If you really want to transform your life, my strongest recommendation would be that you find something that you’re passionate about and do it for a living. When you can honestly say each day that you look forward to going out into the world to make a difference AND if your work feels like play most of the time, then wealth, happiness, and fulfillment will be within your grasp on a daily basis.
Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, says about purpose, “Each of us is born with a life purpose. Identifying, acknowledging and honouring this purpose is perhaps the most important action successful people take.” Yet in my life journey, I constantly encounter people more concerned about their destinations in life rather than fulfilling their true life purpose. Too bad these individuals cannot experience what Jim Carrey says, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
In regard to living with purpose, Ernest Becker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and psychologist describes man’s greatest fear as follows, “What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance.” When asked what surprises him the most, the Dalai Lama said,
“Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”
Imagine for a moment that you are on your death bed and surrounding you are all your hopes, dreams, talents, and desires asking you the following question, “Since each of us was unique to you, how did you use us to fulfill your purpose in life and make a difference in the world?” I very much doubt that your best answer would be, “I bought a big house, drove fancy cars, went on lots of vacations, and bought luxurious toys.” Unfortunately for many people that I help with their financial plans, estate plans, and business succession plans, these materialistic things are the core focus of our discussions. People would be better off remembering what both Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa said:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
Everyone’s life story encompasses the profound statement by Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities (1859): “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . .” The choices you make in life will establish the main plot, and sub-plots, of your life story. The meanings that you attach to your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in your life will create the mood and themes of your life story. The things you have in your life are simply sets and props that you must return at the end of your life story. Lastly, the people in your life are the players within your life story. Therefore, since you are the author, the director, the producer, and the leading Star of your own life story, should you not spend your time, talents, and treasures to make your life story a masterpiece that is both inspirational and empowering to yourself and others? After all, in regard to your own life, your life story “is the Greatest Story Ever Told!”
So here are your tasks for living with passion and leading a purpose driven life…
1) Answer the following questions to help you get started on your journey to discover your passion:
a) What puts a smile on your face?
b) What comes easily to you in your life?
c) What sparks your interests and unleashes your creativity?
d) What would you do for free because you simply love doing it?
e) What do you like to talk about on a regular basis that brings out excitement in your voice and gestures?
f) What makes you unafraid of failure?
g) What would you regret not having tried if you knew you had less than a year to live?
2) In order to live a purpose driven life, it is very important that you ask yourself some key questions:
- Who am I?
- Where did I come from?
- Why am I here?
- What are my unique abilities?
- How can I share my unique abilities with others?
- Who do I aspire to be?
- What do I want from life?
- What am I giving back to the world?
- What am I grateful for in my life?
- What do I definitely want to avoid in my life?
- What would I regret not doing if I knew I only had a year to live?
In his book, Finishing Well: The Adventure of Life Beyond Halftime, Bob Buford provides the following quote from Tom Morris:
“The greatest case of mistaken identity in modern society relates to the four marks of public success: money, power, fame, and status.
Success should never be confused with wealth or power, rather, success should be linked to excellence and fulfillment…
I have no problem with money, power, fame, or status – as long as they’re treated as resources, rather than as goals in themselves. But that’s precisely the problem for most people – and why? It’s so hard for people to answer the question “How much is enough?” If acquiring money or fame is your goal, how do you know when you have enough? Everyone I know who has a little wants more. But everyone I know who has a lot also wants more. (p. 9)
3) So how can you create an extraordinary life story on a daily basis? I recommend that you apply the following three choices every day. In the book, Everyday Greatness, Stephen R. Covey explains “what leads to Everyday Greatness,” as follows:
I am convinced that the answer lies in three every day choices, choices that each of us make every day of our life, whether we are consciously aware of them or not.
#1 – The Choice to Act
The first choice we make each and every day is, Will we act upon life, or will we merely be acted upon?
Clearly we cannot control everything that happens to us. Life hits like the waves of the ocean as one event rolls in after another. Some events are incidental, causing us little or no impact. Others virtually pummel us…
We can and we should become the creative force of our own lives – and of our futures.
#2 – The Choice of Purpose
But plenty of us have made the choice to act, only to find that we made poor choices…
And so the second choice we make each day is of great significance: To what ends, or purposes, will our daily choices lead?
We each want to be of value – to know our life matters…But, in today’s rush, rush world, it is easy to pass through each day without even thinking about the purposes we are pursuing, much less pausing long enough to reflect on the purposes we would most like to pursue.
#3 – The Choice for Principles
While I believe in the power of positive thought, I do not believe that you or I can simply psyche ourselves into success or peace of mind. Rather, enjoying a life rich in meaning and progress…comes only as we live in harmony with timeless, universal principles.
And so the third choice we make each and every day is, Will we live our lives in accordance with proven principles, or will we suffer the consequences of not doing so?
To partially explain what I mean, let me share a favorite anecdote from the December 1983 edition of Reader’s Digest.
One foggy night at sea the captain of a ship saw what looked like the lights of another ship heading toward him. He had his signalman contact the other ship by light. The message was: “Change your course ten degrees to the south.”
The reply came back: “Change your course ten degrees to the north.”
Then the captain answered: “I am a captain, so change your course ten degrees to the south.”
Reply: “I am a seaman first class – change your course ten degrees to the north.”
This last exchange really infuriated the captain, so he signaled back: “I am a battleship – change your course ten degrees to the south.”
Reply: “And I am a lighthouse. Change your course ten degrees to the north!”
The lighthouse is like a principle. Principles are immoveable; they are timeless and universal. They do not change…Like the lighthouse, principles provide permanent markers against which people can set their direction in times of both storm and calm, darkness and light.