Acting on Your Purpose

Do  you have a new chapter in your future? You might be retiring from work or transitioning to a new role. Perhaps you are having a baby or becoming a grandparent, moving to a new community, grieving the loss of a loved one, or embarking on some community service.

Life is full of new chapters, and, like a book, your chapters don’t cohere without a clear purpose.

And yet, few people have a successful approach to creating one. Without it, you are at high risk of drifting into disappointment.

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

Mark Twain

My last email discussed the simple “X so that Y” formula for defining purpose in the main facets of your life.

Would you like a simple approach to acting on them? If so, you want actions that bring you Joy, align with your Capacity, and make a meaningful Impact. Here’s why.

What you do has to bring you Joy, or else the effort becomes drudgery. As you look at the different elements of your life – personal, professional, social, and community, for example – ask yourself what you love doing, what values are important to you, and what causes you love supporting.

You might love writing or meeting with people, building or fixing things, fundraising, working with your hands, coming up with new ideas, coaching youth teams, etc. Knowing your PROM Archetype® can help you identify your natural talents.

You can use this quiz to help you identify the values most important to you, aligning yourself with causes or organizations that emphasize them, too, and eliminating opportunities where those values clash.

In terms of causes, you might love supporting endeavors such as the arts, exercising, veterans, crafts, sports, politics, social services, or religion.

acting on your purpose

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

Steve Jobs

Capacity combined your acquired skills and available resources. Without capacity, you cannot act on your purpose. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What are your top competencies to help people and causes?
  • What skills can you reasonably acquire?
  • What time, energy, and money can you realistically devote to the causes that bring you joy without undermining your purpose in other parts of your life?

Finally, your efforts need to make a meaningful Impact on your purpose, or else you have a hobby or an addiction. To determine the impact you want to make, ask yourself, what are the results or outcomes you want to achieve with this action? Your answer should support the Y in your X so that Y statement.

Use the worksheet above to identify your actions to support your purpose statements. Perhaps you will take up bicycling to improve your health, coach your child’s sports team, start a new business, or volunteer at an animal shelter.

Another terrific way to use this chart is to identify and eliminate what’s distracting you from fulfilling your purpose.

  • Do your values clash with your employer?
  • Are certain people dragging you down?
  • Are you doing volunteer work that’s becoming drugery?
  • Do you have so much on your plate that you feel stretched too thin and unable to take care of yourself?

Put on your oxygen mask first before trying to help others.

The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus on your individual goals, and you can’t let yourself be beaten because of a lack of effort.

Michael Jordan