If you want what you want… do it on purpose sounds rather simplistic and well obvious doesn’t it? But that’s what acting on purpose is. Yet ironically acting on purpose usually isn’t big, loud or in your face. Often the simpler the thing, the harder it is to put into practice. Maybe simple things are simple at all, rather they are subtle. This is what I thought as I walked the dogs this morning.
The vision is not to see things just as we have imagined them to be. The vision is the freedom to live deliberately every day and that is a simply a choice.”
As I continued my walk, I reflected on how easy it is to fall off the wagon of living deliberately. Walking the path of bliss and trusting that everything happens just as it is didn’t start by accident for me. I figured out that it was the best path by watching and listening to people who seemed to “know” something that I didn’t. They were happier, more optimistic and frankly more successful doing things they loved than other people I knew. I know lots of successful people, but most of them pay a heavy price for their success. So I stopped, talked with and studied the happy successful people. Among other things, time and time again they told how they actively pursued what they wanted. Thinking of them reminded me that it seems easy to stop doing something if you put it on autopilot, but autopilot never actually works.
The best way to start anything is 1) to choose something you love, 2) focus on it, 3) find meaning in it beyond yourself and 4) find people to so it with. The tipping point for me had everything to do with this site. The sun, moon and stars had all aligned.
- I was pursuing something that interests me. When I started it writing I wonder if I had enough to say, now I can’t write enough. You’re not going to stick it out if you don’t care.
- Writing had become a regular ritual and I had incorporated the three F’s into my practice: focus, get feedback, and incorporate fixes. Not only does practice make perfect, but we also like to do things we are good at.
- I started to feel like I had found purpose. Not only am I’m doing something that I love; but since I love it I’m doing it as often as I can and I know that in due time I will help a lot of people. “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for. (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov)”
- I wanted to hang out with people who were inspired and passionate. Enthusiastic, optimist, ‘let’s get her done’ people who motivate and encourage me. We internalize the standards of the groups we belong.
I was doing something I loved, practicing it regularly and as a consequence I found my purpose. The missing link was community. Building a community that supported me in my life required that act on purpose. Honestly when I first started thinking about picking my friends this way, I was a little intimidated. Was I really willing to stop hanging out with people because they weren’t optimistic and motivated? To be that—well—deliberate, seemed calculating and studied. And do you know what? It is.
What does acting on purpose mean?
Acting on purpose means you consider what you are doing and make choices that lead you to where you want to be.
- Take responsibility for everything you do.
- Act consciously with full consideration.
- Approach life with our eyes wide open.
Acting on purpose meant that I had to pay attention to how I was feeling, what I was doing and I needed to take steps to fulfill my needs.
Where do you begin?
Look at what you love and what’s important to you and pick something and start like I did. But that’s just one way. I have a girlfriend who instead of making a New Year’s resolution, she picks a theme for the each year. This year her theme is serenity, so she’s actively incorporating things that make her feel more serene in her life. Her step one is very different than mine, but after she picked her ‘thing’ the rest of her steps are surprising similar to the one’s I outlined above.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- How you are spending your time?
- How you are caring for your body?
- How you are nurturing your mind?
- How you are caring for your soul?
- How you are caring for the relationships with those you love?
- How does it feel?
As you’ve probably already gathered living deliberately isn’t ways comfortable. Yet, I’ve found that getting out of my comfort zone is one of the keys to finding peace and joy. Being uncomfortable supports my raison d’être. What more I realize that going just beyond what’s comfortable is actually the fun part. I pause in my comfort zone because I can’t run on all cylinders all the time. I need a break, but I look forward to getting out and wrestling with life.
And as you’ve probably gathered if you’ve read my About page, my life has at times been messy. But the preparation time, experimentation time, re-organization time is THE dance. In the words of John Dewey, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” It is in life that we test-drive ideas to see if they really work. There’s this constant culling shuffling and sorting pieces of my life between keep, toss and maybe box. Today I smiled as I appreciated the dance. And for me it truly is an art to focus on what I want in an active way. Although living deliberately starts with a daydream about what can be, it is only after you’ve started to do something about it.
In Out of My Later Years: The Scientist, Philosopher, and Man Portrayed Through His Own Words, Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.” Einstein was talking specifically religion art and science but, in real terms, that idea must encompass everything we decide to include in our lives. Making choices is not or shouldn’t be a judgment about the goodness or worthiness of someone else because they are on their own lives, but rather active engagement in our own journey.
Life becomes simple and clear once we make the single decision to engage. In Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty, Victoria Moran adds, “A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first…. When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar (148)” and then you can really live life to the fullest!