How to: BE PURPOSEFUL
Have you ever had a day where you feel like you are 'dragging'? Where you feel sluggish, and like everything requires more effort than usual?
I am having that day as I write this. I am tired and a bit stressed out about sleep, which has been a nightly battle for some time now (I literally do not understand how people fall asleep, what they think of, what their brains do… my sister assures me "nothing, I think of nothing, I just go to sleep").
Im also dragging because I have a lot of work to do that is in the early stages; it needs to be translated from concept, idea and scribbles into an Actual Thing. The point of transitioning into 'doing' can feel overwhelming, looming over us like a mountain we have to summit. And yet, often when we actually start, the work flows and we wonder where our resistance came from.
Maybe the source of resistance varies from day to day; it could be related to fear of failure, or even fear of success. Sometimes it might be because you're overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of you, even if you're confident that you have the skills and knowledge required to get the job done. Perhaps you just need a break. Or, as I have often found - especially when ‘dragging’ - you need to remind yourself of why you're doing this work.
Purposeful: “having or showing determination or resolve”
It is important to frequently remind yourself of why you're doing something, especially when it feels difficult. When you feel like you have a purpose, it become easier (note: not easy, just not as hard) to push though the resistance and struggle, and get the job done.
There are three steps to achieving our goals:
Understanding what it is we want;
Defining what steps we need to take to get it (or at least understanding what the first step may be);
And, following through. Doing what is required.
Being purposeful is key to succeeding with step three. Once a decision has been made - about something you want to do, or that feels important to you - to be purposeful is to consistently work towards it. It combines your objective with action. It is the difference between being a dreamer, and attempting to live the things we dream of.
When you're purposeful, you do the work even when you don't feel like it, because you understand why it is important to you. You know that you won't regret pushing through any barriers. You understand what the end reward will be, and are determined to work towards that.
CRITERIA FOR SUUCESS: Remaining Purposeful
A sense of purpose often comes easily as the start of a project, when we're freshly filled with excitement, but it can be difficult to maintain when we realise that success can be slow to reach. In this case, how do we remain purposeful?
1. REMIND: Keep your inspiration close at hand. For some, this might be the wallpaper on their phone or a vision board by their desk, depicting their goal. For others, it might be a key word or phrase somewhere you see it every day. Or perhaps it's a few questions that you ask yourself each day to remind you of what you want to feel, do, or achieve.
2. SHOW UP: discipline is required to achieve any kind of goal. Establishments such as school or the workplace, environments in which we spend most of our lives, create discipline for us. So it can feel difficult to follow through when left to our own devices, pursuing a personal goal with little or no pressure from others, no deadlines, no external expectations. Somehow, we must each create our own discipline, whether that be through routine, or seeking an accountability buddy, coach or similar.
Only you can do this work, so take responsibility for yourself. Be active. Feel the fear and do it anyway (to quote Jamie Varon and Laura Jane Williams, "action cures fear").
3. FOCUS ON FEELINGS: how frequently we set ourselves up to fail, by assigning numbers to success. When the needle is slow to move, even if we're not even at our somewhat arbitrary deadline yet, we can feel demotivated, and forget what our purpose was.
Sara Tasker and Hannah Bullivant spoke beautifully on Hashtag Authentic in January 2019 about why they were setting 'tingly' goals for their year, focusing on how they wanted to feel rather than on what they wanted to achieve. By saying 'I want to nourish my body' rather than 'I want to lose half a stone', you're more likely to feel good about your goal, before you get started as well as six months in. The same idea applies to whatever we want: if we make it about the feelings, we'll feel less stress and more enjoyment and we work towards it. It's likely that we will experience those feeling while working, not just as an end goal (unlike numbers-based objectives), allowing us to appreciate the journey.
A (free) helping hand
If this still feels a little confusing or out of reach for you, you can get your hands on a free workbook that will help you to BE PURPOSEFUL. It contains some exercises and questions to help with purpose in general, to re-engage you with purpose, and to keep you on track.