Is Your Ladder Leaning Against the Wrong Wall?
Excerpts & Contents
How to Use this Book…2
The Purpose of a Personal Mission Statement…3
The Purpose of Purpose…4
Desired Outcomes of Discovering Your Purpose…6
Focus: The First Step in Living A Balanced Life…9
Process of Balancing…11
Exercises for Current Reality…13
Release the Past…18
Values Clarification Exercises…23
People in Your Life…32
Completing the Puzzle…35
Personal Mission Statement, 1st Draft…37
Sample Personal Mission Statement…38
Life Balance: A Journey, Not a Destination…39
Discovering Your Purpose…41
Uncovering Your Passions…42
Do’s and Don’ts of Purpose Statements…52
Sample Purpose Statements…55
Continuing the Journey…57
Next Steps: Living Out Your Purpose…60
Desired Outcomes of Discovering Your Purpose
Four major outcomes are available from discovering and living out your purpose. Some of these outcomes are also available from writing a personal mission statement. Discovering your purpose, however, allows you to get to an even deeper level of who you are.
1. Direction – You are probably on some kind of path, but I doubt that you would be studying this material if you thought that path was right for you at this point. You probably did as I did (and most people do).You have gone along in life, reacting to things that came at you and making choices based on what seemed to make sense at the moment — basically reacting to life.
An example of this is demonstrated by a client of mine — a very intelligent and successful woman. A college friend, who was also a role model told her she would be good at information systems so she majored in that in college. Her brother told her she would be a good consultant, and now she is an accomplished information systems consultant. She is very good at her job and just received a substantial raise. Yet, she does not like it. She initially chose her path based on what someone else suggested that she do.
Have you ever done that? Other people love to give advice and tell us what they think we should do. They have good intentions, but the real answers are inside of you. Others may know what some of your skills are, but they do not have a complete picture of you — your passions, natural gifts, fears, and dreams. Only you have access to that information. Retrieving that data is the key to discovering your purpose.
When you know your purpose and choose to live it, you can chart your own course in life. When you choose your own course, you are able to perform beyond your own resources. Your confidence rises. Your motives are pure. The Universe lines up to help you and you are able to accomplish things you never thought possible.
2. Making Choices Easily – Choices become easier when you know your purpose. Opportunities present themselves everyday. Sometimes it seems as if we want to do them all. After all, we don?t want to miss out on anything. Do we? When you are clear about your values and your purpose you know if an opportunity is in alignment with that or not. Making the decision then becomes easier.
Prior to founding the Center for Balanced Living, I was Vice President of Human Resources at a graphic arts company in Atlanta. One day we had a meeting with a couple of the senior corporate VPs and the senior management team of our local office. The corporate head of HR looked at me and said, “Stacey, we want you to be Regional HR Manager and be responsible for all of the Atlanta locations and possibly the other Southeast locations as well.” I looked him straight in the eye and very calmly said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” He seemed befuddled and scratching his head, repeated his statement. And once again, I said “Thank you but no thank you.”
I want you to know that this was definitely not normal for me. I had always been driven to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, and here I was turning down a position of higher status and eventually, pay. But for once, this posed no temptation. You see, I had recently become clear about my purpose and I knew that being Regional HR director was not in alignment with it. As a matter of fact, I knew the promotion would take more time away from it. I didn’t?t need to go home and write a pro-and-con list, or have a conversation with anyone. The choice was self-evident. And I was totally at peace with it.
3. Sense of Fulfillment/Passion – A sense of excitement and adventure grows from connecting with your unique purpose, and a profound satisfaction comes in fulfilling it. I recently had a client who lives in Tampa tell me that she felt as if she were high all the time. She just wasn?t used to being this happy. In fact, she wasn?t used to being happy at all. After feeling this way for about three weeks, she traced it back to discovering her purpose. Nothing else in her life had changed. She hadn?t changed jobs and wasn?t in a new relationship. But she was being her purpose in life everywhere she went. And she was lit up.
