Resolution with a Purpose - Week 2 - Purpose

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We are who we choose to be, so we should be very careful who we choose to be.  - Kurt Vonnegut, paraphrased.


Many of us are wandering around trying to find meaning and motivation to keep ourselves moving forward. This weeks topic of "purpose" should help us identify both of those things. Purposes are often more aspirational than practical. Goals that may never be achieved. The focus should not be on how difficult achievement is or the likelihood of fulfilling our purpose. Our focus should be on the passions that our purpose feeds. Below you will read of a farmer's purpose to "alleviate world hunger." He may never fulfill that purpose, but he truly believes in this purpose and he lives a better life because of it.

A life with purpose has been shown to add years to your life; reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke; cut your risk of Alzheimer's disease by more than half; help you relax during the day and sleep better at night; double your chances of staying drug- and alcohol-free after treatment; activate your natural killer cells; diminish your inflammatory cells; increase your good cholesterol; and repair your DNA.

Finding YOUR Purpose


Here's a six-step guide that might help you discover your purpose in life:

  1. Consider what matters most to you. Here's a list of core values. From the list, select the three you care about most in your life. If you have a value that's not on the list, go ahead and use that one.
    Once you've selected your top three, spend a little time thinking or writing about why each is important to you.
  2. Think about a person or people you'd like to emulate (not imitate). Someone in your family? A historical figure? A public figure? Cartoon character?
  3. Take the headstone test. That's right - draw a headstone, write your name on it, write in your date of birth. For the date of death, write "TODAY." What would your epitaph be? What do you want your big impact or accomplishment to be?
  4. Now that you've primed the pump and are a bit more in touch, ask yourself, "What are the goals in my life that matter the most?" To make this easier, break these down into personal, family, career, and community goals that you deeply value. See below to read through the purposes of others.
  5. Assemble these valued goals into an overall life purpose. This is where you want to stop and ask yourself, "Is this purpose bigger than myself?" Ask yourself this simple, timeless question: "In living toward this purpose, will I treat others the way I would like to be treated?" Make sure the suit fits.
  6. Wear the suit. Post your purpose in a place you'll see every day. Make sure you can recite your purpose to yourself or others. Consider sharing your purpose with the people who are close to you. If the purpose doesn't fit, change it until it does.

"To help others create a purpose in their lives, to teach every student as if they were my own daughter, to be an engaged husband and father, and to enjoy love and beauty" - Vic Strecher (author, Life on Purpose)

"To contribute something meaningful back to the whole society, to alleviate world hunger, to make the world a better place for those yet unborn, to build an everlasting peace throughout the world" - Gary Lamb (farmer)

"To relieve suffering and to exercise compassion. We are all in this together, for life is a common, not an individual, endeavor" - Harry Blackmun (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)

"To make a dent" - Studs Terkel (author, Hard Times)

"To put a ding in the universe" - Steve Jobs (cofounder, Apple)

"To live fully, experiencing each moment, aware, alert and attentive. We are here, each one of us, to write our own story-and what fascinating stories we make" - Madeleine L'Engle (author, Wrinkle in Time)

"To express solidarity with the poor and try to change their situation" - Gustavo Gutierrez (Peruvian Catholic Priest)

Navigating with Purpose


Imagine that we are sailboats, wandering the seas. The harbor we are seeking is our purpose. Every boat needs a harbor, just as every person needs a purpose.

To reach our harbor we need to consider our hull, rudder, and the wind in our sails. This is our strength, willpower,and energy.

S.P.A.C.E. is the primary mechanism used to build strength, willpower, and energy. We will explore these five topics later in Resolution with a Purpose.