“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”Aristotle
You’re standing in the check-out line and see the headline of a magazine.
It’s a favorite actor of yours and he’s broken up with yet another girlfriend. You pick it up, eager to know the details of his life.
At the same time, you grab a Milky Way bar from the rack below it.
Hey, it has the word “milk” in it. Can’t be that bad, right?
Even if your shopping cart is filled with gluten-free items and organic vegetables, those two last-minute purchases could wreak havoc on your intellectual and physical life.
“But it’s just a magazine.”
True. They’re everywhere.
Some people spend a good portion of their lives chasing down stories and writing articles for those magazines.
Other people spend their lives creating fascinating advertisements for those magazines, tantalizing bits of copy, teasers on the front page to grab your attention, as it did in the above scenario … or often does.
More likely than not, every other page on the magazine is filled with glittering glamorous pages of under-weight women or over-muscled men whose figures have been photoshopped to perfection …
And whose presence on the page next to a brand of automobile or perfume or denim tells you, “If I buy that, I will be that.”
And the other pages are filled with what my mom often calls “UI” — useless information.
What will the knowledge of the latest celebrity break up do for your intellectual growth?
What about every other article in the magazine as well?
How will it help you progress toward what you truly want to become?
Perhaps the base of such decisions is that you don’t know what you want to be.
- You don’t have a picture in your mind of who you want to be.
- Your life has few goals, if any.
You have not delineated your life into day-tight compartments and determined a growth plan for each of these areas:
At the core, you do not have a sense of purpose that drives you in one or all these areas.
So, what is your purpose?
A person’s unique and personalized purpose is, well, just that.
It is unique.
It is different for each person.
But there is a way to define it across the board so that no matter who you are, what your background is, and where you hope to be going, and how far you feel you are from that place …
You can adopt this simple statement and then make it unique for you.
“My purpose is to utilize my natural talents, and strengthen my learned skills — mental, emotional, physical and spiritual — in order to excel, create, find joy, and bring joy to others.”
If you have something like this as your personal motto, you can run every decision — big or small — through it.
Will reading a magazine be a great way to strengthen your skills, or would it be better served by reading a book in an area of interest?
Or to spend that time with a child or an older person and mentor?
What is something that you have in your power to do that you know would change your life?
- It might be waking up an hour earlier to spend an hour reading, reflecting, and in personal growth.
- Or letting go of a practice or habit that you know is doing you no good.
- It might be adding exercise to your daily schedule
- Or making a daily schedule, so you know where those 24 hours every day are going.
What is your essential purpose?
Can you answer it in a sentence? In two?
In a paragraph?
Or does your mind short circuit at the thought? If so, you haven’t given it enough thought, and you need to.
“My purpose is to make the most of the gifts and talents I have been given, and to follow my callings, wherever they may lead, in order to convey the importance of purpose and living with meaning with others.”
Ask yourself these important questions:
- What activities make me happy?
- What makes me happy emotionally?
- What stimulates my mind intellectually?
- What brings joy to my spirit?
- What are my skills?
- What are my natural talents?
- What are my interests [things you pursue now or would if you had the time or money]?
- What are my strengths?
You don’t need to know the answers to all these questions, of course.
But you should be working your way through them and asking them to yourself on a regular basis.
Because understanding who you are, what you love, and what brings you joy are key to living a life of purpose, passion, and meaning every day.