For many years I’ve had a pretty clear sense of my life purpose, and I like to think I’ve been doing a good job living it. I feel fulfilled most of the time, and I’m very pleased with my current direction. My normal experience is to feel that I’m in the flow of inspiration, and I seldom feel stuck. My life has been working very well, and it seems to be getting better each year.
Here’s the purpose statement I currently have on my About page:
to care deeply, connect playfully, love intensely, and share generously;
to joyfully explore, learn, grow, and prosper;
and to creatively, brilliantly, and honorably serve the highest good of all.
It may not mean anything to you, but I still get a surge of emotion each time I read it. I think it does a job of succinctly summing up how I wish to live and what inspires me most.
One of my favorite books on the subject of life purpose is Life on Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life by Dr. Brad Swift. My purpose statement has worked well for me over the years, but Brad gave me another way of thinking about purpose. His approach didn’t replace my current purpose statement, which I still love, but he gave me another perspective I hadn’t considered.
Instead of thinking about purpose in terms of doing, Brad encourages you to think about it in terms of being.
I think one of the reasons my purpose statement has worked so well for me is that it incorporates beingness, and it isn’t heavy on the doingness in a way that might make me feel pressured or stressed. If your purpose is only about doing, then when you aren’t taking action, you aren’t on purpose; that creates a pressure to be doing, doing, doing… even when you’re feeling burned out. I agree with Brad that it’s better to define your purpose in such a way that you can feel happy and fulfilled at all times, not just when you’re taking a lot of action. I figure I must be doing something right because I often feel very grateful even when I’m just running errands or hanging out with friends.
Fortunately my current purpose statement translates fairly easy to beingness. “To care deeply” means to be a caring person. “To connect playfully” means to be a playful person. “To joyfully explore” means to be an explorer.
I liked considering my purpose statement through the lens of being. It helped me recognize that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can always be living on purpose. I don’t always have to be doing something specific.
But there was a greater benefit beyond this. Brad’s insights encouraged me to reinterpret my goals, projects, and tasks from the perspective of beingness. I reviewed those items and asked myself, Who am I really desiring to be here?
My original purpose statement addresses the questions of what and how. I also have an intuitive understanding of the why. But it doesn’t really address the question of where. Where do I ultimately see myself living on purpose?
This is a fairly general question, but it gave me a lot of clarity. I thought about why I’m in Las Vegas and what I can do here specifically. I thought about where in the broad field of personal development I most enjoy working. I thought about what kinds of situations and positions I enjoy most.
There are so many facets to this exploration that I’m still exploring it — which is actually a part of my purpose: to joyfully explore. But I’ve already gained more clarity about some “locations”, or states of being, that I enjoy most.
One place I enjoy is being in the increasingly overlapping space between technology and personal development. I feel perfectly comfortable in both fields. I liked being one of the first people to leverage blogging technology to spread personal development ideas. Now it’s commonplace, and there are lots of people leveraging tech to promote personal growth. I think that’s wonderful. I love having one foot in the tech world and the other foot in the personal growth world, and I look for ways to further connect the dots between them.
Another location I love is the space of connecting deeply with people face to face. I like that I can discuss topics like life purpose or subjective reality with people shortly after I meet them. I like “breaking the ice” by recognizing that there never was any ice to begin with. I enjoy maintaining an open and approachable posture; I can’t always do that online due to the overwhelming numbers, but I’m at least able to do it in person most of the time. To me, being in the space of an intimate connection with someone is a very joyful place to be.
When I remind myself to simply be in these places, my life flows very easily, and I feel happy and fulfilled. Interestingly, this focus on being has led to a lot more action.
For example, by reminding myself that I love being in the overlapping space between tech and personal growth, I’ve been devouring tech company biographies lately, coming up with new ideas for how tech and personal growth could continue to merge. I’ve also made some tweaks to my website, so it’s serving up pages more efficiently than it was a week ago.
By reminding myself that I enjoy face time with people, I arranged a meetup in a local park last Sunday. About 14 people showed up. I brought a bunch of my discs that I use for disc golf, and several of us had fun throwing them around; that was my way of expressing “to connect playfully”. I’m also working on booking more workshops for the Fall, which will bring even more people together in the same physical location, where all of us can connect playfully and learn and grow together.
The irony is that I don’t feel like I’m really doing much, but I’m getting a lot more done than usual. I’m not trying to force anything. I just focus on where I want to be, and action flows effortlessly from there. I’m enjoying this really nice flow right now.
Being in the right place is very powerful. When you’re in the right place — for you — the doing part follows naturally from it. You don’t have to push yourself to take action or fight against procrastination. When you’re in the right place of beingness, life automatically supports you.
Brad’s work got me thinking in new directions about other parts of my life such as my goals, projects, and actions. I started thinking less about to-dos and more about “Where do I want to be right now?” Once I figured that out, I discovered to my delight that the right actions flowed rather easily from there.