10 Going from Simply Existing to Fully Living Life

Do you watch the days roll by without much fun or excitement? We all get stuck in a rut sometimes. We go through the motions, doing what we’re supposed to be doing without questioning things or changing them up. We’re all guilty of this at some point or another. We get into a comfortable routine and are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. While that may be a safe and secure way to live life, we end up spending our time merely existing instead of truly living life to the fullest.

The key to moving from letting the days pass you by to creating a meaningful life that you’ll look back on with pride is intention and purpose. That’s it. You simply have to step in, take control, and figure out what you want your life to be. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?

Of course that’s easier said than done. If it wasn’t, there would be no reason to run this 30 day challenge, and there wouldn’t be bestselling books written on the topic. The biggest problem is that we’re all very good at coming up with excuses about why we can’t do what we actually would like to do. We come up with the excuses because they keep us safe. They keep us from trying new things and taking risks. They keep us from having to deal with possible disappointment.

There are things you want to do in life but maybe you’re too shy or embarrassed because you’re overweight or your hair is red or you have pimples or…the list goes on and on. I’m sure you have one of these that’s a mile long.

The difference between existing and living is in the DOING! Who cares if you’re a little out of shape and overweight? Who cares if you’re doing something by yourself because you don’t have a group of friends interested in the same things you are. Who cares if everyone around you has an opinion about what you’re doing. Do it anyway!

Learn to feel good about yourself, gain some confidence, love yourself, and just do the things you love. Start truly living your life to the fullest instead of simply existing. Trust me, it is well worth the risk. One way to get over the fear of the unknown and step out of your comfort zone is asking yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Often the worst scenario you can possibly imagine isn’t nearly as scary as the unknown. That one little exercise may just do the trick to convince you to give the things you’ve always wanted to do a try. I challenge you to pick one thing, one activity, just something and do it this week. Do it today if you can. Take action and take charge of your life and your purpose.

9 What’s Sucking Up Your Time?

We live in incredibly hectic times and our most precious commodity is and always will be time. You can’t grow more of it and when it’s gone you can’t get it back.

How often do you tell yourself that you can’t do what you want to do because you don’t have the time? We all do it. We want to live with more purpose, volunteer, or simply spend more quality time with our family and friends, but there just isn’t enough time to do it.

The cold hard truth is that there is plenty of time. It’s simply a matter of prioritizing what you spend it on and cutting out some of the things that suck up your time. We all have them and while the specifics may be different from person to person, the solution is the same for everyone. Find out where you spend your time and then make educated decisions on what’s important and what isn’t.

One of the best tools for figuring out exactly where you’re spending your time is a time journal. This can be a simple little notebook, a stack of scrap paper, an Evernote doc on your phone, or a spreadsheet on your computer. Next start writing down what you’re doing every 15 minutes from the time you get up to the time you go to sleep. Keep this up for about a week and see what you come up with. Reviewing your time log can be an eye opening experience.

You may discover that you spent a lot more time on the computer doing busy work, or surfing the web than you realize. Or maybe you had no idea that you spent an average of four hours a night watching TV, or 2 hours per day commuting to and from work. In other words, you’ll start to recognize patterns of behavior and where you tend to spend your time. While there are quite a few areas that we don’t have a lot of control over (you have to show up for work or school, make time for personal hygiene, and get some sleep), there are quite a few hours in each day that we can fill however we like.

Keeping a time log for a week or two provides you with the information you need to be able to make educated and conscious choices about how to spend that time. That in turn allows you to live more purposefully, no matter what your goals and aspirations are. Sometimes, you want to sleep in, spend the day reading or playing video games, or simply daydream and that’s ok. It’s a great way to unwind, distress, and recharge. On other days, you may choose do so something more active or social. The point is that when you become aware of how and where you’re spending your time, you have more control and can be more intentional with how you spent it.

