Living Life With a Purpose

image_living-life-with-purpose

Some people measure success by the wealth they’ve accumulated, the power they’ve attained, or the status they’ve achieved. Yet, even though they’ve reached success beyond their wildest dreams, they still have an empty feeling — something is missing from their life.

In order to fill that void and be completely fulfilled in life, their soul may be searching for something more.

Here are a few scenarios that describe this emptiness:

Lonely at the top. I was obsessed with making it to the top. When I arrived, however, I learned that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I now realize that my continual pursuit of advancement seriously compromised my ability to spend quality time with my family and build meaningful relationships with friends.

Enough is never enough. One of the ways I kept score in life was to compare my toys to my neighbors’ toys.  It felt good for a while, but each “high” just didn’t last. I now know better. I realized that if I’m not careful, the game of life can become an obsession — there will always be people with more and less than I have.

Sold my soul. I would have given anything to be a success. I lied, cheated, and sold my soul to the devil. I understand now that although I’ve obtained fame and fortune, people don’t like or respect me. Knowing what I’ve done, I find it hard to live with myself, and others seem to agree.

All work and no play. I was always the first person in the office and the last one to leave. While my business life has been a roaring success, my personal life has been a disaster. I realize there’s got to be more to life. Balance matters, and I must be the one to make it happen.

Pleased everyone except myself. I never made a move without first seeking the approval of my friends and family. They’re happy, but I’m miserable. I now appreciate that my opinion matters too, and counting on others to make up my mind for me is just a cop-out. After all, it’s my life and I own it.

Lived in the future rather than the present. I spent much of my life thinking about what I was going to do tomorrow. Now that I’m older, I’ve come face-to-face with the reality that my days won’t go on forever; I wish I had learned to savor every special moment as it happened.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, it may be time for a course correction.

Living Life with a Purpose

Although everyone is different, there are common threads that bind a life with purpose.

Live by your beliefs and values. People who live a life of purpose have core beliefs and values that influence their decisions, shape their day-to-day actions, and determine their short- and long-term priorities. They place significant value on being a person of high integrity and in earning the trust and respect of others. The result is that they live with a clear conscience and spend more time listening to their inner voice than being influenced by others.

Set priorities. People who live a life of purpose identify those activities that matter most to them and spend the majority of their time and effort in those areas. Otherwise, it’s too easy to drift away in the currents of life. As Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Follow your passion. People who live a life of purpose wake up each morning eager to face the new day. They pursue their dreams with fervor, put their heart into everything they do, and feel that they’re personally making a difference. As James Dean once said, “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

Achieve balance. People who live a life of purpose put their heart into their career and in building relationships with friends and family. They also reserve adequate time to satisfy their personal needs. Achieving balance means living up to one’s potential in all facets of life.

Feel content. People who live a life of purpose have an inner peace. They’re satisfied with what they have and who they are. To them, the grass is greener on their own side of the fence. As the saying goes, “The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”

Make a difference. People who live a life of purpose make a meaningful difference in someone else’s life. They do things for others without expectation of personal gain, serve as exemplary role models, and gain as much satisfaction witnessing the success of others as witnessing their own. As the old proverb says, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

Live in the moment. People who live a life of purpose cherish every moment and seek to live life without regret. They take joy in the experiences that life gives and don’t worry about keeping score. Dr. Seuss may have said it best, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Start Living Today

The purpose of life is a perpetual question that has intrigued mankind since the beginning of human existence. Without purpose, it’s easy to wander aimlessly through life instead of following your North Star. Without purpose, it’s easy to squander your time instead of waking each morning with an unquenchable thirst to attain your mission. Without purpose, it’s easy to achieve remarkable success and still feel that life is passing you by.

