We all have desires, dreams, hopes or wishes. Do you know yours? We need to satisfy three levels:
- Needs to survive. This includes food, clothing, shelter and transportation.
- Needs to thrive. This is the part about knowing yourself deeply, the things that need to be in place to live to your purpose and potential. I would add belonging and love to this list. The key word is need.
- Other wants. This is everything else and includes “stuff” like material possessions, promotions and experiences.
Going deeper on the need to thrive, I want to offer “heart, mind, body and soul” as a context. Said differently, what are your emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual needs? We each have a unique mix of needs to satisfy to thrive.
Here are some examples:
- Heart. Being in a relationship and knowing that you are loved for who you are. Having an emotional connection with a friend or person in need. Feeling empathy and compassion.
- Mind. Learning something new. Goal setting and accomplishment. Solving problems for yourself or others.
- Body. Taking care of yourself to avoid illness or eating well to maintain high energy.
- Soul. Having a relationship with God. Having some personal time to enjoy what you love without the demands of daily life. Silence and time to reflect.
Don’t just fill up your time with activities; learn to thrive. Take a few minutes and capture your needs to thrive on paper. When you truly understand them, set goals and act to achieve them.
When writing on the topic of mentoring I am usually focused on its importance in helping other people. This blog focuses on what it can do for each of us…not to be selfish but to embrace that service is a two-way street. It is one of those foundational, but higher-level, life skills that we can use every day in any relationship.
To be a good mentor, you must learn essential life skills:
- Active listening and asking powerful open-ended questions.
- Empathy, putting yourself in another’s situation.
- Encouragement, leading to persistence and resilience.
- Affirmations, helping another see something good in themselves.
- Visioning, seeing and planning a bold future.
- Goal setting and action planning, getting something important done every day.
Mentors see life as a process of development. It starts with an orientation toward serving and supporting someone else. It emerges from an emotion of care or love. If you are a mentor then you have a “heart to serve”. I’m sure you want to be good at it. Try going deeper and thinking of it as an accumulation of skills, each of which is important in its own way. Once you learn them you can apply them in everyday situations toward those you care about.
Mentoring is about inspiration, care and support of another but it transforms us too at many levels…heart, mind, body and soul. It is a skill worth mastering to improve our own capacity for purpose and knowing ourselves deeply. Consider taking on a formal mentoring role because “we grow as we serve”.
Why should you spend time discerning (uncovering, understanding, practicing) your Purpose? Why write a Purpose statement? I can think of several reasons:
- Purpose develops a deeper sense of worth. We know who we are deeply including values, strengths, beliefs and needs. This results in confidence because it’s less about “image”. We use this knowledge to pursue more aligned jobs and life roles.
- Purpose makes it easier to choose how we use our time, make decisions and allow people to enter our lives. We learn what is essential in life to thrive, be fulfilled and feel good about ourselves.
- Purpose deepens our connectedness to our Creator, creation and friends and family. Our relationships change.
- Purpose provides a buffer against “losses”. If we lose a job we know that “our job is not our life”. If we lose a life role, e.g. friend, we know that our many other life roles are being pursued.
Understanding the WHY of our lives is essential and worthwhile. Generally, why are you alive? Specifically, why did we pick this friend, this job, this place to live or this activity? Ultimately, choices are an expression of yourself and a reflection of heart, mind, body and soul needs.
More personally, this effort must be called a transformation. My pursuit of a purpose statement took over a year until the final words emerged. The “mining for gold” of my life is still in progress but continual discovery of new gold nuggets continues to thrill me.
I drove by a billboard for a local college the other day with the headline Define Yourself. It got me thinking.
Define yourself is about who you want to be. There is no doubt that we live in a world of image and branding — personal and product. Some might call this our social self. I do this myself. I recall an early retirement activity to design a personal business card: a title, logo and phrase that helped form an identity.
We choose to be different people in different circumstances, e.g. we might choose a more assertive behavior at work than at home, or with a salesperson rather than a family member. We choose to become what our various roles require; personal growth forces us to move beyond our comfort zone. My concern is that we can lose ourselves and when we do fundamental stresses emerges.
Know yourself is about who you are at your core. This includes strengths, values, beliefs, and desires. Some might call this our true self or our soul. I believe that knowing yourself is the more powerful and essential context. Consistency across defining and knowing leads to joy, energy and potential. Our values must be operative in all situations to thrive.
The path to Purpose starts with knowing yourself deeply. I hope the identity you choose for any given role recognizes and includes this deeper level. It is worth the introspection to create this alignment.
Do you know what your ideal life looks like? Not something 10 years in the future but today or tomorrow? I fear that too many people wake up each day and go through the routine of what they have always been doing.
The model below is a simple way to look at how you spend your 168 hours per week in a qualitative way. Change the rows to whatever you want and simply check the column that matches your need – your vision. Add detail, for example, seek the specific parts of your job that you love and add specific friends.
Once you complete the table create the action plan to initiate change. How will you do more of something and less of other things…at work and home?
The big question is WHY you want to do more or less of anything. Each activity in our lives touches our heart, mind, body or soul in a unique way. Try to discover what you love. If you seek the answer to the WHY question you will more likely find the intrinsic value in anything you do. It is something to seek today. Let your Purpose, Vision and Goals guide you.
As I watch TV I notice that there seem to be two main types of series: those with individual episodes and those with a continuing story line. Which one of these series-types is your life like?
Some lives are like individual story episodes. In this type, each day is a new episode or story. It doesn’t matter if you missed last week’s episode because they are self-contained. Other lives are more of a continuing story line. In this type, you must wait to see the finale to know how it ends (and you want to do so). The main characters leave together to be “happily ever after” or start a new life.
The continuing story line has a long view of life. The main character has evolved and changed through the experiences of learning, mistakes and accomplishments. The pursuit of Vision and Goals have accumulated into something significant, e.g. a raised family, a career, a project or even a legacy.
The continuing story line “connects the dots” or “finds the thread” of your life story. There is a theme or pattern although we don’t necessarily know how the pieces come together until we look backward. Purpose is about choosing this life; knowing our strengths, values and needs so deeply that we want to or must leverage them and experience a joy based on fulfillment. It is about living to our potential.
The idea that our life can be a comedy, drama or “dramedy” can be a thought for another day.
Volunteers become better people (my belief) but I want to explore this more deeply for those who already have a job. Should we make time for another commitment when we are already overly busy with family and work? This is written in the context of individually choosing to serve others rather than a company-led initiative.
Volunteerism leads to:
- New skills and experiences. Seek to create a resume-building volunteer experience as it can be a signal of character. It is opportunity to gain new soft and hard skills, practice existing skills in new ways, and learn more about complex issues like poverty or the environment. You can also develop character qualities such as empathy and compassion.
- New relationships. Increase your professional and social networks by meeting new people including staff, clients and other volunteers. There is a strong relationship between volunteering and the development of social and human capital.
- Balance. It is easy to get trapped into the daily demands of a job. Volunteering is a strategic choice to find a (new) balance across heart, mind, body and soul. It can be a source of satisfaction, fulfillment and meaning or simply a relaxing diversion.
- Perspective change. You can increase job satisfaction, attitude and morale because you return to your job and company with new ideas and attitudes.
Do you want to help your community or the world? Do you want to build your own skills and establish new relationships? Consider sharing your time and talents with others.