The Art Of Living On Purpose…
‘Living a great life’ isn’t one dimensional, it can be very simple or complex but it always involves having the right balance. In my experience, here are the main categories of a person’s life and arguably the order they should be in.
SELF: Having the correct priorities is first taking care of yourself! It’s not an excuse to be selfish or to avoid being sacrificial with others, it’s the reality of being able to live a great life and be at our best in every category of life. In my experience, if a person doesn’t take care of themselves first, they can’t take care of others. Living healthy by eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding ‘specific substances’ are a part of caring for ourself. This is why when we board airlines they tell us in case of an emergency to put on our oxygen masks first before helping our children. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we can’t take care of our spouse, kids, clients, and friends they way they deserve. Its called the the ‘Starving Baker Syndrome.’ Its a common hazard for people to spend so much time helping others, they forget to take care of themselves, it emphasizes the idea that we must feed ourselves for personal growth. (Which is part of a great book series on leadership called Habitudes by Tim Elmore).
SPOUSE: The next prority is our relationship with our spouse or significant other. If our emotional needs are neglected, we don’t feel respected, cared for, or there is a high level of tension and
frustration in our most significant relationship-then there are bound to be more problems elsewhere in our lives. Being connected and united in purpose with our significant other are some of the biggest variables that will impact our well-being and ability to function in other major areas of lfe. Even if you’re one of few people that acts like they can ‘keep it together’ with an unhealthy key relationship, it’s only a matter of time before everything unravels and begins to fall apart. If you need help in this area of your life, their is no shame in getting help. Learning how to have a strong marriage will make you a better person and empower you to be at your best. Two great resources on this topic are the ‘5 Love Languages’ from Gary Chapman & a book series called ‘His Needs Her Needs’ by Dr. Willard F. Harley. If you read these two book and only apply 10% of it to your marriage, it will change your life!
KIDS: I believe the third priority should be our relationship with our kids. Being a good role models, approachable, and connected with quality time for our family is a key part of living a great life. As a busy family, the days can fell long but looking back the years seem extremely short. To avoid major future regrets, make a huge difference in the lives of your kids, and avoid significant issues in the future, we must be intentional about it, fully present, and supportive throughout some of the most sacred moments of our children’s lives. It is never to late to develop new habits to try and be the best parents possible. Taking the time to make sure that our relationships with our kids and significant other are prioritized above our careers and other outside interests will only help us to stay focused, more productive at work, and less distracted at work. I believe the biggest way we show our kids we love them is with our time. Its not giving them toys whenever they want it, its not going on insane family trips, or having all the right answers when things go wrong…its just be there…available..undistracted. Going to their games, doing homework together, watching movies, getting to know their friends, being involved in the activities that’s most important to them is simply investing your time in their lives.. shows you care. A wonderful resource & well researched book series about this topic is from Dr. Meg Meeker who wrote ‘Strong Fathers Strong Daughters’ & ‘Strong Mothers Strong Sons.’
FAMILY & FRIENDS: The most exciting and painful experiences in many people’s lives come from relationships. Our family and friends deserve an important spot in our lives no matter the situation. Regardless of your past experiences, learning to be a good friend, son or daughter, brother or sister, etc… allows us to live a life that celebrates and blesses other people. A full life that allows us to live from a place of abundance as opposed from a place of scarcity. I’ve hear someone once say that, “friends are medicine for a wounded heart and vitamins for a hopeful soul.” True friendship makes life better and brings new energy and build your sense of belonging. Its been said that you’re an average of the top 5 people you spend the most time with. If you have a toxic friendship, learning to have healthy boundaries, or move on can be one of the best decisions that can be made to ‘living a great life.’ See friends to build your sense of belonging.
SPIRITUALITY: Our spirituality is another valuable component that defines who we are. It provides a purpose, significance, and greater mission
for what our lives are all about. Living with a clear purpose can help us put our daily lives into perspective and give us context and laser focus to many other aspects of life. It helps us see past the superficial and provides us with a deeper meaning for WHY and HOW we live our lives, run our business, raise our kids, and value other relationships. You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual, it can simply be to identify your greater purpose on earth and know what your ultimate mission and legacy is for life.
CAREERS: Our careers are important. Besides putting food on the table and providing better opportunities in life, our jobs can also give us purpose. My job as a real estate agent isn’t something that ‘I do,’ it has become an important part of who I am. Its ok for our careers to define a part of who we are, but not
overtake and rob us of who we are. Many times the demands of my career, if not managed properly, can easily make life exhausting and buried in chaos reacting to the thousands of tasks & responsibilities that have to happen. For many of us in entreprenurial positions, there are huge risk and heavy burdens that can accompany us every day. We must learn to manage the stress, organize the tasks, prioritize the work load, and develop better systems ALL while making sure its balanced with life. Our careers are important… VERY important..BUT their is a correct place and time so that we have the ability to engage and provide others with our undivided attention. A great resource about this is a book from Hal Elrod called ‘Miracle Morning.’
OUTSIDE INTERESTS: ‘Passion projects,’ are our outside interests. They give life perspective, recharge our creativity, provide lots of fun, and allow our minds to rest. I recommend making sure you to do something you enjoy every day. I love playing the guitar, but whether your appreciation is for contemporary art, classic rock music, golfing, riding motorcycles, scrapbooking, or fixing up old cars, its important to intentionally include activities that make you excited about life AND have their appropriate place within other priorities.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: This a great way to help others and be a part of a something that’s bigger than ourselves. Maybe it’s a local charity, church, or neighborhood group, maybe it’s being involved in a non-profit or animal rescue, the point is that being involved in our communities provides each of us an invaluable connections, a sense of ownership and belonging for our community, and establishes what its means ‘Living a great life!’
ACTION PLAN: Instead of trying to juggle everything at once, take a time to reflect and honestly evaluate your priorities. Have you begun to prioritize your career over your family? Are their relationship that are negatively influencing you? Are you trying to help others without time the necessary time to take care of yourself? What are you doing to invest in the lives of your family and friends? Are you so overwhelmed and stressed that your numb and lack of passion? Do you need help from a counselor or mentor or life coach to help you shift everything into the right order? Do you need a plan or accountability? Life is multi-demensional and our priorities have to reflect that. I believe that once we have a plan, take action steps to accomplishing our goals and dreams, and get our priorities in their correct place, we will be on track to “living a great life.”