Seems like it’s not enough today for women to be fulfilled — juggling home, career, family, friends and an occasional hobby. Today we’re pressured to live a full life, one of passion, purpose and prosperity. Just when you think you have it all figured out and can actually sneak in five hours to six hours of sleep at night, you read a blog or see a video of someone else living their “best life.” We’re bombarded by fabulous pictures of fabulous friends on Facebook posting fabulous experiences in their fabulous lives. We’re told to unplug, relax, do yoga, find inner peace and gain real wealth through giving time, tithe and treasure. Who knew that discovering the true meaning of life could be so complicated and confusing? I, for one, had settled on living only my “good life,” but now that I know there’s a “best life,” I kind of want more.
So where does one find their best life?
I began this quest a few years ago. I took up meditation, learned Mahjong, began a diversified reading regime, started writing more, forced myself to participate in cultural events, and fully immersed myself in the art of wine consumption (OK, that last one had nothing to do with the quest, but I swear it helped). On top of this rigorous schedule, I organized my house from top to bottom, began binge watching acclaimed shows, took a few certification classes and joined an advisory board. The result? Still living a “good life,” but now with four to five hours of sleep. At least now I have less time to wonder how everyone else was finding their best life.
Fast-forward to this past year.
While consuming my planned media rations, I started to see commercials and Facebook ads about people who were faced with everyday challenges and sought to find their own solutions. For example, the founder of Untuckit.com, who couldn’t find a decent shirt that could be worn untucked; or the couple who wanted to purchase luxury bedding at an affordable price (Boll & Branch); or the ex-New Yorker fashionista who moved to Los Angeles and couldn’t find a local/accessible meditation studio within which to practice her daily routine while on the go. Each one of them found their purpose by solving a problem. It made me think about how pioneers like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker (both of which donate a pair of products for every one purchased) combined their purpose with a specific passion to help the less fortunate. Maybe they were all on to something.
Then I attended a church mission — a three-night mass schedule to kick off Lent that focused on letting go of the past, accepting and living in the present, and embracing the future. Ironically, the priest’s homily began with finding your true purpose in life. A sign? I thought so. The priest went on to provide a three-point checklist on how to go about doing this. Finally, the answer … directly/indirectly from God! I awaited the epiphany.
He said that the key to finding your passion and purpose in life begins with cultivating a concern. Whether that’s to solve world hunger or provide clean water or rescue abused animals or help end illiteracy or just find a shirt that can be worn untucked — whatever concerns you is at the core of identifying your calling. Seems too simple to have been missed.
He then went on to say that the second step in cultivating your purpose is to find a cause/concern in which you can make an eternal change. Sounds a bit profound, but maybe not. Why take on a challenge that can’t be changed, fixed or solved? Why dedicate yourself to something that won’t make a difference? Eternal change is simply being able to make an impact — no matter how small — that will be lasting. Got it.
And the third piece of the puzzle? The priest said that the last element to finding your passion/purpose is to focus your energy. In our lives we tend to try to do and affect too many things, ultimately diffusing our efforts and minimizing our impact. We get distracted and lose focus. It’s not enough to cultivate a concern of eternal difference unless we dedicate ourselves and attention to addressing that concern. We must be steadfast in prioritizing our energy and working steadily toward our calling — developing a discipline of avoiding distractions. Indeed, the happiest, most fulfilled, best-lived lives I know are people who have a purpose. That purpose could be overcoming physical challenges, changing the lives of others, enhancing the world, solving everyday problems, or simply learning how to be kind and express empathy in the face of hatred and lethargy.
In hindsight, I realized that my quest to live my best life ever was set forth on the wrong path. I found myself on a round racetrack going in circles, seeing the same things, learning the same lessons, repeating the same actions. True purpose is a journey, not a race. It starts with the proverbial single step and moves forward. Always forward. It’s not about winning, getting more, knowing more, experiencing more. It’s about less. Doing at least one thing that will make a difference, and doing it often and with discipline. It’s dedicating ourselves with passion and focus.
Equipped with new insights, I’m now asking myself what concerns me. I’ve spent too much time looking for answers to the wrong questions. For now, I’ll seek solutions and look to finish thoughts like:
Why can’t the world … ?
What if I could … ?
If only people learned to … ?
Give it a try. You might just find your own purpose and begin living your best life. Please just don’t post it on Facebook, no need to brag.
Lucille DeHart is a seasoned marketing professional with over 25 years experience working for such prestigious brands as TUMI, Polo Ralph Lauren, Maidenform, Liz Claiborne and Westfield International.