Finding your purpose – write your epitaph
The search for meaning and your life’s purpose can be exhilarating when you have gotten to know it, or it can be just as painful when you are still chasing it down. Perhaps folks who are in their version of a midlife crisis can vouch for that one.
Let’s face it, purpose is the omnipotent force that people and organizations tap into when they want to pursue significance and I venture saying that nothing is long-term sustainable without it.
Why you often seem to be chasing a ghost is likely related to how busy you are and how little time you dedicate to solitude (the answers lie within you – always). In essence life keeps us so busy and you have distributed your priorities such that you cannot see the forest for the trees and thus totally overlook your “why”.
One of the most straight forward exercises you can go through is writing your own epitaph. What is straight forward is the process, but that is about it. It is an intense exercise that you do want to prepare yourself for. You need at least 4 to 8 hours of uninterrupted time to yourself. No electronics other than your computer with the Wifi turned off and the same goes for cell phone and any other gadgets. Best work retreats in remote areas where you look yourself into a room or simply take a walk into the woods where no one would normally go. Complete solitude benefits this process greatly.
Now start thinking about what you think your immediate family would say or write about you during your funeral. Make sure to compare and contrast what they would say versus what you would like to people remember you by. Now repeat this with your friends, co-workers, boss. This kind of thinking is tough and can be sobering and unsettling. Guess what, this is the point. You now have two pieces of information that will help you guide you towards what you are here for. On one hand you pretty much know what people would say at this time. You also know where the spots are that really lift you up. The things that energize and motivate you.
Be careful not to mistaken them with skills that you can do and the things that you do right now but should not do. They are not the true talents that lie within you. Keep your thoughts and outcomes in a journal. Journal like a fool. The faintest ink is better than your most attentive memory.
Schedule another day of solitude and ponder the items that you put into your purpose journal. Now sort them by talents, natural gifts and everything that gives you energy. Prioritize them by how much you really like each one. Then associate the people that come to mind whom you see you would do this for and how much it would mean to them. Seek out these people and share your ideas with them and tell them how much they mean to you. Voicing your intentions to your key folks puts the odds in your favor. It leads to an improved social life and will boost your career, but most of all you will feel more fulfilled and overall happier.
This exercise will peel the onion that is life for you all the way to the inner peel, the center, the “why” – your “why”. Good luck with this journey and please share your path to your core. That is what I call shaking up your snow globe. Get ready being mesmerized when you gaze in yours.
PS: It is a little macabre, but keep your personal epitaph around. In case something horrible should happen to you, your loved ones will find what they could say during your funeral. Nothing to be afraid of – it is genuinely you.