Success in life begins with purpose. When you achieve clarity, you’ll gain a new perspective on your life. When you find your purpose, you’ll feel good about who you are, what you stand for, and where you’re heading. When you discover your purpose, an inner peace will replace the need to seek approval from others. And friends and family will begin to sense a new you: someone who is happy, motivated and self-assured — a person with a mission. People will say that there’s something really special about you. And, they’ll be right! As Robert Byrne once said, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” It isn’t too late to start.

Additional Reading:
The Gift of Giving
The Most Important Lesson in Life
It’s Your Life
Important Stuff in Life

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Comments

  1. Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach says

    Insightful post Frank that can inspire through your analytic assessment of what demoralizes.

    Many obstacles that actually stop growth are unidentified. Once we see them, we can solve them.

    Nice treatment of this subject and I will share with many.

    Kate
    http://katenasser.com

  2. Mark Oakes says

    OUTSTANDING Post, Frank.

    We’ve walked similar paths in our career. I’m glad we both realized the merits of ‘true value’ and course-corrected before the closing curtain :-)

    All my best,

    Mark

  3. Janet Wilkins says

    Exellent ! Some people learn these important lessons later, some sooner, some it comes natural to and some learn the hard way. To all that have learned these incredibly important lessons your lives are so much better for it, and for the ones who haven’t gotten there yet this is a fantastic read to get started. It’s the very simple things in life we so often overlook on our way to find a purposeful life, we over complicate. Thank you Frank for reminding us to take the time, take our blinders off and lead that life of inner peace and purpose.

  4. Peter Goldmann says

    Especially timely, Frank in this season of “more and more”…. It seems unfortunate that the folks who stood in line for hours in the middle of Black Friday Night to get a “deal” on a huge flat screen TV would not have been more content spending that time at home engrossed in a great novel, cooking a fantastic meal, or playing games with the young kids who would soon be numbing their brains in front of that new screen.

    Happy Holidays!

  5. Christopher Avery says

    Thanks Frank. I’m often reminded of visiting with a retired EVP of a Fortune 50 company. He described his forced retirement this way: “When the music stopped, there was no chair for me.” I remember then thinking ‘how empty.’

    On purpose,
    Christopher

  6. Nancy O'Neill says

    As always, your writing really makes a person think. Love the quotes you used in this post, especially the one from Dr. Seuss.

  7. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Kate, Mark, Janet, Peter, Dan, Amy & Christopher

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    This post was inspired by a very special person. She’s a terrific individual and role model. In fact, after writing the post I found myself reading it over and over again.

    Kate, You’re right. Once we identify a goal it’s easier to achieve it. (That is, if we’re motivated to do so)

    Mark, How right you are. And yet I still must remind myself this important lesson.

    Janet. You’re right on the mark. The important thing is to learn this lesson as soon as possible.

    Peter. I can’t agree with you more. We’re losing the true meaning of holidays.

    Dan/Amy Thanks so much for your kind words. The mission of this blog is to spur conversation about the urgent need to reawaken personal values and personal responsibility. I’m glad this post works for you.

    Christopher. GREAT quote. “When the music stopped, there was no chair for me.” So sad. We can all learn from others.

    Nancy, Funny you should mention loving Dr. Seuss’s quote. I mentioned the same thing to my wife yesterday.

    Have a great day!

    Frank

  8. Terry Del Percio says

    Frank: Great post, as always.

    I don’t think we can ever have enough reminders that living from the inside out brings much more powerful and long lasting rewards than from the outside in.

    Thanks for always reminding me about this lesson.

    Terry

  9. Rossana says

    Great blog Frank. So many words of wisdom here that are great messages for all as 2011 closes. We all need to start living in the moment more often and enjoying a life of purpose.

    Thanks so much.

  10. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Stacy, Terry, Rossana

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    Stacy, Thanks for your kind words.

    Terry, Since this post was written, I’ve been back several times to re-read it myself. Turns out, it’s a good reminder for me as well :-)

    Rossana, you’re so right. Living a life of purpose is a worthy goal. The key is to hold ourselves accountable to actually do it. Sounds like a perfect New Year’s resolution.

