In Chapter 11 my cousin Dena, asks me to give myself some of my own advice. She also asks me to reflect on and share how the others in my life have played a part in my purpose. Wild Card Myra Margolin asked me to reflect on the year thus far and what I have learned. Could this be a big part of my purpose?
It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since you began the Living Chapters Project. What do you think so far? How have you changed? Have you changed for the good? Has the project served its purpose?
Purpose is our theme for this month of Living Chapters and for sure it is going to be a bit more on the reflective side than the actual get out there and go do side. So, let’s talk about this. What’s the point anyway, right? When we start asking ourselves these questions, we begin to find meaning behind what are we doing. Meaning might be as simple as defining our wants, desires, and needs.
Do you think about why you do the things that you do? The big things, or even the little things!
Why in the world did I just eat an individual size bag of peanut m and m’s as a midmorning snack? After further reflection, here is what I discovered: My decision for eating them is quite affirmed. Lunch was a few hours away! But simply, I like them. Also to mention that they were my mom’s favorite: I always love thinking about how when I was a kid, I always snuck a few when I found the left over ones in the bright yellow twisted bag that she earlier tossed in her purse to save for later.
So, how do you make your big time, bigger than what kind of tasty snack you will have, kind of decisions?
Maybe there were some jobs that you didn’t apply for because you were afraid the company or organization might not hire you? Maybe you broke off a relationship because you were afraid of getting too emotionally involved? Maybe you got rid of stuff because it served no purpose in your life any more? Maybe you didn’t call someone because you were afraid of what could happen? Maybe you didn’t run that 5K because you didn’t think that you would make it.
Personally, I haven’t run any 5K races because I think I would be last! But more importantly, I almost didn’t take a job because I was afraid. I thought Oh, what if this would happen and I would need to resign. What if I didn’t get hired? Alas! What if I did get hired and fell in love with a job because FINALLY I am able to do something that I love! Can I tell you how I came to the decision for applying for the job that I am quite passionate about? It’s because of you! You taught me to not worry about the “what if” questions. You taught me to forget about what my resume read (i.e. hanging on to a position for tenure or not applying would be a waste in particular if I didn’t get hired). You reminded me that a new opportunity might not work out…or better yet, maybe it would!
Have you ever made a decision because you knew that, while feeling a little anxious about the unknown, you were meant to do something really great? Everything up to this point has absolutely made you ready for the next step.
Some tips for self exploration…
1. What will happen this month as you reflect?
2. What will happen when the Living Chapters Project is concluded?
3. Who do you need to call whom you haven’t spoken with in quite some time?
4. Who do you need to send a letter to? When you think about that person, ask yourself why you are doing it and find meaning, or purpose, or reason for doing it. I think (and hope) that this might deepen your relationships with others.
5. Dish yourself some of your own advice. Write yourself a letter if you have to. Write one to your former self 10 yrs ago. Write one to yourself for when this project is over. Why? To help you discover your purpose and find meaning!
These questions might not be just for your career, but I also encourage you to consider the details of your relationships. When you start exploring the purpose of some of your behaviors/actions, relationships, and other areas in your life, you may begin to find a deeper level of meaning. This might help us to live more intentionally. Thoughtfully. Reflectively. One would hope that when someone else recognizes this in you that they might want to explore the same possibilities….Of finding purpose in their life too! Who knows? You never know who might grow because of you!
So, grow on. Grab your favorite candy bar. Discover why you chose that one. Take the stairs a few times this month and really think about why you would ever do that when there is an elevator button calling your name. Think about your health. Think about your career. Enrich your personal relationships. Reach in. Dig Deep and promise that you won’t ever stop looking for it.
Cheers to purpose!
What I read in your posts at the start of this month is a desire for both structure and action at this time. I see that, as the month has progressed, you have created your own assignments, similar to those that others have created for you over the last 10 months. That’s really cool! In some ways, you are exploring how this practice might be sustainable or incorporated into your lifestyle after this project is over.
In considering that this is your penultimate month, I’m going to draw back a little to return to Dena’s request for reflection. The rest of this month can be an opportunity to encapsulate or sum up for yourself some of the things you’ve learned throughout this entire process. So, for the Wild Card, I’ve designed an exercise to help structure the reflection that Dena proposed.
The Wild Card:
I’d like you to make a list of the things that you have learned about yourself while going through the Living Chapters process. It may be that you learned that you hate something that you thought you might like. Or you may have learned meta-lessons, such as, “It’s hard for me to follow someone else’s vision.” What have you come to understand about your nature, who you are, what is important to you, what is not important to you? My goal is to have you walk away with a solid understanding of what this process has brought you. I would imagine that looking at these assets, after you’ve written them down, can tell you a lot about purpose.
By the end of the month, I’m asking you to produce a solid list, not of questions moving forward, but of things you know for sure about yourself and what is important to you that you have taken from this last year. Again, these are not universal lessons but things you know about yourself.
So here’s the wild card – to provide some structure to the worthy goal of reflection:
- Find a time every weekday to spend at least 30 minutes on this. Find a quiet place to do this where you can really feel yourself. In order to explore what you’ve learned, you can either do some writing for yourself or write letters one or more of the participants in the project, reflecting on what you learned in relation to their month;
- After some written reflection, either through personal writing or letters, create the list of things that you know about yourself and what is important to you that you’ve learned over the last year. Find whatever form is comfortable for you for the list (e.g., phrases, paragraphs, etc…);
- [EXTRA] If you finish this list before the end of the month, create a cohesive way to present what you’ve learned. Maybe you want to create a written statement. Maybe you want to make a series of photographs. Maybe you want to make a short video. The form is up to you but it should encapsulate what you know about yourself now as you near the end of this year. Only do this bit if you go through the rest quickly. Follow your own pace;
- Share the list (and the thing you make from the list) with us!
Have fun. It has been beautiful watching this process unfold for you and I am really proud of your ability to follow the process through with such dedication and sincerity. You have a lot of people supporting you!