Knowing your purpose focuses your life. It concentrates your effort and energy on what’s important. You become effective by being selective.
It’s human nature to get distracted by minor issues. Henry David Thoreau observed that people live lives of “quiet desperation,” but today a better description is aimless distraction.
Without a clear purpose, you will keep changing directions, jobs, relationship, church, or other externals- hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in your heart. You think, Maybe this time it will be different, but it doesn’t solve your real problem - a lack of focus and purpose.
The power of focusing can be seen in light. Diffused light has little power or impact, but you can concentrate its energy by focusing it. With a magnifying glass, the rays of the sun can be focused to set grass or paper on fire. When light is focused even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel.
There is nothing quite as potent as a focused life, one living on purpose.
“I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” The Apostle Paul.
If you want your life to have impact, focus it! Stop dabbling. Stop trying to do it all. Do less. Prune away even good activities and do only that which matters most.
Excerpt from The Purpose Driven Life
One of the best things you can do to shift your perspective and create an empowering relationship to your process of setting goals for this year is to understand some key distinctions: intentions, goals and actions.
- Intentions: Your intentions are states of being and authentic desires. In other words, you may have an intention to be peaceful, grateful, joyous, loving, successful, healthy or wealthy. Your intentions are your high ideals and are usually at the root of your motivation for any of your specific goals. Most people don't really want goals like a new relationship, more money or a fit body simply for the sake of those things themselves. You want them because of what you believe you will experience by having them in your life. By starting with your intentions, you get right to the source of what you truly want. Intentions are the core and the magic of all of your goals and desires.
- Goals: Effective and powerful goals are ones that are specific and measurable. You want to be able to track your progress and know for sure if you are reaching your goals or not. This doesn't have to be a competition (with others or yourself) and doesn't have to be filled with stress, pressure, shame or guilt. Having your goals as specific and measurable just makes them clear and more likely to manifest. And, the paradox you have to always remember when setting and working on your goals is that you can't be attached to the outcome—it will make you crazy and take you off course from your real intentions. Your goals simply take your intentions and focus them on tangible outcomes in the world.
- Actions: Creating action-oriented practices that support manifesting your goals and intentions is an essential daily, weekly and monthly process of your success and fulfillment. Coming up with action plans that inspire you, connect to the goals you're working on and fulfill your intentions is vital to all of this. This is where the rubber meets the road and is often the place where things break down. The breakdown of actions usually has more to do with a lack of support and accountability (which then allows you to let life take over and lose your focus) than it does with any failure or weakness on your part. Having practices that help you take the baby steps needed to manifest your goals and intentions is such an important piece of puzzle.
I have always been independent. I like being in control of where I live, what I do, what I eat, when I go, and who I am with. I like creating goals and planning the steps to achieve them. I am an idealist, meaning that I tend to look towards the future and have an optimistic viewpoint. We all want good things to happen in our lives, but sometimes it feels like it’s just taking too long! I have been in that state of impatience lately, but I am coming to realize that it is a direct result of me not trusting God’s plan for my life.
Wait with Patience
I am so worried about what is next and action planning that I am missing the point of it all. Impatience and worry drain us of peace and joy. I want so badly to know what the plan for my life is, so that I can have something to work towards. I want to know my purpose! But right now, he just wants me to wait, and that is the toughest challenge of all. It’s not hard because I don’t trust that God has the best plans for me, but because I am human and I just want to know what the future holds. At this moment, I guess I’m not supposed to know, but I have faith that the knowledge will come when the time is right.
It is time to start living again and stop being impatient for the “next thing.” If we always live in the land of “when I…” or “if only…” we miss out on so much around us. I want to make a conscious effort to maximize my time in the moment. We all have to wait at certain points in our lives. The question is, how do we wait? We can either wait with impatience by just making the time pass, or we can make the most of the in-betweens.
In the Dash
I recently read a poem called “The Dash” which really struck a cord in me. What will really matter in the end, when all is said and done? Will you look back on your life with regrets? What can you change now to make the most of your time?
