About three years ago, I started on a journey that would take me to a destination that I had decided I needed to reach. I’m making some head way and I want to share my story with you.
What I hope it shows is the importance of defining a purpose for yourself and persisting until you fulfil it. I hope also that you might take away some practical tips about how you might go about defining and fulfilling your own purpose, no matter what that purpose is. Now although the story is what it is, I think it’d be a little too much to deal with in one hit so I’m going to tell my story of persistence over a number of posts, each post with a practical tip that you might find helpful as you meander along your own journey. So here it goes…
At the time this journey began I was in a state on confusion and feeling damn anxious about what my professional future might look like. I had no idea what I was going to do about it and the situation was really one of the few times in my life that I felt like I was stuck. I knew I had so much more to offer but couldn’t see how it could ever become a reality and felt like I was running out of options. What I did was make a conscious decision to explore what my purpose might be. Big picture stuff I know. I’m not talking about questions like ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’ but more meaningful, real and immediate questions like ‘what value do I add to the people around me?’, ‘how have I grown as a human being today?’, ‘what contribution have I made to others that has helped them grow?’. I had real trouble articulating responses to these questions at the time. I had no idea. I’d show up to work, do my thing, getting some positive feedback from people who cared to notice from time to time. Things were just bubbled along.
I knew for myself that in order for me to even begin to answer these questions of substance in a way that would get me out of the anxious state I was in, I had to change a few things, my purpose being the key. And so the journey I’m sharing with you is towards defining my purpose. My destination: growth and contribution.
Now when you’re contemplating change, often looking at the micro is most helpful and rewarding. As soon as you decide to make a change (which is often the hardest leap to take), looking at the end game is the worst thing you can do.
Tip #1: Start small, one thing at a time, ‘Φασούλι φασούλι γεμίζει το σάκούλι’, however you want to put it, don’t overwhelm yourself with the impossible task of predicting the future. Don’t worry about where your decisions might take you, just make the best, informed decision you can at the time based on everything you know after seeking advice from people that love you. Do this each time you’re confronted with a real decision and the future will sort itself out.
And so that’s exactly what I did. I looked at all the small things one by one and made a list of things that were within my control that I could change for the better, today. From memory I think one of the first things I did was look at the way my desk was set up. I cleaned, rearranged and de-cluttered and that made a real difference for me. From there I slowly moved on to bigger, more meaningful changes that would put me on a path to where I am today, one of which was my job.
Now you’re probably thinking I quit my job and found something more rewarding. Wrong. I stayed put. I knew that making a drastic, reactionary leap like that would only result in the same situation at a different location. I set out to make my then current job more rewarding for me as an individual and at the same time try and add value to others’ situation also. Same job, same people, different approach.
I’ll tell you about that job situation in Part #2 of my story of persistence but I want to just recap Tip #1: start small. Affect change where you can, immediately, progressively, and iteratively – this stuff is easy if all you need to worry about is making a change to one small thing at a time. Just one.