This morning I opened my email to find this quote by Simon Sinek. "Excitement comes from the achievement. Fulfillment comes from the journey that got us there." And, I had an instant "Aha" moment. I realized my current challenge. I've been asking myself, "What is my purpose" and feeling frustrated. I've been doing it all wrong.
I've quit setting goals and taking consistent action towards achieving them. In my young adult years, I always set goals for myself. I knew what my next step was. Become a loan officer, then a branch manager, then a ... You get the picture. I was always working towards the goal. I felt good about myself and what I was achieving in life. Then came a point where I reached the highest level I could see for myself, and I quit setting goals. And, the sense of dissatisfaction started to creep in.
A Life of Wandering
When I left my job, I "allowed" myself space to figure out what was next. I've wandered now for 18 years doing whatever came next. It wasn't about decisive action towards a goal. It was about following the path of least resistance. And, I have this constant feeling of lack of fulfillment knowing I'm not living my purpose. For several years, I've been looking for that thing that will make me feel fulfilled. There is great irony in that one. I lost my sense of fulfillment when I started searching for purpose in my life.
Now it makes me laugh because this quote turns the whole journey on its head. Somewhere I got turned around and I've been going at it all wrong. I need to choose my goal, make my purpose the process of heading towards the goal and in the process find fulfillment.
Merriam-Webster defines purpose as "Something set up as an object or end to be attained; resolution, determination. A subject under discussion or an action in the course of execution."
Nowhere in the definition does the word purpose say anything about some big, once in a lifetime cause. It's about action. It's about the execution of a plan. It's about making things happen. It's about making a decision and moving forward. Boy have we been duped. We've been waiting around for our life's purpose to show up. I've wasted years in looking for the big mysterious secret. I know I'm not alone. And, it's been right in front of me all the time. Choose and do!
Gardening with Purpose
No wonder I love gardening. I pick a project, and then I take steps to make it happen. I love the process. Digging or building soil. Moving plants. Creating a space of beauty and purpose. It's all right there. No life-changing goals involved. Sweet and simple gardening. And, in the end, a sense of accomplishment. And, as any gardener knows, a new project always emerges.
Purpose As Action
A purpose isn't just the end goal or idea. Purpose is what carries us through the tough stuff. Purpose is the vision in my mind when I start a gardening project. It's what I decide I want to create. And, it's the juice that keeps me going even when I'm hot or run into an unforeseen obstacle or my arms hurt. As Merriam-Webster says, purpose is the resolution that keeps me going.
That's how life should be. Choose a project or a goal. Understand why you're setting the goal. That understanding is what provides the determination to make it happen. Decide on the steps it will take to make that goal happen. Start moving. You may have to correct course along the way. Enjoy the journey. Make stuff happen. Feel a sense of purpose in the doing. Make a change, no matter how big or little. And, get stuff done.
No more wallowing, "I can't find my purpose. I don't know what it is I'm supposed to be doing." Trust me; I've been there. I've wallowed there a lot. I have journals full to prove I've taken that path. No more. Time to make some things happen. Time to rock this journey. Care to join me?