Having meaning and purpose is a necessity for survival as much as a necessity for a long happy life.
Think of stories of older people who have to retire and die soon after. How about people who come back from war, yes they may have experienced trauma, but also they miss the purpose of defending their country and protecting their fellow soldiers. Think about ourselves and how times in our life when we don’t feel like we have a purpose can be quite melancholy.
There are four stages to establishing or enhancing an already purposeful life.
Stage 1 - Remembering a Positive Past
Think back to the times in your life when you were at you best. When you were in the FLOW. What comes naturally for you. Often we have to think back to times in your life before conformity might have steered you away from that thing that you do best. What is it that you were doing or who were you with when you were at your best?
Stage 2 - Imagining a fantastic future
Imagine or write down your ideal future. Professional and personal, mind and body. Where would you be, who would you be with, what would you have accomplished, and what would the world around you look like because of your work and influence.
Stage 3 - Make concrete commitments
Start with long term goals don't hold back - as big and as far out as you can imagine. These maybe daunting, so then reel them in a bit with some medium term goals and then short term goals. Finally Kaizen.
Or as I like to say “aggregating marginal gains”, the term used by British cycling coach Dave Brailsford, when he started coaching the team in 2010. He looked for a 1 per cent improvement in all aspects, from riding alignment to diet to the pillows the cyclists slept on. In 2012 his rider won the Tour de France, and his team won 70% of the Olympic gold.
For us, in the spirit of Kaizen, just do a little bit each day in the direction of of your fantastic future, on a foundation of doing what you do best!!!
Stage 4 - Authentic Action
In 1999 Fortune Magazine published a study about Why CEOs Fail. Execution. CEOs who execute, do well. And those who don’t, fail. So once you have established stages 1-3, now is the time to execute. “Just do it” as Nike says. Each day do a little. And allow for the process to take time, because it will. “Life is too short to be in a hurray” - Thoreau
Disclosure - I am currently taking Certificate in Positive Psychology(CIPP) taught by Tal Ben-Shahar and Whole Being Institute. In the CIPP Chronicles I am writing about the lessons learned in my interpretation, using a combination of my words and those used by the CIPP teachers.
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