One Word for 2014: Purpose

This is my third run for today at thinking about just one word for the year that lies ahead:

"Purpose" created by Barb Chamberlain from bike part images sourced from Google.
Why one word? As biking friend Claire said when she shared this approach on Facebook (inspiring all three of today's blog posts), "Unlike typical resolutions, like 'lose 10 pounds,' these resolutions are not a task to be accomplished. Instead, they are mottoes, mantras, watchwords for the year. You cannot fail at your one-word resolution. You can only have picked the one that didn't fit as well as another one would have." 

I haven't made New Year's resolutions in several years, although in 2012 I tried the three-word approach for my bicycling. Since as a writer I tend to be pretty wordy, getting down to just one is good discipline. (In my post on one word for bicycling I ended up with three possibilities, so you can see this is a serious challenge.)

Why this word? A couple of reasons, really.

1) It fits with my general commitment to living a mindful life. Mindfulness for me means both "paying attention" and "being conscious." 

You can be very mindful in a moment that has no particular purpose, and that's fine. But it would be tough to be purposeful without a certain amount of mindfulness so you notice when you've strayed from your purpose.

2) I have a lot going on and using a "purpose" filter seems like a good way to whack some of the underbrush in a simple way. (Warning: Entering into the confessional portion of this post.)

I'm not going all-out into the GTD (Getting Things Done) world, and I could never finish The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People because it required too much homework that took more time than just being effective.

A couple of years ago, though, I read an article that stuck with me on the difference between having a strategic plan complete with SMART goals, details, timelines, checkboxes, and all the rest, and a strategic direction. Or, put another way--an overall purpose.

I'm paraphrasing and my memory isn't what it used to be, but the way I internalized it was that with a strategic direction you stay nimble and take advantage of new or unanticipated opportunities that keep you moving forward toward being what you intend to be. You drop things that aren't paying off or that appear to have less potential than you had thought they would. (Note to consultants: You need not touch base to see if I will pay you to sort this out and get it right at great expense and in exhausting, exhaustive detail.)

With a strategic direction you still have measurable goals and all the rest that you've determined lies within your context--the what based on the why. The how might adjust a bit as one how becomes more achievable, relevant, or important than another. But it's always a how that moves you in your--you guessed it--strategic direction.

If I had to say what my life's overall strategic direction is, I guess it's heading in the general "save the world" direction. I feel most fulfilled--most purposeful--when I'm doing things I think make the world a better place. Some of the things on my personal list for doing this:
  • raising my children to be responsible and contributing citizens
  • spending time with my Sweet Hubs to reinforce, deepen, enjoy, and appreciate a wonderful loving partnership
  • cooking a hearty soup and cornbread like I did today because I love to feed my family with good homemade food
  • getting more people to ride bicycles because it's good for them, it's good for the planet, it's good for local businesses, and it makes them happy.
Some of the things not on my personal list for making the world a better place that nonetheless have crept into the crevices of my time allocation, in the process elbowing aside other things I would rather give my time to if I really stopped to think about it:
  • Playing Super Bubble Shooter on my cell phone while I wait for the bus (and, okay, while I ride the bus). (Be honest, you have some equivalent mindless pastime. Freecell? Spider Solitaire? God forbid, Farmville? I excuse this with the justification that I spend a lot of time doing brain work so it's okay to do something mindless once in a while, but I just wander off into the app without really making a conscious choice to do so as a relief from said intellectual effort.)
  • Staying up really late watching movies so my sleep cycle is off and I'm not at my best the next morning
  • Getting sucked into Facebook, then Twitter, on a Saturday afternoon and finding myself bopping back and forth between those tabs and reading the links suggested in each without any particular reason until I realize I'm off into the Interwebz somewhere, it's starting to get dark outside, and I haven't gone for a walk or a bike ride. If I had said to myself, "Self, do you want to allocate a full two hours to social media with no particular purpose?" the answer would pretty much always be no, no matter how much of a Twitter queen I am.
  • Letting a whole weekend go by without tackling one of the chores I know will give me a great sense of accomplishment once it's done, like reconciling my Quicken records or sorting out one of the many memory boxes I want to go through to get rid of old memorabilia that I no longer think is worth the storage space. Granted, in any given weekend I probably did some cooking, read some great books on my Kindle, and spent time with Sweet Hubs so it's not as if the weekend is a total dead zone, but they do flash by. See point above about meaningless online social time.
So, purpose. If that were the filter on how I spend my time, I'm pretty sure I'd prune some of the things that act as time sucks. I don't need a list of things to do--that list populates every day. I just need to be more purposeful about how I spend the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else gets.

Now, off to uninstall one or two apps....

No comments :

Post a Comment

Comments are like karma. The more you give, the more you receive. (Spam is like karma too.)