The One Thing More Critical than New Year's Goals
I know the weighted feeling of to-dos, the exhausting feeling of burnout, and the sinking feeling of having to wake up and do it all over again. When that is seemingly all that life has to offer, you’re left wondering if you have anything valuable to actually contribute to the world around you. Life has a special way of piling on the exhaustion, stress, monotony, and striving, and it can feel like an impossible task to juggle it all and somehow have your purpose still shine through.
We all want to feel that we’re living for something greater than our daily to-do lists, but living with a sense of purpose doesn’t just happen on its own. It requires a significant time investment to think, plan, and define what we value most in life. What we’re naturally driven to do and be may tend toward good, but when we fail to put intentionality behind it, our life gets shaped whim by whim. This eventually becomes exhausting, and what normally brings us great joy in life suddenly begins to feel taxing.
Here’s the first thing I want you to know about purpose: Your purpose is not equal to your skillsets.
Some of the most burned out people I know are those who directly tie their value to what they’re tangibly good at. Competency is what people can observe about you at the surface, but what do people experience from being with you? What convictions do you hold at your core that get amplified when people interact with you that adds to their life in an eternal way? This is what gives life meaning.
Practical example. Let's say that you're exceptional at organization and a detail-oriented planner (skillset). How do you translate this skillset into a virtue that others around you can connect with and benefit from? Perhaps you’re meant to be a living and breathing example of excellence and discipline (value), teaching others what it means to be vigilant with the details and delivering on what you promise. This is the level we should be thinking at as we’re defining our purposes. As long as we allow our lives to get shaped by what we’re good at instead of who we’re supposed to be in the world, we will feel directionless and exhausted.
Now, having a zeroed-in purpose doesn’t make our daily to-do lists magically disappear or guarantee that monotony is gone for good or suddenly turn our lives into a dream where we’re only doing the things we want. It does, however, give us a solid set of values that bring clarity and assign meaning to what we should be putting our energy toward, and it does this on three levels:
1. Values Reveal the Clutter
Clarifying your values will expose areas that may be causing unnecessary strain and excess burden. This could be found in your responsibilities or even in some of your relationships. Let your values keep you honest about this. Stay open-minded and be brave enough to prune, no matter how painful.
2. Values Reframe Responsibility
Once you've pruned what doesn’t need to be there, you’ll have a renewed grace for the responsibilities that remain. No matter how tedious the task or challenging the relationship, you’ll be confident that everything you’re putting your energy toward fits your mission and carries greater meaning.
3. Values Reinforce the Mission
When you’ve defined life values that are truly non-negotiable, they act as a built-in filter for when new opportunities present themselves in life. In other words, your values are a protective buffer that reinforce your purpose and give you permission to the say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things.
I know exactly what you’re thinking at this point. Where do I even start in defining my core values and life purpose? I’m so glad you asked. Having spent hundreds of hours working through this for my own life, my family's, and for our organization, I found myself using similar thought patterns and techniques each time to get zeroed in quickly to what mattered most. So, I decided to turn this into a framework to help you find, define, and clarify your own values and purpose. It’s completely free to download.
This framework will work for you if you faithfully set aside time and you’re intentional with your thoughts and answers. The most amazing part is you’ll end up with a Core Values Code that you can check every decision, assignment, and relationship against. To help you get started, the download will also include a fully filled-out example of my own Core Values Code, which will hopefully get you thinking in the right direction.
It's extremely simple from here . . .
- Download the Framework
- Schedule in the Time
- Clarify Your Values