Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be – Part 1: The Purposeful Life

Have you ever had the feeling that you were just “looking and acting the part” in your work life?  Or that somehow you were doing activities that played to your weaknesses and left you feeling drained?  Or maybe even that “if everyone would just do what I need them to….” it would all be easier and better?

First of all, if you have, you are not alone.  Some of the symptoms of this type of disconnect between “the real you” and the “you at work” are:

  • Overwhelm and Rush.  You always have too much to do, and never enough time to do it, and keeping all those balls in the air is wearing you out.  If you could just add a few more hours to the day it would all work out…
  • Urgency overload.  Everything is important and has to be done now, and even small issues feel like major crises.
  • “Silver bullet” mentality, or “next week/month/year I will be in control…”.  This can easily become a pattern in your life where there is always going to be time to enjoy your life after the next (big contract/promotion/raise/startup/joint venture/client).  It will all be better as soon as….
  • Externally-driven Goals and Priorities.  This looks like striving for goals and focusing on priorities that will garner external recognition, like a title, an income level, an award – because of what other people will think of you when you get there.

The worst part is that these symptoms tend to feed one another, and you can find yourself in a spiral of stress very quickly.  I call this the “Driven Life”.

But, there is an alternative I call the “Purposeful Life”, and its symptoms include:

  • Long-Term focus on Fundamentals.  This means looking out into the future and working on things that form the foundation for achieving your long-term vision.
  • Internally-driven Goals and Priorities.  This means setting and prioritizing goals that are based on your personal vision, not based on externally or “system”-driven criteria for success or achievement.  What is really important to you, regardless of what society or your mother think.
  • Vision-based Choice and Decisions.  In the purposeful life, you make decisions from a place of balanced vision and can measure any decision against whether or not it is taking you toward or away from your vision.
  • Priority-driven scheduling to build balance.  Finally, with a strong personal vision, you drive your schedule, your schedule does not drive you.  You put the things that really matter in your plan, and you begin to eliminate the things that do not increase your energy and your ability to achieve the vision.

I have outlined 10 steps to building a career and life around who you were meant to be, not necessarily who you think you are expected to be.  The first one is:

  1. Stop the Rollercoaster and Focus on You

In order to change the way you feel and behave and become the best business person you can be, you have to begin by set aside time to examine yourself and your situation and take the steps required to make permanent change.  This isn’t a 15-minute exercise, either, but rather a long-term commitment to valuing yourself and your unique contributions, desires and goals.

If you think you don’t have time for this, or you don’t have time for this “right now”, look back at the list of “Driven Life” characteristics and realize that you can be stuck in this pattern for life unless you find a way to make a change now, because now is all there is.

In fact, this exercise of becoming the business person you were meant to be can be started in a few hours, but to create meaningful change, I suggest you give yourself a year to allow your logical and emotional minds to collaborate on your vision of yourself, and to fully integrate new thinking and new habits in a sustainable way.  Plan on at least a couple of hours a week over a few months to start.  Build this time into your schedule – what work could be more important?

Next time step 2:  Establish a meaningful personal vision