As a mother and teacher, I hear a lot of, “I didn’t do it on purpose!” I’ve had a lot of those “accidents” too. Oh yeah, especially in adolescence and early adulthood!
So what is my purpose? What would happen if I were too busy being on purpose to do things that are not on purpose?
Recently, I’ve been teaching my son to drive. I tell him, “Look ahead to where you want to go; don’t focus too close to the car.” Being in the driver’s seat of life is the same way. When I look ahead to where I want to be, I can purposefully maneuver through life and avoid many accidents and pitfalls. Seeing the whole picture takes care of all the hundreds of little corrections I’ll have to make if I don’t look farther than the end of my nose.
People often say, “Life is a journey…” It’s true. And by intentionally following my purpose, I am guided through the ups and downs, twists and turns, valleys and mountain tops of my journey.
Living on purpose doesn’t mean that I’m not spontaneous sometimes; it does mean I don’t have to improvise because I was careless. It also means that I have fewer hurdles. I don’t run out of gas in the desert, puncture tires on sharp rocks, or sink my car in the river.
I come upon plenty of challenges in life. Why not ease the way by living on purpose?
I’ve done a lot of ghost writing recently for companies that outsource their blogs. Unlike blog posts, however, my life is not to be outsourced. It is uniquely mine and nobody else can live it.
What does this mean? It means that only I can fulfill my responsibilities and only I can fulfill my dreams. It means that if somebody needs to take the bull by the horns, so-to-speak, it’s gonna have to be me.
Nobody else is as qualified as I am to write the story of my life, to make my path, or to face my challenges.
When I take an opinion poll from friends and family about every decision in my life and then base my decisions on their answers, I am effectively outsourcing. While I know a lot of people with valuable opinions about everything, there are times to recognize that my own answers are the best answers. When I allow myself to value other’s thoughts and opinions more than my own, I de-value myself and the gifts I was born into this life with.
It recently became clear to me that I was doing a tremendous amount of outsourcing my life. I realized that any time there was dissension between what I thought to be true and what others thought to be true, my tendency was to immediately abandon my own thoughts, ideas, or beliefs and adopt somebody else’s.
Today, I recognize that I have beautiful gifts to share with the world. Those gifts are valuable, and I am to respect my own value. I am thankful to those people in my life that model this.
How about you? Do you outsource or are you the engineer in your life? Who do you know who is confident, who can look at the picture of his or her life and move into right action? Some people seem like naturals at this. Others, like me, are taking steps—maybe just baby steps at times—learning to drive their own wagon.
Here’s the thing to remember: This is no “band wagon.” It’s your wagon. So jump on it and drive!
I used to save everything. I didn’t want to cut anything out. I thought pruning trees and grapevines and rosebushes was silly.
But lately I’ve turned a corner in my thinking. So I was out a couple of weeks ago, pruning out some blackberry briars. The thicket was just crazy with shoots going every which direction.
Most of the berry-laden branches were in the middle, of course. Where else would they be? I’ve read somewhere that it’s the second-year shoots that actually produce. Then they die. So all of the new shoots were blocking access to the berries and dead shoots stood guard over the fruits.
Using the pruners, I gently separated out the prickly strands and worked my way inward. It became a working-meditation and the whole process became a metaphor for what I’ve been doing lately in life: sorting out all the strands of thought, some I’ve had since childhood, others conceived in marriage and still others born of necessity in more recent times.
The thoughts bobbed and waved before me like the briar branches in the breeze. Like the briars, some of the thoughts I found fruitful, holding promise for the future. Other thoughts were dead. Their time was up and hanging onto them could only mean difficulty navigating today. Still others were new growth, too young to bear fruit yet. Some of these were vibrant and healthy. Others looked stringy and weak or grew in places that prevented me from getting to the good stuff.
Today, I give myself permission to get out my mental pruners and remove unproductive thoughts, old and new, allowing room to reap the present benefits and make space for the fruitful thoughts of tomorrow.