Determining Your Purpose in Life or Process

Brainstorming

Occasionally, you should take time out to stop and evaluate why you are doing the things that you are doing.  Slow down to think if what you’re doing is the best idea or not. Brainstorm with pen and paper (yes, actually grab a pad of paper and a pencil).  The best ideas come by brainstorming, which provides an opportunity to evaluate your productivity, your methodology, and your overall goal. Brainstorming brings diversity of knowledge and perspectives effective for a more forward looking career. Brainstorming is a great activity, but it’s also good to talk to someone about what you are doing, in order to help establish the purpose.

Mentor Review

Take someone you admire out to lunch and pick their brain.  Tell them about what you are doing to get feedback from them.  Write down their responses, whether you believe them or not, and thank them for their time.  Make sure you pay for their meal.  Successful people like to share what they know (that’s why I have this blog) so don’t be afraid to ask them.

Technology Review

Also, keep yourself up on new technology and continue educating yourself to keep yourself alive and fresh.  It’s easy to become stale no matter what business you’re in.  Try to spend at least 2-3 hours a week just researching and finding new ideas.  It’s hard to break away from the normal routine but brainstorming with new ideas is refreshing and can renew enthusiasm.  This is part of innovation and entrepreneurship, which looks for innovations in changes in technology, among other things.  It could be that the way you have been doing things is no longer relevant at worst or at the very least, no longer efficient.  Ask yourself the following four questions:

1. Is there any new technology I could be using? — Technology may have become more efficient since you first developed your original time-saving method. Relying on an old template could be costing you time and money.
2. Have I learned any new ideas lately that I need to apply here? — You may have acquired some new skills or read about some new ideas that will handle your project even better than the time-saving technique that you are using now.
3. Are there new requirements that mean that I need to review this process? — The client may have updated his or her requirements for their projects. Using your old template or time-saving tools may not meet the client’s newest requirements.
4. Are there any other new tools I could be using? — There may be new tools or resources available to do the work that weren’t originally available when you developed your template.

Personal Brainstorming

At least once a month I block off an hour to go into a dark room and just wait for ideas to come.  I don’t anticipate thinking about any one thing, but there is something about the pitch black silence that allows great ideas to surface.  I’ve had many revelations, not just about business or problem solving, but figuring out why I thought certain ways about certain things.  It’s a chance to re-evaluate all aspects of your life and help you determine your purpose in life or in process.

People Watching in Utah

I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City airport.  I’m casually doing some people watching.  There is a women’s college basketball team that has gone back and forth in their matching kelly green hooded sweat shirts and sweat pants.  They seem to be on their way to play a game, but they could be returning.  They are loose, laughing, casual, and seemingly a bit boy crazy.  They look my way now and again, maybe wondering if I am married or not.  It’s flattering, but I can’t really see myself “with” any of them.  It’s not that they aren’t physically attractive, they just can’t capture my attention at this point in my life.

I have also noticed a good amount of older couples meandering through the terminal.  It’s interesting to notice all of their similarities, and not see too many differences.  They seem to move in tandem, with one leading the other.  So far, more men leading than women.  Both seem a little resigned to be with the other.  They probably want to go to the same place, but they don’t seem to be enjoying the journey to get there.  I look at the women and try to imagine them as girls once again.  Maybe they played on a basketball team at some point, “back in the day”.  Maybe they were boy crazy at one point too.  Maybe they latched on to one of these boys and ended up marrying one of them.  Walking down the aisle with stars in their eyes.  An end of innocence, a turning of the page.  But a page that they turn willfully, proudly, passionately even.

The group of people I have been most struck by today have been the middle aged mothers.  I have always been drawn to young children.  Their joy for life is often impossible to contain, even in a sterile airport in February.  But its their mothers that are speaking to me today.  Not literally, but in the looks of pride on their faces.  There is a tangible sense of “I’m doing it!” beaming from them every time someone mentions how cute their son or daughter is.

I’m not sure if it is this place, or my perspective that is different today.  Typically, the mothers I see tend to be worn out, beaten down, and ready for a break.  Perhaps it is the completion of the flight that is reason to celebrate, or at least smile for a bit.  Maybe it is the anticipation of the destination and the impending joy for their children and the trip that is almost upon them.  Maybe it’s none or all of these things.

Maybe they saw the green machine basketball girls too.  Maybe they remembered what it was like to have such a fun and enjoyable task as a “job” and the excitement of a possible flirtatious encounter.  Maybe they saw the older couples as well and felt a different sense of pride for them, like an appreciation of a race well run.  That comfort of a companion who has cheered the same victories, and fought the same fights.  It’s something they look forward to, although with the same longing for love that they had as a young woman.  They seem to know that either way, there is a lot of life left to live, especially for their kids.  I’m happy to believe that these women still have for their own fulfillment and joy to long for and live in.

The Joy of the Journey

It is a long way from beginning to end, but there isn’t time to wish you were somewhere else on the journey.  Maybe you have kids, maybe you have a career, maybe you are student.  If you have starting something that you know will continute in the the future for a considerable amount of time, it only makes sense to enjoy it.  A lot of things in life feel like you “have to”.  The solution is to change your thinking into understanding that you “want to”.  Search around the site to find more ways to grow into this way of thinking.

How to Have a Happy New Year

How to have a happy new year:

1. Tell yourself you are going to have a good year.  Give up on the thinking that for every good thing that happens there will be something bad.  It doesn’t have to work that way, but will if you want it to.  Say you are going to have a good year and that it doesn’t have to be offset by bad.  Then write it down and speak it out loud.

2. Ask yourself what you want.  Be specific.  Narrow it down by using actions and places.  What do you want to accomplish at home? What do you want to accomplish in your business life? What things would you like to own? Where might you want to go to see or show someone?  Write down your answers, then speak them out loud.

3. Take inventory of your assets and liabilities.  Surround yourself with family and team member who share your positive outlook on life and eliminate or narrow your exposure to those who are constantly negative.  Cut out things in your life that are busy work or that are uncessary.  Ask yourself why you are doing something.  If you don’t know the answer, stop.

4. Take a step towards one of your goals each day.  Action cures fear.  A goal like debt reduction or quitting your job can be scary and seem insurmountable.  It is probably impossible to do in one step so don’t.  Figure out the next action, then write it down.  Speak the action out loud and set a deadline of accomplishing this action within the next 8 hours.

5. Develop a system to manage your thoughts or ideas.  If you’ve followed these steps you have been writing things down.  They may be on the back of an envelope, on a receipt in your car, or in an email or text message.  USe whatever you feel comfortable with to collect these musings into one cohesive place.  Only use a calendar for hard and fast dates, not for action items.  Try to avoid using email as your method of choice if possible.

6. Relax. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take time to smell the roses and the aftershave.  Unplug.  Check your email less often. Read the news less.  Take more walks.  Lay down outside.  Feel the ground. Decompress.  Take a deep breath at least once a day.  Laugh. Forgive. Love. Visit your mother wherever she is.  Don’t make lists, take actions. Conquer fear.