8 Small Things You Can Start Doing Right Now To Make A Difference

In yesterday’s post we started to take a look at what you can do to live with purpose without getting overwhelmed by tackling too much at once. Today I thought I’d share a list of various things you can do to live more purposely and make a difference. Browse through the list below and use it as inspiration for things you can do. Try what seems interesting or fun or use it as a starting point to come up with your own ideas. Most importantly come up with a couple of small things and commit to doing them this week. It’s time to start living with purpose now.

At Home and At Work

Let’s start with a few meaningful and purposeful things you can do around your house and office:

  • Organize your desk.
  • Learn a new language or skill.
  • Pick up a new hobby.
  • Reconnect with old friends.
  • Write Thank You notes.
  • Plan a romantic dinner.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Cook from scratch.
  • Create a household budget.
  • Take a continued education class.
  • Go back to college.

In Your Local Community

Another great place to look at when it comes to living with purpose is your local community. What activities can you participate in, and what can you do to help out. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about this:

  • Help out an elderly neighbor.
  • Trade babysitting services with a friend.
  • Attend and help out at a local church.
  • Support local charities.
  • Run a charity race.
  • Help out at your child’s school.
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter or soup kitchen.
  • Donate to a local food pantry.

In The World

Last but not least, there’s a lot you can do to make a difference in the world at large. Some of it will require travel and thus a bit more planning (not to mention money), but there’s also quite a bit you can do from home, thanks to the internet and our global connections. Here are a couple of ideas for you:

  • Join and support charitable organizations.
  • Learn about different cultures and languages.
  • Support mission trips from your local community.
  • Go on a mission trip.
  • Travel and explore different cultures.
  • Provide financial support to your favorite causes.
  • Become active on social media to raise awareness.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to come up with your very own short list of simple things you can start doing right now to live with more purpose. Find one or two of them and start implementing them right away. Then keep coming back to your list for inspiration and add to it as we go through the rest of this 30 day challenge.

Your Purpose Doesn’t Have to Be Huge to Make a Difference

When we think about finding our calling or our life’s purpose, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that it has to be huge–saving all of humanity huge. We think that it has to be something along the lines of what Gandhi or Mother Teresa accomplished in their lifetimes. If you think that your purpose has to be this all-encompassing lifelong body of work, it’s easy to get discouraged and never get off to a start in the first place. And no wonder… that type of goal is overwhelming!

The good news is that you don’t have to dedicate your entire life to your calling. It doesn’t have to be this all-consuming thing.  You can make a real difference on a small scale that will help those around you and give you the benefits of living a purpose driven life. Keep that in mind as you go on this journey of discovering, and fine-tuning your purpose and then living a purpose-driven life.

Let me share a few simple little examples with you of things that can be done with purpose that make a real difference to the people it touches. None of these is a huge project, none takes a lot of time or money, but they all have a noticeable impact, particularly over time. More important than finding a huge purpose or calling is to live your life going forward with purpose and intention.

Spending Quality Time With Your Spouse And Kids

Our lives are hectic and busy. Often we don’t spend any quality time with our loved ones. Instead we race from commitment to commitment, cramming in a few meals and a bit of parenting here and there before collapsing on the couch and mindlessly watching TV. Become more intentional and purposeful in how you spend time with your family. Set aside pockets of time each day to give them your full attention. Plan some fun outings and activities and truly reconnect with the people who are most important to you.

Creating And Sharing Care Packages For The Homeless

Grab some gallon-sized Ziploc bags, head to the dollar store and put together small care packages for the homeless. Include a few personal hygiene products, some nonperishable food, and maybe a pair of socks or a hat. Keep them in your car and hand them out to homeless people you come across.

Adopt A Soldier

Make the day of a soldier overseas with a monthly letter and small care package. Google “adopt a soldier” to learn more and to find a soldier or unit you can connect with.

Decluttering Your Home And Downsizing Your Possessions

Let’s bring it back home for this last example. Living with purpose is all about living intentionally. Why not declutter your home and downsize your possessions in general to make sure you have time, space, and finances to do so. Donate what you don’t need any longer and see how much more free you feel when you’re no longer weight down by all this extra “stuff”. Plenty of people actually need and would use your “stuff!”

