“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as
much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”
Joseph Campbell

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I chose to stay in and have a quiet evening. We each printed out a SMART goals worksheet, and spent the last half hour of 2016 very specifically defining one thing we wanted to accomplish in the start of 2017 and how we would do it.

To keep our goal timely, we set the deadline for March 31st so we had an end date that didn’t feel abstract. On that date, we will again sit down with our goals sheet and create a new goal for the next 3 months, and will continue to do so every three months for the rest of the year.

In doing so, we engage a profound aspect of life purpose that I’ve neglected to discuss in the past: In order to have purpose you must give yourself purpose.

This gets into the “rightness” and “alive” feelings people most associate with and crave in seeking their purpose. I’ve now been running my own business for 8 years doing the thing I love most. However, I still contend at times with feeling like I’m just floating along and not really engaging life. How I spend my day doesn’t feel important, and over time this erodes my passion and desire to do my work. Specific, focused goals help this change.

My goal for these 3 months is to go to bed early and wake up early every day. This tightens the thread around my days, and gives a sense of importance to how I spend my time. This is different from being busy – I’m currently running two businesses and going to school full time, I’m very busy. It’s about cultivating a meaningful life.

By making it important that I go to bed early, the part of my mind that says it doesn’t really matter what time I sleep or when I do my work is gently corrected. Now an integral part of my life – long dismissed as unimportant – has meaning and I am a little more connected to life.

Without structure purpose will float. Purpose is an energy force, independent of action. It’s the wind that fills the sails, but without sails to fill it can feel empty. Your purpose is already here, it’s the unique signature of you that changes the world. Whether or not you feel tuned into it, by creating a sense of meaning around how you spend your time you begin to feel the power of your purpose.

My husband’s goal for these 3 months is to make several things. He loves building and crafting usable objects like lamps, fountains, and furniture and knew it was his purpose, but it never seemed like a priority. Now he’s got a structure for doing it in addition to his day job, and a commitment to accomplishing specific tasks related to it each week. Now it feels important.

When it matters that you get enough sleep at night, or pursue something that’s long interested you, or something else that feels small until you do it, you begin to live a purposeful life.

My suggestion: pick one thing that challenges you that you’ve long wanted to do. It can be a habit change like mine, or a dream like my husband’s. Using an aid like the SMART goals worksheet can help. If you have trouble thinking of something, make a list of everything that’s ever interested you and pick one thing from that list to explore first. Commit focused time to it each week, and you will find purpose in 2017.

For more help meeting your goals, check out the Hold Me Accountable group here.