Living With Purpose, On Purpose
Mack and I attended the 10th Annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum last week in Columbus, GA. The lineup of speakers was impressive and I took away many notes and “nuggets” to reflect on. Several speakers had great presentations and thought provoking points. As usual however, John Maxwell’s presentation was by far the most impactful for me from a leadership standpoint.
He offered the analogy that someone once shared with him: Your life is a book filled with blank pages and it’s up to you how you will fill the pages each day. He went on to share three areas to be intentional about how you fill those pages:
- Be intentional about your personal growth and development.
- Be intentional about your growth in attitude.
- Be intentional about your purpose – find your why and live into it.
How we choose to fill the pages each day of our life is entirely up to us. We either intentionally make the choices each day on how we are going to fill those pages, or we don’t – and someone or something else fills the pages for us. We can be intentional in each area of life. Try this exercise to see how intentional you are:
Start with a blank sheet of paper. Draw a vertical line down the middle of the paper and then draw a horizontal line across the middle so you have four quadrants. Label the quadrants: Physical (Health and wellness physically) Personal (personal growth/emotional growth) Relational (professional growth, relationships, social network or support group) and Spiritual (religious, meditation). Next, take a few minutes and consider how you would describe the optimal state for each quadrant. For example, my “Physical” quadrant would ideally contain a balanced and healthy diet of nutritious foods, regular exercise, cardio, stretch, strength, and regular time outdoors. Next, rate your current state in each quadrant from 1- 10 with 1 being completely unsatisfied currently with where you are and 10 being 100% satisfied and living up to your ideal state.
If, and only if, you are serious about living on purpose and you are ready to take it one step further, flip the paper over. Write down one thing you want to START doing and one thing you want to STOP doing in each quadrant, that will help you live closer to where you want to be in one year.
Now, this is the hard part, whatever you wrote down, ask yourself how you will do it? How can you follow through on those actions you wrote down? How will you intentionally live today, tomorrow and one week from now just a little closer to your goal? We all have potential to do more and be more in life. The problem is, most of us just let life happen rather than living intentionally. Self-awareness is a sign of emotional intelligence and the first step in making positive changes in our lives. We must first know where we are and where we want to go before we begin to go there. Then, we have to make the commitment to go there, one small step at a time. Consistency is difficult because each little decision doesn’t fell like a big deal. If your ideal physical quadrant includes regular exercise but you find it hard to fit in the time, it will be easy to skip your workout because we tell ourselves that missing one day isn’t a big deal. And, then tomorrow we say the same thing if we aren’t careful.
“Every day consistently beats all day sporadically.”~ John C. Maxwell
We also have to stay motivated on purpose – often the goal seems so far away that our effort today doesn’t feel significant and therefore it’s easy to quit. I remember running my first marathon. I had overtrained the weeks leading up to it, so I was already experiencing some pain the last few runs before the big day. (I’m not a natural born runner and I had even attended a 6 week course on how to run better so I could train my body to go the distance – but that’s another story.) The first few miles of the marathon were easy – it was exciting, there was lots of music and people cheering us on as we started the race. At mile 6 however, I started to feel shin splints and I knew it was going to be a long day. I kept on running. At mile 7, it started raining. I kept on running. At mile 15 I was miserable and realized I was developing a blister. I kept on running. Each step I took was taking me closer to my goal but it didn’t feel like a big deal because the goal was still miles and miles away. At mile 21 I thought I had torn my achilles tendon and had to walk for a little ways due to the pain. I kept on going. Determined not to quit, I put the power of consistency to work and just kept getting closer to the goal. Fast isn’t as important as finishing when it comes to those goals we set and work toward each day. Five hours and nine minutes after starting, I ran across the finish line.
When we intentionally work for and accomplish a major goal in life, we realize the power of consistency and being intentional. Is it easy? No. But then, nothing really worth having in life comes easy. Anything worthwhile requires effort, sacrifice and energy. Is it easy? No. Better to ask yourself – is it worth it? Yes.