"It is one thing to Exist and quite another to Live. The difference between the two is the foundation of purpose." ― Michael Quansah
I had what could be classified as a mini crisis of self the other day. I was running around (being crazy busy) and doing all sorts of things, but the sense of purpose was missing. I decided that night as I fell into my bed that I didn't want to just make it through each day; I wanted to live each day purposefully. I had no clue what that even meant, let alone how to begin and I still haven't figured it all out, but here are a few things I have discovered:
"If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." -Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
A life without dreams can hold no purpose. Our wants, wishes and desires are what propel us forward. They give us the motivation and energy to get up day after day and keep going. Don't minimize your dreams because you are scared you won't ever be able to achieve them. Dream big and then cling to them to give your life purpose.
2. Set goals
"The real value of setting goals is not the recognition or reward, it's the person we become by finding the discipline, courage and commitment to achieve them." -Anonymous
Having big dreams is the first step, but the way to make any dream come true is to set goals. When I set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals for myself, it is easy to feel good about what I'm doing. I don't have to go searching for purpose because it is written down for me to look at anytime I need to. Having written goals is a great way to measure your purpose.
3. Walk with a purpose
"What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?"- John Green
This might sound a little bit silly, but consciously walk as if you have a purpose and you will feel more purposeful. Wandering aimlessly around day after day wondering what you should be doing may be fun, but it is also a great way to ruin your life. Make the choice to walk from task to task or place to place with purpose and you will feel better about life.
4. Know your "why"
"Stay guided by your values, not your necessities."- Adam Braun
In order to live a purposeful life, you have to know why you are alive. You have to know why you get up each day, why you go to work, why you go to school, why you run around at soccer practice sweating in the hot sun. If you know why, the activity becomes more than just another thing to check off your to-do list. Know why, and if you don't know why, then discover why.
5. Go with your gut
"All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience."- Henry Miller
I know we talked about setting goals and working each day to accomplish them, but with spontaneity also comes purpose. You know why you go to work each day and you have set goals to further your career, but now take a spontaneous leap of faith; listen to your gut and get away for a weekend. Don't throw your goals out the window, but be open to new opportunities, new places and new people. They will take you to heights higher than you ever thought possible. Take a step back and do whatever your heart tells you to, even if it doesn't seem logical at the time.
6. Don't be afraid
"It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts." - Zig Ziglar
The thing that hold us all back at one point or another throughout our lives is always fear, specifically the fear of failure or rejection. Our gut pushes us to take that leap of faith and switch careers or talk to that stranger over there and we push the feeling away. Doubts and fears of being rejected and not being good enough keep us from reaching our full potential.
7. Be patient and persistent
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill
Go with your gut and push through the fear, but then be patient. The reason for struggling through hard times or making hard decisions is usually not clear right away. It takes patient persistence to keep going when life gets tough, but hold onto the why and push through. You won't be sorry.
8. Focus on the important things
"Do the small things that make others feel big."- Adam Braun
Life is full of good things and it is usually easy to pass those by for the better things... but the person who lives a purposeful life is the person who passes by the better things and strives for the best. It is sometimes hard to recognize the best things, but that is where those gut feelings come in. The heart usually understands things the mind cannot yet comprehend, so focus on those things that you feel are important and purpose will follow.
Now, let's be real for a second and acknowledge that this is all easier said than done. It is seemingly impossible, but we endure with patience because, in the end, nothing compares to living a life full of purpose. It is a power that, if we can rein it in and harness it, will propel us forward to better and better things until we look back one day and realize, we really did do our best.