4. Balance from the Inside-Out – When you truly get your purpose at the core of your being, you are living it all the time. At this point, your sense of self comes from inside of you, rather than outside. You are balanced within, and able to hold steady when life?s surprises pop up. You may waiver and even falter a bit, but you probably won?t fall because your sense of self is not based on external sources or circumstances. This is called ultimate balance ? and it is a lifetime journey.
All of these things are available from discovering and living out your purpose. I am not suggesting that knowing your purpose will cure everything that ails you. But living it, staying on course with it, and overcoming the fears affiliated with it, can provide a life filled with more joy than you can possibly imagine.
Inherit values are values that we inherited from others, but we live as if they are our own. We inherit values from our parents, mentors, bosses, culture, society, etc.
Often these values run our lives at a subconscious level, i.e., they are always in the background. Many of us wake up one day and find our ladders against the wrong walls because we have been moving through life as if through a tunnel, going straight forward, dealing with whatever comes our way, and then moving forward again. These inherit values? are always in the back- ground, affecting our decisions as we move from point A to point B to point C.
My own mom valued safety and perseverance, and that pretty much ruled the decisions made in our household. Dad valued beauty and perfectionism. My parents generation valued hard work as the way to survive. My culture — Judaism — values intelligence and achievement. When I was growing up, much as it still is today, society placed high value on the traditional family — husband and wife, two kids, a house, and a dog…until death do us part.
What were the values you inherited? How many of those still fit for you?
I followed those inherited values for many years. I lived a pretty stable life: was smart and achievement oriented, climbed my way up the corporate ladder, and reached a high level of recognition and monetary success. I got married at age 23, built a nice house with plenty of beautiful furnishings, owned a boat, etc.
Over the years, as I got in touch with what did and didn?t work for me, I moved on. I left an unhappy marriage at age 32, and my “successful” career at 38. I was the first in my family to do either. In each case, I found that my ladder was leaning up against the wrong wall. Being married for the sake of being married was not enough for me, and my career, although quite an achievement, no longer seemed to fit.
In looking back, I can now see that the biggest thrill my promotion to Vice President brought was receiving flowers from my parents, not from the title.
We often live out our parents? desires and expectations for us rather than our own. I see it time and time again with my clients — creative dreams squashed because someone said, “You can?t make a living doing that,” or they watched their parents suppress their own dreams and modeled their own behavior after them. I had a client who showed me two pictures hanging on his walls. One was of his mom as a flamingo dancer and the other was a watercolor his dad had painted. He said to me, “Both my parents were artists, but they lived as accountants.” He, too, was living in his parents? footsteps and suppressing his own creative talents. What are your inherited values?
Values Clarification Exercises
1. In clarifying your values, use the list of “Sample Values” included as a guideline, and add any others that may apply to your life. Start by identifying your Inherit Values. Use the form by the same name and list the top values of your:
b) dad (or the people who raised you),
c) culture (predominant environments in which you were raised, i.e., rural south, strict Irish Catholic, inner city, etc.) and
d) the mentor or boss who has had the biggest impact on your life.
You will need to guess as to what each of these peoples? values were. Base it on the way they lived their lives and the things they said during a time when you were around them a lot and most impressionable.
2. After listing out the top values for each of these significant roles in your life, circle those that you believe are running your life and your decisions today. Cross out those that are not working for you. Try not to place any judgment on yourself, or the roles other?s have played in your life. Recognize that it is all a part of the journey.
3. Next, take a look at the current reality of your life. Based on the way you live your life today, and the way you have lived over the past few months, what are your current life priorities? Note again, that this has nothing to do with shoulds. Forget about the way you think you should be living your life or the way others think you should be living. The goal here is to capture the current reality of the situation so that you will have a place to start in creating your future.
* You may find narrowing these down to five difficult. Note that this does not exclude other values that are important to you. For this exercise, you want to select the top five. They will be those values upon which you spend the most amount of time, energy, and thought. After you have listed the top five, re-list them in order of priority as they show up in your life currently (not as you think they should show up).
4. The next step in this values-clarification process is to think about your ideal life…