systems that is constantly telling us about the world and about ourselves and it is All Knowing. But guess what? Much of the time, that voice is wrong. That voice has been programmed by culture, by your parents, by you. These thoughts can pull you under like a strong undertow and drown you if you’re not careful. Then there are your feelings.
Feelings are a crucial part of being human. They are like your thermostat, warning you, grabbing our attention, making us human. But you have to mindful that feelings are not facts. They are feelings with a voice that may not have all of the information. You have to be extra careful when your feelings are driving the bus. Then we come to your actions. We are creatures of habit and more times than not we will do what we’ve always done. . . even if what we’re doing takes us in the opposite direction of where we want to go. So, Living On Purpose, takes a soul-level commitment to be intentional with your thoughts, your feelings and your actions.
Number 2: Someone who Lives On Purpose take 100% responsibility for everything in their life. The more I move through my own life, the more I feel and know the truth of this. Like I know the sun will rise, I know that taking complete responsibility is the holy grail of living your best life. This means as you look at where you are right now . . . even if it’s miles from where you want to be . . . is your responsibility. You want to be 150 pounds and you weigh 250? This fact is 100% your responsibility. Whether it was poor food choices or an illness that added the extra weight, it is still your responsibility. You have no savings to speak of? Your responsibility. You’re single because your spouse left you and you really want to be couples? That’s your responsibility.
Now, let me make a distinction between Fault vs Responsibility. It’s true, much of what you may be dealing with is/was outside of your control. (Can you say COVID-19! This pandemic alone may be wreaking havoc on your life. Maybe a reduction or loss of income, isolation, and canceled plans. There are many things outside your control that can change you or your situation. I’m not disputing that things outside of your may have put you where you are now. But it is 100% your responsibility to turn things around. You can spend all the energy you want to justify, blame, or point fingers, however you’re the only one who can shift your life.
Blaming or waiting to be rescued will only waste precious energy. Worse than that, it puts all of the power outside of yourself. People who Live On Purpose don’t waste their energy that way. They may drop into blaming or whining or waiting for a bit, but they self-correct as soon as possible. A person’s ability to create the life they want is DIRECTLY in proportion to the responsibility they take. Responsibility rises and falls in direct relationship or equal proportion to Power. If you take responsibility, then you have the power.
Number 3: People who Live On Purpose know they always have choices. You get stuck when you think there is only one right way out, only one route to our destination. But this is almost never true. I might even say it is NEVER TRUE.
When I’m stuck or when my clients are the most stuck, its usually because there is a belief, they must find THE right way to do something. When they are uncertain about this one right way, then everything comes to screeching halt. Imagine you’re on a trip and you come to a big interception with lots of options. You’re uncertain which way to turn. Since you’re unsure of the answer, you just stay put. You stall out. But what if all of the roads would get you where you wanted to go? Sure, one may be quicker but to the other may be more rewarding. Get the picture. People who Live On Purpose, keep a broad, expansive view of their options because they trust there are many ways to get where they want to go. Isn’t that a relief, if you think, about it?
I’ve watched the stress fade from clients faces when they let this one truth soak in. “You mean the stakes aren’t as high as I thought?”
Years ago, I was speaking to a group and was talking about this very thing. I said, “You know I don’t have to take care of my children.” I had two very challenging kids, with autism and other issues and I was single at the time. I said, “I don’t have to do it!” I saw faces wrinkle up or a bit of disapproval. I followed this with, but I choose to. I choose to love my kids. I choose to do the hard things necessary. I said, there are loads of examples of people who had children and then fled. But I choose to be right here doing what I’m doing with and for my kids. See how this is a much more powerful position. No longer the victim but standing in the power of choice.
When we’re facing something difficult, its empowering to take the stance that we choose to be in it. To face those forks in the road and make a choice about how to act. We choose to move forward, even if there is no guarantee, rather than going backwards. The power comes from knowing you have a choice to stay engaged and then you have multiple ways to handle any issue you are faced with. Again, we’re talking about standing in our power and not limiting our thinking. Limited thinking dis-empowers us.
Living on Purpose is about making deliberate choices about what you think, feel, and do. It’s about taking 100% responsibility for everything in your life and remembering there is rarely only one way to do anything. It is about remember that you always, always have choices.
Living by default may feel easier. I image it IS easier for some people. But if you’re listening to this podcast, I’d wager you’re someone who doesn’t want to settle. I imagine you’re someone who has ambitions and desires. Now go get ‘em!