Notice that living a purpose driven life doesn’t always mean going out in the community and improving the lives of others. Another aspect that’s just as important (and should in fact come first) of living with purpose is to do so when it comes to your personal life and your home. Start there and then branch out toward the world at large.

6 Finding Your Calling

Your life purpose is about the reason that you exist. Your life calling is what you are called to do and become what you are to give to the world. Finding and following your calling is a big part of living with purpose. Finding that calling can be a pretty big and intimidating task, particularly if you put yourself under pressure to come up with the perfect answer right here and now. While it is a goal worth pursuing, it’s also important to realize that it may take time to find your calling. It’s a process that will develop over time, and that you can’t force. In fact, you shouldn’t. A much better plan of action is to take it one step and one day at a time until your calling becomes clear.

Start with What’s Important to You

A great place to start is to think about what’s important to you. It doesn’t have to be huge or all-consuming. Start with something small. Find a cause you feel drawn to and do what you can to support it. Volunteer, learn more about it and share what you’re learning with others, support organizations financially. Maybe this means knitting baby hats for preemies at your local hospital. Maybe it means spending time with an elderly neighbor, or maybe it means saving up for a mission trip next summer. The most important thing is to simply start and do something.

Listen to Your Inner Voice

Another great strategy is to listen to your intuition. Pay attention to that small voice that tells you what you should be doing. Learning to listen to this little voice can be a bit of a challenge in today’s busy and noisy world.

Spend some time contemplating your values. Educate yourself about causes that catch your attention. Spend some quiet time in meditation or prayer to be able to hear the what your heart is saying. Then start taking action on what you’re hearing and what you know you should be doing.

Walk The Path Towards Your Calling One Step At A Time

Don’t let this process overwhelm you. In the first excitement, you may be tempted to tackle a huge project and set out to change the world all at once. While that’s a great ambition, it’s also something that can seem quite daunting and burn you out. Instead, take it one step at a time. Pick your path and get in the habit of doing something every week, or even daily that aligns with your calling and helps you reach your goals. Pick something that’s easy to do and fit into your already busy life. No matter how small, every little act and effort helps to make a difference and serve with purpose.

5 Why What You Do for A Living Matters

What do you do for a living? That’s a pretty big question, isn’t it? Our job, our career, and how we earn money to finance our life is a big part of how we define ourselves. It’s often one of the first pieces of information we share after our name when we meet someone else. It’s a big part of our identity and of our feeling of self-worth.

We also spend a lot of time “on the job”. Between the 40+ hours we actually spent at work, lunch breaks, commutes back and forth, and of course getting ready for or unwinding from work, this takes up most of our waking hours. With this much time devoted to our job, doesn’t it make sense to do something we enjoy and that brings us happiness?

This is why it matters what you do for a living. You’re spending a lot of time training for your job, on your job, and thinking about your job. While not everyone will end up following their passion and working in a job that fulfills their purpose in life, it is something to keep in mind when you’re getting ready to go into the workforce or are switching jobs. Sometimes, a change can be a very good thing.

On the other hand, we need to have a job that pays the bills so we can support our families. If you’re a single mom, you may consider your purpose to be to spend as much time as possible with your kids. Your dream job may be a stay-at-home mom, but with no second parent to support your little family, that may not be possible. This is when it’s time to look outside the box. Maybe you can find a way to work from home, or bring your kids to work with you. Maybe you can work two long overnight shifts on the weekend while someone watches the kids and be there for them the rest of the week. There are ways to make your job work around your purpose, no matter what it may be. You won’t know what might be possible if you don’t ask!

Keep in mind that things don’t have to be perfect. In fact, they hardly ever are. Perfection is not the goal. Leading a happy and fulfilled life is. Think about your current job. Does it work for you? What works well, and what doesn’t? What small changes or tweaks can you make to improve what you’ve got? In other words, think about how you can change how you make a living to align with your purpose in life. Then make a plan to implement those changes.

