After thousands of attempts to create the light bulb, Thomas Edison simply replied, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." In another passage, he stated, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." You may read numerous articles and books about finding and living your purpose. You see it in short blurbs and in quotes. In my book, Succeeding on Purpose, I provide a specific outline to help you realize and pursue your purpose. However, finding it is only part of the task. Living it becomes much more difficult.
The power word today is Destiny. However, destiny and purpose are two different concepts. Merriam-Webster defines destiny as what happens in the future: the things that someone or something will experience in the future; something to which a person or thing is destined. Purpose is defined as: the reason why something is done or used: the aim or intention of something: the aim or goal of a person. So, if your destiny is something that happens in the future, reaching it demands a different set of outlined events. Your purpose is what you were made to do or the intention of something. You find it within yourself. You have been provided the strengths and skills necessary to live your purpose to achieve your destiny.
Just as 'life gets in the way' of everyday living and enjoying the pleasures of being alive, adversity arises when you are pursuing your purpose. As your realization of purpose becomes alive, you commit your resources (time, finances, attention, etc.) to building the foundations of your purpose in order to pursue and live it. Such a commitment is a strong force that has led countless others in a passion-driven mode that changed the world. The founding fathers of this country held a strong passion for freedom and were willing to give their lives to break the bonds of oppression. They pronounced their message in the face of death, imprisonment, and bloodshed. Yet, the passion of commitment raged on as Patrick Henry proclaimed, "Give me liberty of give me death." Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in his destiny of changing the world where all people, regardless of background, could live free from bias and discrimination, where a man could be judged on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. His purpose drove him as he organized peaceful marches across the South, which were met with harsh words, hatred, and violence. As he sat in jail cells, arrested only for the cause itself, he had ample opportunity to question his purpose and thus, his destiny. Thomas Edison, through multiple applications that did not work, had ample opportunity to seek an easier task with more assured results. Each understood that commitment early was necessary, however, the task of committing often was more important.
As you seek, find, and pursue your purpose, you will face multiple adversities. Some will cause you to question its worth. Without understanding the importance of knowing that believing and committing often is necessary, you may become disengaged in the pursuit of your purpose on this earth. Commitment is not a one time event. It is an ongoing activity that requires you to step back, evaluate, and recommit to the cause.
#1: Step Back - It's easy to get wrapped up in the activities of everyday life. We all must provide for our families, make sure the kids get to the activities, etc. We have become so busy that we are driven out of necessity. If we aren't careful, we live in a reactive state that is always chasing things and activities. The result is high levels of stress, which can create other physical and emotional issues. As a society, we have become so busy that we believe that everything must happen immediately. Younger individuals have never experienced the luxuries of sitting on the front porch and listening to the tree frogs at dusk or watching the fireflies provide a scenic display in the front yard. Many have never experienced having to turn on the oven or stove to warm up leftovers or get up and walk to the television to change the channels, or sitting down with the family to eat dinner without a phone or iPad at the table, or reading emails at home while watching television. Although it's difficult in today's instant society, sometimes you need to disengage from such a hectic schedule and the societal pressures.
#2: Evaluate - What is your level of commitment to your purpose? Have you created and maintained a plan to accomplish the varying aspects of that purpose? Have difficulties risen that have derailed your plan? Does the thought of living your purpose still wield a passion within you that causes you to think about your purpose each day? You may have become tired and distracted to the point that busy work has caused you to put your pursuit on the back-burner hoping you'll have time to pick it back up soon. As you step back, disengage and evaluate where you are at this particular moment. Be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable. It is no one's fault that you've become distracted in your pursuit. Question your motives and your passion. Create a task list but include short-term wins and then reward yourself when completed. Sharpen the saw - seek opportunities to develop yourself in the area of your purpose. Seek out reading material on your area of purpose and evaluate the feeling as you read. Does the excitement and passion return?
#3: Recommit to the Cause - We all become distracted, especially when difficulties arise. When it becomes difficult, many quit. Recommitting renews your purpose in your mind and provides an inner strength. It creates a priority within you and what you see as important, you will keep at the front. Review your plan and adjust as needed. Take the short-term wins and enjoy. Build relationships with others in the area of your purpose for reciprocal support during the tough times and accolades during the accomplishments. You need to create an accountability system and recruit others to hold you to it. Recommitment is an ongoing process, so do it often. You were chosen for your purpose. You have been given the strengths and unique ability to capture it and serve others. Of course it's hard. If it was easy, anyone could do it. However, you have been called to realize, pursue, and accomplish your purpose. Recommit often to keep it alive.