    Have a great day!

    Frank

  11. Marc says

    Such a great topic and how timely (as Peter pointed out). I think a great number of us here are fortunate to be able choose a life of purpose in so many ways…we still need to make that choice! But we’re very lucky to have it so available to us. Years ago – and still in many cultures – your ‘purpose’ was almost assigned. If your mother/father was a ___, then 95% of the time it meant you would become a ____. Now our children grow up and have countless influences – some not so great, but hopefully many that are amazing (like ourselves, if we choose to be). What they choose as their purpose (not just their career path) is limitless. They still need us to guide them as our parents guided us to the right choices so they can be fulfilled in the deepest way. It’s easy to satiate a young child with the flashy toy they want that all of the other kids have – but it’s hard to teach them as they grow to ‘want for nothing’ and still be satisfied, regardless of means.

  12. Lolly Daskal says

    This is one of the best posts of the YEAR that I have read so far…..

    I believe Frank YOU have summoned up “Living Life with Purpose” with such passion and wisdom -that it leaves me saying “SO TRUE” after reading each sentence.

    This post is stunning- in its delivery, in it sentiments and in its passion.

    I am so grateful that you have taken the time to share from your heart and brilliant mind.

    Grateful to you

    Lolly

  13. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Marc / Lolly

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Marc, you make two very interesting points. First, we’re lucky to be able to choose. Unfortunately, many of us take that for granted. Second, it’s so important to instill values to our kids. As I love to say, “If you don’t teach your children values, someone else will.”

    Lolly, your sentiments mean a lot to me. You were the inspiration behind this post. There are so many people in this world who are takers. On the other hand, you ALWAYS find the time to keep giving. You are an inspiration and role model for me as well as so many others. Thank YOU.

    Best,

    Frank

  14. Lolly Daskal says

    Frank,

    ….. the reason you are able to see beauty in others is because that beauty lives in you!

    I feel you are the BIGGEST GIVER….you ALWAYS find the time to keep giving, helping and caring.

    Thank you for living your life with such passionate purpose.

    Lolly

  15. J. Michael McDade says

    What a great post. Most of the executives I have coached on how to regain their life used one of your examples. It is so easy to get lost in what culture says it means to be successful, but the most important thing is what does your heart say is successful.

    http://eyesoftheheart.com

  16. Keith Thorneburg says

    That is truly a fantastic article. At 35, I feel I’m fairly young in my career. I do think I’m talented in my field of choice, and I do have the drive to succeed. However, I am blessed to have an amazing wife who has helped me see that family is much more important than any career or any salary.

    We have two young children and since I made the conscience decision about two years ago to focus more time on my family, my career and salary have improved greatly. It seems almost illogical but it’s true. I recently changed jobs and have found a company that supports my priorities of family first. I cannot tell you what a difference that has made in my life. I am now working to solidify the notions you suggest above and passing along what I know to the people around me.

    Thank you for your candor, openness, and honesty.

    Keith Thorneburg

  17. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Lolly, cgmagia, Michael, Keith

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    Lolly. You’re the best. Thank you :-)

    Michael / Keith. You guys are so lucky that you’ve learned the lesson of this post so early in life.

    Michael, It’s interesting that we let other people define success for us. You’re absolutely right, “follow your heart.”

    Keith, It doesn’t surprise me one bit that your career and salary took off after you changed your focus. It’s hard to maintain the right perspective when you’re ALL business.

    Have a great day!

    Frank

  18. Laureen says

    Dear Frank,I always find your writing sincere, valuable and wise beyond words. Thank you for always sharing.
    God bless. Laureen

    • Frank Sonnenberg says

      Thanks so much Lau.

      And, thank YOU for sharing my posts with your friends and colleagues.

      I’m still in awe that our posts travel the world and bring us closer. It’s great that they play well in South Africa. I hope all is well with you and your family.

      Keep in touch my friend.

      Best,

      Frank

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