For many years, I woke up and decided that day how we would spend our time.
Would we go out? Museum, park or beach? Would we stay in? Board games, coloring or movies?
With my children, we pretty much floated through our days without any real plan.
Then, in a heart-wrenching visit with my doctor in 2006, I was given the grim news that I had five years to live [which I invite you to read here].
As you can imagine, I became very intentional about how we would spend our time. I consulted local event calendars to find the coolest activities and dragged my kids there. I found festivals and train rides and mud runs and sailing classes and everything in between and we did it all.
Did I notice no one was begging to run through a pit of mud? Not at all! I wanted to see them do everything while I was still here to watch them.
Well, this summer marks my 10th Anniversary of Still Living. When I think back to my life before the crisis and right after the crisis, I was either floating or frenetic, but not necessarily fulfilled.
On my journey to find fulfillment, I became a small business owner. Soon after, my friend Sara coached me that I must always let my purpose drive my plan.
Her advice sounded so obvious that I sort of dismissed its magnitude.
So then I mentioned I wanted to host an event, she immediately asked me to state my purpose. Was it to build community? Sell products? Grow my membership? Give back to my sponsors? All valid ideas, but if I wanted to sell products, I would need a very different event planning strategy than if I wanted to throw a huge thank you party.
She said it again.
Define the purpose, then make the plan.
After that seed was planted, I started to see that it applied to all areas of my business.
What was my purpose at this networking event? What was my purpose for this product launch? I was totally living the motto.
Around that time, we were stuck in a cold and rainy period. I decided I needed a break and so we took the family to Disneyland for four days. We came home tired and a bit cranky and Sara came over with some cookies. As she watched me fuss around the kitchen, she smiled sweetly.
Sara: You seem a bit unsettled. Why did you go on this trip?
Me: Oh, I just wanted a break.
Sara: What does a break look like for you?
Me: Well I love to get up early and watch the sunrise by myself, and I love to swim with the kids in the pool, maybe play some volleyball on the beach or read a trashy novel while the kids bury each other in the sand.
Sara: Hmmm… That sounds like a great break. So why did you go to Disneyland?
Me: Ugh… Can you please pass the cookies?
If my purpose was to feel playful and enjoy big rides and be energized with my kids, then Disneyland would have fulfilled my purpose perfectly. But since my true purpose was to soak up the sun and have very little structure, I should have planned a different trip.
Think about your next decision, personal or professional. Define your purpose, make your plan, and let me know how it goes!