We seek balance and a greater degree of control as if balance and/or control are missing ingredients to achieving happiness and peace of mind. They aren’t. As discussed in the previous installments, the missing ingredient is not working harder and striving more. That is what some experts call flailing.
The missing ingredient is a more clear awareness of the first of two things outlined in Part 1: knowing your priorities.
Unfortunately, we usually busy ourselves with what we fool ourselves into thinking is vitally important without establishing and maintaining a laser-like awareness of our priorities.
In other words, we get busy doing (remember, the action of doing is the second item) without first knowing exactly what we ought to be doing.
The secret really is first things first. Having a clear picture of what needs to get done and why it needs to get done seems so elementary, but rare is the person who applies this discipline on a daily basis. It is the secret to accomplishing things that matter.
Knowing for sure what the right priorities are for us, individually, can feed into weekly and daily to-do lists that actually make a difference. That is, if you’re into lists. Either way, this “knowing” will do more to bring about a sense of satisfaction and peace of mind than Zanax could ever hope to achieve.
As we move on, let us keep in mind that being clear about what we really ought to be doing at any given time, based on our priorities, is one of the most overlooked ingredients to real peace of mind.
So, how can we know that the activities that populate our priority lists really do reflect our priorities? It turns out that determining what your life’s real priorities ought to be can be a fairly quick and simple process.
Zeroing in on what your priorities ought to be will start to crystallize when we know two other things. They are both also represented by a word that starts with a “P”: Passions and Purpose.
If you know what you are really, really passionate about – knowing what activities in life that really excite you – then you are close to knowing your purpose. Your purpose is found in pursuing your passions. It follows, then, that your priorities will just tumble forth on the fly, as you begin moving toward your passions and away from what does not really get you fired up.
Some people feel strongly that they know their purpose in life, but they have never really given themselves permission to think deeply about their own passions. For example, I have met mothers who say that their primary life purpose is being a world class mom.
Respectfully, I disagree. That is a role, not a purpose.
We have all heard of CEO’s who started in the mailroom and worked their way up to the top leadership position in the company. They made that steady climb through the ranks because they were clear about their passions and purpose.
The same is true of people like former presidential candidate Herman Cain who decided to make the risky move of going down before going up. He went from being one of the vice presidents at Pillsbury to being an assistant manager at a Burger King restaurant (a unit of Pillsbury) because he was passionate about eventually becoming a CEO.
Cain knew that staying with Pillsbury corporate would not afford him the opportunity to be a CEO. His move through the ranks of other Pillsbury companies, like Burger King, is how he ultimately became the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, another unit of Pillsbury.
Knowing your passions is like shining a spotlight on your purpose. This, in turn, naturally highlights what your priorities are, which leads to the actions; the many baby steps that must be taken down the road toward accomplishing your dreams and fulfilling your purpose.
Being a dedicated parent is a blessing to both the parent and the child, but each of us has a set of passions that are pretty unique. They tend to go far beyond being extremely good at a job or a certain life role. To be sure, passions tend to explain why someone is so good at a particular job or life role.
Plug those passions into your unique personality and your life purpose will be expressed by you in ways that are as exclusive to you as your fingerprint. No one else in the history of the world will pursue the set of passions that set your heart on fire in the way that you will.
Specifically, why do you love being a mom? What is it about being an especially good loan officer or math teacher that makes you look forward to going to work every day?
If you’re not currently doing something you are passionate about, at least take the time to write down what those things are. Right now many millions of people feel like they have been forced to take jobs of necessity rather than what they really want to be doing. But writing down what you are really, really passionate about is a solid step toward the unveiling of an awesome purpose to pursue.
In the next installment, we start bringing it all together, including why we are talking about passion and purpose and priorities in a discussion about balance.