This weekend I got in my car, turned the key and did so with a purpose. I was taking a trip for the weekend. I didn’t just get in my car and start driving around aimlessly. I knew where I wanted to go (Portland, OR) and why I wanted to go there (to spend time with my family). I had a purpose. It might have been a straightforward one, but it was still a purpose.
Throughout our lives, we do things for reasons. Conscious or unconscious as those reasons may be. Lucky for all of us, it is simple for us to consciously direct our reasons for acting in a manner that provide us with a strong incentive, motivation and momentum for moving in an appropriate direction. This is the power of purpose.
What is a purpose? A purpose is a reason for acting that is bigger than the act itself. It is a source of energy for sticking to your guns even when things might get tough. It is an intention.
Cultivating a strong purpose for doing simple things in daily life makes it easier to also identify with a strong purpose when tackling big goals. For example, some people seem to struggle to get out of bed every morning. For decades, it becomes a battle against the alarm clock. Coffee and other stimulants come into play for a little added motivation. Invariably we get up because we feel that have to, not that we want to. This is the problem.
For others, the so called early risers, waking up is not a struggle. Or at least, it isn’t any more. Is it really the case that these people are biologically different than the rest of us? Do they really know something the rest of us do not? Or perhaps, is it really that they just have more compelling reasons for getting out of bed?
I know for me, getting up is no problem at all when I know there is a ton of snow dumping down in the mountains, and I’m bound for a full day of snowboarding. Why then, don’t I have the same zeal when it comes to getting up early to prepare for an 8am meeting at work?
At the end of the day, it is the purpose for doing things that is the ultimate motivator for us. If the purpose for getting up early is simply to avoid the shame of being the last person into the meeting room, or to do something that we have to do (as opposed to want to or get to do) – we’re bound to feel like we are swimming against the tide.
However, if our motivation for getting up early is to make a difference in the world, learn something new, make progress against our biggest goals or in some way enrich our lives – waking up becomes a whole lot easier.
In other words, the purpose behind our actions is where all of our power lies. Cultivate a strong sense of purpose for the simple activities that you do in life, and you’ll approach those activities with an entirely new perspective and far more energy and vigor than you ever thought you had. Who knows….you just might end up waking up earlier as well!
Cultivating a strong sense of purpose for simple activities will also make it easier for you to apply the same way of being to the big goals in your life. Want to get super fit? Really tap into the real purpose for why you need to exercise. Need to grow your business 20% in the next year? Connect with how doing that will really make a big difference in the world. I think you get the point.
So here is a simple exercise to help you develop a stronger sense of purpose in your daily life. Try it out for a week and let me know how it works for you.
- Every day in the morning, write down a list of things that you are looking to accomplish that day.
- Pick one, two or even three of these things. They could be activities relating to big goals that you might have, menial duties around the house (like cleaning!) or just something that you have a tendency to procrastinate on (maybe exercising?).
- For each of these items, write a few sentences about why the activity is important for you and those around you. Make sure you think about how the activity has a purpose beyond just your own life. How does it help your family, your community, your world? How does it align with your overall goals? Of course, if you are really struggling to find a purpose for the activity, then maybe it isn’t serving you and deserves to be dropped from your list of activities!
- Now, write down the few specific things that you will do to make progress against each of these outcomes.
- Re-read through everything that you wrote a few times.
- At the end of your day, go back to what you wrote, and reflect on how your new purpose impacted what you were able to accomplish during the day.
Try this out and leave a comment letting me know how it goes.