4 The Connection Between Purpose and Happiness

When we start to make a difference and live a purpose driven life, something amazing happens. We become happier and more fulfilled. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. It doesn’t have to be anything huge like going on a year-long mission to a third-world country or setting out to cure the world of cancer. Even small gestures that make a difference can have a big impact on how you feel.

When you help a fellow student pick up a stack of dropped books, run an errand for an elderly neighbor, loan a great book that’s had an impact on your own life to a friend, or remind a fellow grocery shopper of a bag left behind, it feels good doesn’t it? We like to help out and make a difference. It doesn’t matter how small the act is.

We have been social creatures who rely on each other for millennia. Over the course of that time our bodies and brains have evolved to give us positive rewards for helping out and making a difference. In other words, it feels good to live with purpose and make a difference. It makes us happy.

It’s one of the biggest reasons why living with purpose is such an important goal. At the end of the day, we all just want to be happy, or at the very least happier than we are right now. Looking at popular media and advertising in particular, it seems that the key to happiness is more “stuff.” Bigger, more expensive houses and cars, more clothes, shoes, furniture, electronics, workout gear and the likes are what will makes us happy. If only we can buy and accumulate enough “stuff”, we’ll feel better. Sadly, quite the opposite is true. The more you own, the more you have to worry about and take care of, taking away valuable time that you could be spending on something else.e key to happiness isn’t to own more. It’s to live a purpose driven life and making a difference in the world. It’s one of the reasons why minimalism is becoming so popular. When your life and mind isn’t cluttered with all the extra stuff, you feel calmer, more in control, and have the time and mental energy to figure out your own purpose.

A purpose driven life is one lived within our core values. It caters to our need to cooperate and work together. It strengthens our confidence and makes us feel needed and valuable. All of this leads to an increased feeling of happiness. The moral of the story is stop buying stuff you don’t need, stop chasing that high-paying job that makes you miserable for 60 hours a week and start living your life with purpose.

3 What Is Your Purpose?

The first step on this journey towards living with a purpose is deciding that it is a worthwhile endeavor. The next step is to figure out what exactly your purpose in life is. It’s a pretty big question, isn’t it? I wish I had just the right answer for you, but the truth is that our life’s purpose is different for all of us. There is no quiz you can take that spits out the answer. It’s something you have to discover for yourself. I do however have a few thoughts to share with you that will guide you along the way. In the end, your purpose is very much like true love. You will know it when you’ve found it.

What Are You Passionate About?

Start by thinking about all the different things you are passionate about. Maybe it’s restoring old cars, redecorating your home, or sewing historical costumes. It doesn’t matter if it’s part of your current work or career, a cause, a hobby, or anything else you can think of. Make a list and keep adding to it as you come across more ideas.

What Do You Value?

Another good approach for coming up with potential purpose ideas is to think about what you really value. What’s important to you? What do you feel would make a difference? Maybe you value animal rights and make it your mission to raise awareness about the low number of wild giraffes in Africa.  Maybe you value the right of every child to grow up in a happy home and make it your life’s purpose to raise foster kids or adopt.

What Gets a Strong Emotional Response from You?

What makes you really happy, really angry, or really sad? Having something with a strong emotion attached is a good sign that you’re passionate about it and that this particular cause or purpose is important to you. Maybe it’s passion for your love of playing piano, your passion for heirloom tomato gardening, or your burning desire to put a stop to human trafficking.

What’s Fun

What do you enjoy doing? There’s nothing wrong with finding a purpose that is also enjoyable. In fact, it’s important that you like what you do and are having fun doing it. If it isn’t fun, it’s much harder to put in the work and effort required to reach your goals.

Of course not every task and every aspect of what you do will be fun—you want to find a purpose and a project that has you excited to jump out of bed in the morning.

2 Finding Your Purpose is Important

Yesterday, I touched briefly on why it is important to live with purpose. Today, let’s dive a little deeper and explore more about it. Making the decision to live your life with purpose, and then finding that purpose can have a profound effect on your life.

