Do you have purpose in your life? Do you know where you are headed and where you want to be? Are you building a life you love and are proud of or are you just drifting through your days, letting life happen to you while you dream of a vacation or retirement so you can escape from it all?
Many people hear that small voice that whispers to us—you are here to do something wonderful…your life can be different and better… maybe you have heard it. If so, it probably taunts you.
I know that voice; it speaks to me often. I finally learned to listen to it, and to do something about it. The result is that I am building the life I always dreamed of and I can honestly say I have never been happier.
What if you know that you want to improve your life, but you’re not sure what it is you are supposed to do? You are stuck…restless, aimless, or bored. You are tired, and unfulfilled so you default to passing through life, accepting things as they come rather than working to make things better.
I’ve been working with people who are struggling to reframe their lives. They are desperate for something better but not sure how to figure it all out. Here is the process that I share with them and that worked for me:
Ask yourself questions.
What do I want in life?
What kind of person do I want to be?
What experiences make me happy?
What was my favorite thing to do as a child? As a teenager? As an adult?
What do I care about?
What am I doing when I lose all track of time and get lost in the work?
Which events in my life make me feel most successful? Happy? Frustrated? Upset?
Who do I admire? Why? Who am I jealous of? Why?
Spending time with questions such as these will help you to get clarity. After some deep self-questioning, I realized I hadn’t always made choices that aligned with my truest vision of who and what I wanted to be. Without this kind of alignment, you aren’t likely to be happy in your work or life.
Find your strengths.
You might already have a good handle on your strengths, but many times we are so busy that we don’t take time to focus on ourselves. Take some time to explore what your natural abilities are. This is fun!
Email or call ten people who know you well. Ask them what they see as your strengths. I found this activity to be eye opening and life affirming. I heard the same words over and over, and it validated what I thought about myself.
Take personality tests. You may have already taken the Myers Briggs or DISC which require professional implementation. If so, get them out and look them over. Here are a few more you can do on your own:
Think about your strengths and abilities, how you learn, how you communicate and how you see the world. This is potentially life changing. I believe that you build your best life when you are using your strengths. I am visionary, my other strengths are reading, writing, seeing potential and synthesizing ideas to create something new. I am creating a life where I get to use my strengths every day in my work and life. I know a creative, outgoing, extrovert who is a master networker. She is stuck in a cubicle doing detail oriented fact checking. Is it any wonder she is miserable?
Spend quiet time every day.
You can meditate, journal, pray, or daydream. This simple activity will force you to get out of your life, slow down and listen to what the universe is telling you. I struggled with this at first as slowing down does not come naturally to me. Now I would not trade my quiet time for anything. I crave this time which allows me to stay focused on how I want to live. I am not a morning person, but I will get up at whatever crazy hour I have to in order to find an hour of quiet.
Craft a vision.
Our minds cannot distinguish between real visions or actions and those we imagine. I don’t believe that just imaging that something exists will make it true. However, regularly visiting with our visions of the life we hope to achieve does help us to get clear about what we want and to keep our dreams very close to us. Imagine what you would like to have, to be or to do. Picture yourself having it or doing it. Make your visions as detailed as you can. See, it, hear, it, feel it. Cut out pictures and put them in a notebook or make a vision board. Make a Pinterest board. I also make a vision cup, which I use every day. Since I was a teenager, I have cut out pictures and put them into notebooks. When I look back at pictures from years ago, I am astounded by how many of the things I once pictured I now have in my life. Revisit your pictures often. Seeing it is believing it.
Make a plan.
As Yogi Berra said, ” If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else.”
This is the place for writing down your goals. Make big picture, big life goals as well as yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Write them down. Break things down step by step and then start assigning them in your calendar. There is power in planning. After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish. If you need help with goal setting, I love Natalie MacNeil’s approach. I also use her Conquer Your Year Planner, which I think is genius. It is not dated, so you can get started now!
Commit to the process.
Changing your life doesn’t happen overnight. Change is a little like travel, you figure out where you want to go, sometimes it is smooth sailing and sometimes there are bumps in the road. You will have apprehension about unknown places, but also feel the joy in opening up your mind to new thoughts and new ideas. Just focus on the next steps and keep moving forward. That is how you get anywhere.
What have you done to find your purpose or keep it in front of you? Do you have big plans for your life? I’d love to hear about it!
Happy dreaming my friends,