February 11, 2008
Life's purpose… over the years, we have heard myriad philosophies about it. Gurus teach everything from multi-tasking to mission statements. Reading the articles, books and blogs gives us inspiration when we are overwhelmed by what is now affectionately known as the rat race. Sometimes, though, life is too demanding to find inspiration in the minds of others. Sometimes, we need our own focal point that gets us from here to there on a day when the schedule is crazy and patience is hanging by a thread.
Being moms, one of our top priorities is to raise honest, compassionate, intelligent children. We'd also like to grow our marriages, serve our communities and churches, provide support to our extended families, bond with our friends, run our businesses and maybe take a nap now and then. Add to those lofty goals the more menial tasks such as housekeeping, exercise, meal planning and feeding the kitty, and you have a schedule that has you on autopilot 99% of the time.
The key to life isn't cramming as much as we possibly can into already demanding days. We don't need to take everything one step further. Instead, let's take it a few steps higher. We need to step out of our everyday and find our Big Picture.
What do I mean by Big Picture? On the days we are swept up in life's tornado, we need a compass to find our true north. The only way to find that true north is to rise above the twister. We can then see what we are trying to accomplish. We can determine why we are doing what we are doing. This allows us to eliminate (yes, I said it) eliminate, activities that do not bring us closer to our life's purpose. It is only after the analysis that we have a compass to point us on the right path. We want to align all of our activity with our priorities so that we have the freedom to act on our priorities.
Your Big Picture is going to look a whole lot different from mine. It will also differ from your mother's, your sister's, and even your best friend's. We can lift each other up through life, but no one can walk your walk for you. So, how do you stay on track? By asking the Big Picture questions.
What is your Big Picture?
(By the way, just for fun, I created this exercise as a pdf file that you can download for free.)
What do you value most on this earth?
How do you want to live?
What motivates you?
What are your contraints?
How can you use those constraints to your advantage?
What do you feel called to impact?
What do you see in your present life that will help you do so?
What can you put in your future life that will help you do so?
Today, I challenge you to grab a notepad and your favorite pen, and write down what your Big Picture looks like. Look past the soccer practices and the music recitals, the church pot-luck supper and the dirty laundry. Examine what you want your life to look like right now. Then, re-examine what it would look like if you knew tomorrow was your last day to make a difference. The outcome you want from this exercise is the middle place… the steps in between. We are often told to imagine our eulogies. Realistically, though, you have a life to live between now and then. There are tasks (like diapering the baby) that need to be done whether or not they are part of your 100-year plan.
Now, take a look at what you long for and what you have, and create a ladder between the two. Examine what you can do today that will get you where you want to go. Then, examine what you have today that is fulfilling your purpose.
I'll give you an example, I am homeschooling my children in the here and now. For our family, it is the best choice out of all possible options. The outcome I envision is a pair of educated, intelligent men, who are a joy and inspiration to others. This is what I can do today to further that outcome.
To the other end, I am running this blog and my website, www.askprofessormom.com to provide resources and encouragement for moms, especially those of the homeschooling variety. What I have now is my education experience and business background. I may want to use those skills to have more influence on our community and the world in general. However, right now I need to contribute from my home because my family needs me. By using these big skills in my own small way, I can contribute to the future.
This is a powerful exercise. If you keep coming back to your results, you will be able to ground yourself a little more firmly during your days of chaos.
Stay the Course, ladies!