It Gives Your Life Meaning

When you decide on your life’s purpose, it gives what you do a lot of meaning. Every step along the way, and all the work you do towards reaching your goals, serves to bring you one step closer. It becomes much easier to get things done, when they are done with purpose and with a firm goal in mind.

It Creates A Value System

Living with purpose also helps you define and set a system of core values that will guide you throughout the coming years. You don’t have to waste time and energy each day trying to figure out if what you’re doing is right or worth doing. As long as it aligns with your purpose, you know you’re on the right track. That gives you a lot of confidence in what you are doing.

It Increases Your Feeling of Self Worth

When you are living with purpose and working towards a worthwhile goal, you take a lot of pride in what you do. With each passing day, and each small step that you reach towards that goal, your sense of self-worth will also increase. Use that feeling to propel you through the next day and the next challenges ahead.

It Leads To Fulfillment and Happiness

Living a life with purpose, that’s meaningful and gives you a sense of self-worth and confidence leads to happiness. Give it a try during this 30 Day Challenge and create a purpose for yourself. At the end of the month you’ll notice that you are not only more confident, but also more fulfilled. The true secret to a happy life is being completely fulfilled by the life you’re living.

Human beings are social creatures who need to make a difference and have a purpose, a place in society. We may think that material things bring us happiness, but what truly matters is how meaningful, helpful, and purposeful what we do is. Don’t be surprised to notice a measurable increase in your overall happiness at the end of this month-long challenge or journey towards a purpose driven life.

It’s Good For Your Mental And Physical Health

Last but not least, living with purpose is good for your health. Being needed, being helpful, and adding value to the lives of others has a measurable effect on both your physical and mental health. Living a purposeful life decreases your risk of heart disease and stroke, while it is also protecting you against depression. In fact, one of the best ways to fight depression is to find meaning and purpose in what you do each and every day.

Welcome! What Does It Mean to Live With Purpose?


 
I’ve been thinking about the idea of living with purpose for quite some time. I felt so strongly about the importance of purpose in our lives that I became a certified Purpose Facilitator, trained by and affiliated with the Purpose Project™, a joint project of the University of Minnesota, Center for Spirituality and Healing and Richard Leider of the Inventure Group.

When we live with purpose, we get more done, we create meaning in our life, and most importantly, we feel happier and more fulfilled. It can have a positive impact on your entire life. That’s why it’s an important topic to discuss. It’s also what inspired me to create a 30 day series of blog posts around it.

Over the course of the month, we’ll take a look at living with purpose and how we can start to live more intentionally. We’ll look at how this will affect all aspects of our lives and I will have lots of hands-on tips and suggestions for you.

SO what does it mean–to live with purpose? Simply put, it means that you know what you’re doing. You have goals and are passionate about what you do. Instead of simply letting the days pass you by, you work with purpose to make the most from each day.

When you live with a purpose, you are not just existing. When you know exactly what you want to do with your life, you have a clear plan or path. You don’t have to get up each morning and then try to figure out what you will do. You simply dive in and keep working towards the goals you set based on your purpose.

You develop a clear set of core values that you follow, based on your purpose. This will come in handy anytime you have a decision to make. Think of these values as your compass that keeps you on track.

Most importantly though, living with purpose gives you a great sense of self-worth. You know what you’re doing and you’re actively working towards the goals you’ve set for yourself. Not only does this increase your feeling of self-worth and self-confidence, living a purpose driven and fulfilled life will also greatly increase your overall happiness.

In the end, that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it? We all want to live a happy and fulfilled life with meaning. That’s why it’s important to start thinking about living with purpose.

Last but not least, I’d like to invite you to join me on this 30 day journey towards living life with a purpose. If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to sign up here. I will send you a short email each day as soon as the Living with a Purpose blog post goes up. The email course is completely free and you can unsubscribe at any time. Join our Facebook group here