Read more: When God's Timing Is Taking Too Long
I am missing these perfect domed cappuccinos from Australia. One of my favorite breakky places, Dôme, made them perfect every time. Put two raw sugars in, stir it only half way, and sip the sugary foam off the top while reading Cleo Magazine or Frankie. Then again, I'm sure I'll reminisce about my Dragon Pearl Tea Lattes from my local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, once I move away.
The Flower Fields. I hadn't even heard of this place until this weekend, but it was really fun! I believe the flowers are only in bloom for 2 or 3 months out of the year, so make sure to time it right if you decide to go.
Practicing mindfulness is something that gets stronger every time you do it. I first started practicing it when I was going through a really stressful time in my life, and I don’t know how I could’ve gotten through that time without these practices. I would listen to “Meditainment CDs” that would help guide me in taking control of my thoughts. I’ve listened to them so much, that I could literally recite the first 15 minutes. Basically, mindfulness is taking control of your thoughts in order to enjoy your life better. Mindfulness is using non-judgmental, precise determination to pay attention to the details of our experiences. We can get so caught up in our thoughts that sometimes they control everything we do without even knowing it. So, it is important to regain control and start focusing on the here-and-now. Once you can control this, you can eliminate negative thoughts, false guilt, and the ailments of stress.
So, I encourage you to take a step with me to practice one of these each day for the next week.
Create a mental list of all the things you are grateful for in your life. Write them down and look at them throughout the day. Approach your homecoming and the people you come home to, with peacefulness and gratitude.
Notice your environment: sunlight, rain, the wind, trees, sights and sounds. On your way to work, school, an appointment or your daily errands, be mindful of driving your car, walking, sitting on the subway, arriving at your destination, your state of mind and your thoughts. Are you in the present moment or thinking ahead to what you will be doing next? Notice your body, and let your breathing help you relax your shoulders, soften your face.
Approach meals with mindfulness and gratitude. Really taste what you are eating. Engage all of your senses. Eat them sitting down, rather than standing up or in your car or on the run. Taste every morsel of food and enjoy the aroma and texture of your food.
Allow yourself to be calm and peaceful. Use daily cues as reminders to be mindful: the doorbell, the telephone, a mindfulness bell on your computer, turning on a light, checking your watch or a clock for the time. Every time you hear a cue, mentally become aware of your breath. Throughout the day notice if you are holding your breath, breathing shallowly or deeply...Focusing on your breath and breathing deeply and smoothly is one of the single most effective ways to be present – if you are paying attention to your inhale and your exhale you are in the present moment, aware, mindful.
Notice when you can stop the pressure of pushing to get where you are going and simply enjoy the process of getting there. If you find yourself feeling anxious or impatient, focus on your breathing. Stuck in traffic? Waiting in line? Rather than getting upset, look at this as a perfect opportunity to become mindful, focus on your deep inhale and exhale. You will immediately feel calmer and less stressed.
Commit to taking 15 minutes today to sit and be still. Set a timer, sit comfortably and simply observe your thoughts as they pass through your mind. Become aware of your thoughts and without any judgment, allow them to float, like a cloud out of your mind, coming back to your inhale and exhale.
Whatever you experience in this world, whatever you think and feel, breathe it in, then breathe it out. Be conscious and aware of your experience, without judging. Just be. Just breathe. Live freely in this state of mindfulness.
Michael Greg is a San Francisco based knitwear designer. I can't think of anything better than wrapping up in these cozy knits on a cool San Diego spring evenings by the ocean. Club Couture's leather is the perfect contrast for these knits. So, I sprinkled in some spicy pictures from their Spring 2013 lookbook with Michael Greg's sweet knits. I feel like the two of these designs together sort of represent me... a bowl of sugar and flour fluff with a bit of spice. Gingerbread cookies, maybe? Check out this post from way back when: Betty & Veronica.
The United States of America
San Diego, California, USA
Denver, Colorado, USA
Cottesloe, Western Australia, Australia
Surfer's Paradise, Queensland, Australiawatercolor maps. Okay, I am easily entertained, but it really is fun! You can turn any place in the world into a watercolor! So, of course, I had to choose all the places in the world I would call "home." How cute would these be if I turned them into canvas pictures for my wall? I would love to create a whole wall full of all my homes around the world. It's crazy to think how many places I have been, and I am only 24! I wonder where else I will call home in the future...
Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA.