In this past week, I have been practicing setting intentions of purpose daily and attempting to follow through on them. Making these statements of purpose or daily mantras has been a helpful tool for bringing me back on task with my in the moment objectives. But let’s be honest, I’m not always succeeding with these hopeful mantras and am realizing that I need A LOT more practice outside of spending just one day in May following them.
Being an “On Purpose Person” is much more complicated than anticipated. Especially when my focus has been to diligently seek balance between being fluid in letting things go while also being mindful and proactive. I’m not sure that “making life make sense” is the best advice for me to follow. Because frankly, I have found that life doesn’t make sense all the time and I’m ok with that. Accepting things the way they are (even if it they are sometimes a chaotic mess) seems like a better approach then trying to overly control or make sense of my every move. Again, there must be some way to balance right?
Last weekend, I went to visit this month’s chapter writer Dena and her family in Richmond Virginia. She was having a yard sale. Dena and I decided that it might be a good reason for me to come visit. I could try to sell some of my mother’s belongings at this yard sale (as I have been trying to help my mom downsize in preparation for her move.) Now…. filling up my car with stuff and driving 2 states away with the purpose of selling old stuff from someone else’s front yard does not seem like a logical mindful thing to do. When it was all said and done, I spent about the same amount of money on gas and food on the road as I made in sales. Not to mention the immense amount of time spent in preparation, organizing, packing etc, I am pretty sure we lost more than we gained. However, it was a fantastic social visit! I rarely get to see my cousin and her two little ones. Maybe creating this “reason” or purpose to visit Dena really did work out after all! But why couldn’t I just have been honest with myself about the real or true purpose of this visit (wanting to see my family) and planned it more efficiently?
This made me wonder about other things in life that I give a “purpose” to. Am I being honest about my intentions? Do they hold true to my own purposeful goals desires and intentions? Or am I constantly trying to “make life make sense” in external ways that sound like the right thing to do or what others might like me to do? What kind of actions or work align with my personal purpose? Do the people I spend time with support or hinder my personal purpose? Have I been following an idea of what I think should lead to greater purpose or am I pursuing true personal passion and creating purpose along the way?
Dena and I juggled these questions together last weekend and came up with this: Purpose surfaces in life when the doing of what we love most (our passions) intersects with the doing of what we do best. It may be found in a job or a career – if we are lucky. Or it may be something that comes naturally and daily, like how we interact and share conversations with others, how we prepare a meal or greet a stranger. This may or may not hold meaning for others but it holds personal meaning for ourselves.
I’ve always felt that work itself would bring me a sense of purpose. Over the years, I’ve gravitated to many jobs that held a particular cause to fight for. Whether it was working with inner city youth in Baltimore City or with farmers around water quality issues on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I was always drawn to bigger picture purposeful work hoping to effect change of some kind. However I now realize looking back at job after job that none of these causes were the crux of my personal purpose or my passion. What I learned from Chapter 5 last October is that the meaning (or purpose) lies in the making or the process – not the job itself, an ambition, an object or a lifestyle. It’s always been embedded in my passion for engaging sharing, and connecting with individuals and their stories. So maybe I should be revisiting that mindful mantra for the rest of this month of May.
What is your passion? What are you best at doing? And are your current actions and intentions honestly helping you engage in these things?