Live-With #5 from the course on Creativity and Leadership
What do you love? What do you do? Are the two the same… or do you find yourself filling your days with things you do but don’t love? Do you do these things because you think you should? Or because doing what you love seems like a selfish, unacceptable way to live? What, then, do you think about this quote?
Service can have no meaning unless one takes pleasure in it. Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant, nor the served.
To say it another way: If you don’t do what you love, ultimately, what purpose are you serving?
Look back on your life for a moment. When did you feel most fulfilled? Probably when you were doing what you loved, or when you somehow saw your higher purpose and could make even the mundane tasks worth finishing. At such moments, you lived and worked with a productive passion and compassion. Your daily activities were easier, effortless, and more enjoyable. Life itself felt meaningful.
Whether you realize it or not, these moments offer the key to discovering your higher purpose in life. Maybe that purpose has changed—and maybe it will change again in the future—but the important thing to realize is that you have a fundamental purpose at every point in your life. If you can find and follow that purpose, your life will be more meaningful, satisfying, peaceful, and productive than it’s ever been.
This Live-With is aimed at helping you do just that—to begin recognizing your unique purpose on earth. How? By having you focus on activities and situations that make you feel excited, productive, passionate, and compassionate.
Adopt the motto: “Do Only What You Love, Love Everything You Do.”
Do Only What You Love
Try increasing the percentage of time you spend in activities that are intrinsically interesting, are personally rewarding, and feel natural to do. The closer to 100% you get the better! Keep yourself on track by asking yourself the following questions:
* Is this activity easy, effortless, and enjoyable?
* Does it make time go by quickly?
* Do I look forward to doing it? And does it make me feel good about myself?
* Does it make me feel as if I’m contributing to something bigger—something that’s meaningful to me?
Don’t worry if you don’t yet know what that “something bigger” is—doing what you love may help you find it.
Love Everything You Do
Every time you encounter a required task that you don’t want to do—one that is not easy, effortless, and enjoyable—figure out a way to transform it. Or else transform your attitude about the task so that you do want to do it.
Be creative! Turn the unpleasant task into a game. Or find a way to connect it to something you really want to achieve – change the context. For example, maybe you hate standing in line at the bank. But if you do, you can make a deposit, see your account balance grow, make interest on your money, and then spend that money on a vacation! So instead of fidgeting and growing irritable, spend your time waiting in line imagining the fun you’ll have on a sunny day on a far-off shore.
Try the following strategies when faced with doing something you don’t love:
• Reward yourself.
• Change the context.
• Try quitting – take a break.
• Break it up and intersperse other tasks that you love.
• Change your attitude.
Live Your Values
Take an inventory of your values. List your top 10. Now ask yourself “How much am I honoring those values?” “How could I honor those values more?” Allow yourself to move towards living this week with full expression of your highest values.
Stop Often and Observe
Finding out what kinds of activities bring a sense of meaning and purpose to your life is the first step toward identifying your own overall higher purpose. So pay attention to what you enjoy doing and what you do well. Then, take some time each day to reflect. Ask yourself some penetrating questions:
1. What happens when I do things I love?
2. What happens when I stop doing things I hate?
3. Do I feel guilty? Slothful? Selfish? Or happy? Excited? Satisfied?
4. Why? And what is it about these tasks that makes me like or hate them?
If you can dig below your enthusiasm for a task by asking penetrating questions, you’ll uncover something more profound—that “something” which brings real meaning to your life.
Remember, this Live-With can help you find your ultimate purpose in life—but only if you put it into practice. So if you do nothing else this week, do this Live-With! In your journal, write about the experiences you have while adopting the motto “Do Only What You Love, Love Everything You Do.” Do you have a better understanding of yourself—what your higher purpose might be?
As you spend more and more time doing what you love and loving what you do, savor your rewards. Recognize that you’re living more creatively—and more in harmony with your true purpose in life.
Work can provide the opportunity for spiritual and personal, as well as financial, growth. If it doesn’t, then we’re wasting far too much of our lives on it.
James Autry, Author, Poet, and former Fortune 500 Executive