Your life purpose is an incredibly powerful force that will direct your life and determine your legacy. Find a successful person who is content and fulfilled, and you’ll likely find a life guided by an inspired purpose or mission, and a person who has applied his or her God-given talents to a worthy cause.
In fact, without a strong sense of life purpose, even the most successful accomplishments can seem empty.
Knowing your life purpose–what makes you tick, what motivates you, what you are alive on earth to do–is what ignites passion. Passion inspires initiative and creativity. It builds momentum and creates enthusiasm. It also sustains hope and perseverance in difficult times, and provides a reason (and enthusiasm!) for getting out of bed every morning.
Life purposes can be cause-driven (e.g., curing a disease, educating disadvantaged youth, sheltering the homeless, cleaning the planet, protecting our country) or skill-driven (e.g., athletes, artists, mathematicians, designers). They also can evolve throughout your lifetime.
How can you discover your life purpose? Here are some questions to consider:
What causes (e.g., global or community needs, people, situations, organizations) am I most passionate about? What problems would I most like to solve? What needs or people tug at my heart?
What inspires me the most?
What brings me the greatest joy and fulfillment?
Whose lives would I most like to emulate and why?
What are my special gifts and talents?
Where can my skills have the greatest potential impact?
Once you ponder these questions, see if a picture emerges. Then, as that picture solidifies into an identifiable sense of purpose, calling, and passion, start thinking about how you can live it out.
Whatever you do, don’t set your life purpose on a shelf and forget about it. You are a unique individual with gifts, talents, and perspective only YOU can give to the world. No amount of money, fame, or accomplishment can ever compete with that.
Someday, you’ll want to be able to look back on your life and say, “Mission accomplished!” What’s your mission? Are you living it out with purpose and passion? If you’re a parent or teacher, find out what the young adults in your life think about their life purpose. Share your comments below; we’d love to hear from you!
Last week we talked about work ethic, and the need to educate our young people to work hard, take personal responsibility, and say “no” to the entitlement mentality. All important!
On the other hand, there is an equally insidious trap we want to help them avoid: workaholism.
My own father worked very hard at his job of coloring the bright construction paper at a Wisconsin paper mill. But when his work was done, it was done. He was able to devote his free time to family and interests by not taking his work home with him.
Today’s workplace is completely different. We’re now a service economy in the information age. Consequently, our work life today is much more knowledge-based and open-ended. While this makes for a more exciting work environment, it does have its downside. We tend to take our work home with us, and, if we’re not careful, it can easily consume our free time.
And now with our cell phones becoming virtual appendages, we’re always “on call” –a new source of overwork and distraction.
Don’t get me wrong. Your career will be a key component of your life. However, more than any other aspect of your life, it has the greatest risk of taking over if you’re not careful. And, if you’re a student, remember there’s more to life than your books. Your studies, too, can be all consuming if you let them.
If you allow your work or studies to dominate, and can’t let them go during your free time, you’ll suffer burnout and starve your relationships. (Recall from a previous blog that the most common life regret of elderly people is not spending enough time with loved ones.)
Always remember to stay balanced and invested in other areas of your life to keep things healthy and happy. People need you and you need them!
Are you able to leave your work behind and “switch off” at the end of the work day? Consider passing this along to a friend or young adult for them to consider, “tweet” it, or share it to Facebook. And please share YOUR thoughts with US by commenting below; we’d love to hear from you.
As I was enjoying a much needed three-day weekend, my mind drifted to three recent conversations relevant to Labor Day. I was reflecting on how the world is becoming smaller and increasingly competitive. And, on how we have to raise the bar just to stay even.
When I considered who are best positioned to answer this question, two groups immediately came to mind: employers of young people and school counselors. After all, they’re the respective “consumers” of the nation’s schools and the “focal points” in guiding our students.
And, to a person, they’re concerned and discouraged.
The manager of a coffee shop who teaches “tech ed” at high school vented about the lacking social skills and work ethic of his employees and students and their “entitlement mentality.” He faces an uphill battle because parents are routinely feeding these attitudes, both at work and school—last minute absentee calls and flak over any grade short of an “A.” Even nasty calls to employers and professors when their children don’t get the promotion or grades they “deserved!”
A veteran school counselor shared how the first week has already had its share of student disrespect and parental entitlement issues. Regrettably, this is consistent with a survey of school counselors I conducted a few months ago. Student apathy, “entitlement mentality,” and lack of parental support were among the top five issues they cited…all as the world grows more competitive.
Juxtapose this with a conversation I had with a determined Indonesian high school student after my talk “Developing the Great Leaders of Tomorrow” during my book launch tour.
“Mr. Dennis,” he said, “I’m not as smart at academics as I’d like to be. But, can I still become a great leader?” He gets it. It’s not just about book smarts. It’s about life smarts—without entitlements.
All of us—parents, schools, politicians, and media/culture drivers have a stake in reversing this trend. That means honoring and modeling hard work and ethics and preparing young people for a life that isn’t always fair. It means teaching that failure is part of life and self-esteem is something best earned. It means that as parents, our value isn’t defined by a perfect performance from our children, but whether they are people of excellence who strive to do their best.
So, now that Labor Day is over, it’s time to get to work…on this!
What are your observations about work ethic in young adults these days … good and bad? What are your suggestions for helping to diminish an entitlement mentality and develop an appreciation for and commitment to personal reponsibility and industriousness? We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!
Let’s face it. Most of us like to be in control. Control gives us freedom, power, and confidence that we can steer our course.
As kids head off to college, they’re about to be in the driver’s seat for the rest of their life. Ah, the sweet feeling of “control.” They can’t wait! But is it really that easy? The answer, of course, is “No.”
Soon college students and those heading out into the work force will be free from their parents’ oversight, but much will remain outside of their control. Are they prepared for it? Consider these potential real world examples:
Their roommate is a disaster
They just bombed their calculus final—so much for majoring in math!
Just when they’re about to graduate and search for employment, the economy tanks
They don’t land the job they desperately wanted
They don’t care for their new supervisor
It rains on their wedding day
A boyfriend or girlfriend announces he or she wants to date other people
Someone they love is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness
Control? Yeah, right! Although young adults are increasingly becoming more independent, they’ll quickly learn that not even they have control over their lives. Unexpected road bumps and potholes are the norm. When they occur, we all have to deal with each unique situation the best we can. Incidentally, most of the above happened to me!
Basically, we all have two choices. A common approach is to stew about the circumstances and be consumed with self-pity. The other approach is to accept the things you can’t control and make the best out of the situation. You may not like the circumstances, but you work the problem and focus on what you can control. For those who believe in God, it’s also a time of prayer, trust, and faith that things will work out okay. PERSEVERE!
It’s important for young people—for all of us, really—to understand that we have a choice in how to deal with matters beyond our control. For your own sake and for those around you, adopt the second approach. It’s not always easy but it’s far better than the alternative!
How do you handle things when life doesn’t go your way? Do you dwell on the things you can’t control, or can you let them go? How have you taught healthy strategies to the young people in your life … please share your ideas and comments below!