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Originally published in On Purpose Magazine
In order to bring some new perspective to this question, I’ve gathered together some of my favorite quotes on the topic.
“Having a sense of purpose is having a sense of self. A course to plot is a destination to hope for.” – Bryant H. McGill
The word destination reinforces the idea that discovering our purpose is truly a journey. A course to plot also gives us insight into how we can find our sense of self.
When we take a trip, we can map it out or we can head in a general direction and hope we wind up somewhere we want to be. Often, lack of planning can lead to unexpected results, including never reaching our destination. While this can be great for life adventures, it is not wise to approach if we are trying to live with PURPOSE.
It can be overwhelming to think about finding our purpose in one big leap. But, since we are plotting a course, this gives us the power to be able to course correct if we are off-track.
Our journey will be full of new insight, knowledge, connections, experiences, changed circumstances and increased awareness of our sense of self. This gives us a fresh opportunity with each step forward to be conscious in reaching our purpose.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
We’ve all heard this expression before, but is it an idea you are living? Did you take the next step forward towards your purpose today?
Have you also considered that your entire life’s purpose is a journey of a thousand miles? No one step is going to make or break that journey. Every day we are bombarded with “quick fixes” – magic pills, second income streams that will allow us to retire early, internet products to put our businesses on autopilot and more. Sometimes, in a moment of weakness, we might have invested our time or money into these quick solutions.
Embracing the idea that we are on a long journey can free us from the distractions that these quick fixes offer. Instead, we can focus on the first step we need to take to reach our destination.
“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”
– Jack Penn
A goal is used to measure steps in the journey, it is not the final destination. In my business, I’ve worked with clients that have large “goals” that are so big it would be hard to reach them. My advice is to create a S.M.A.R.T. goal – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Without goal setting our purpose remains an idea, not something tangible.
“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” – Napoleon Hill
Failure can be a great opportunity for learning if we can release our fear of failure and instead embrace it as a part of our journey to success. It can be an opportunity to work on one of our own personal shortcomings, as market research or as testing of an idea.
Getting to the point of being able to fail is a HUGE success in itself. It means we have successfully taken the steps to get to that point, and had the courage to reach for a goal. Learning from failure is a sign that you are still moving forward with courage, perseverance and purpose.
“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli
So elegantly put, but I’ll admit, this can be a hard one to really embrace.
Sometimes I know I’m doing the right next step, but because I’m not doing it consistently, it doesn’t have much impact. It’s like exercising once in a while, or just going to a networking event to build relationships every few months. It’s a good effort, but the real secret to success is in doing it on a regular basis.
Other times I’ve tried to do TOO much, TOO fast, and burned myself out. Have you ever made the decision with every single ounce of your drive that you are going to change the direction that you are heading? You’ll tell yourself that starting tomorrow you will do all of the things that you KNOW are good for you.
I’ve psyched myself up for making a huge change, only to wind up right back where I started. Then, I’m really hard on myself because I WANTED to succeed and I knew what I needed to DO to succeed, but yet success was not the outcome.
I reflect on not acting consistently or trying to do too much at once and I’m excited that a great lesson was learned. I’ve gained a new perspective of how I can move forward towards reaching my purpose, and embrace this knowledge of what wasn’t working.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” – Louis Sachar
A-HA! Small steps are do-able, consistently! Small steps get us to our destination faster and easier than trying to take leaps and then stumbling backwards. No more doing the shuffle… many steps side-to-side which don’t lead to progress. By knowing our destination we can take byte size steps forward and achieve our PURPOSE.
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