An “exuberant” colleague recently told me how she had dealt with the pain of her divorce. A mentor had given her some advice that brought her up short. Instead of offering her a shoulder to cry on, he challenged her by saying, “Make sure that your purpose is bigger than your pain.”
That became her turnaround moment. She vaulted out of her misery and got on a different path. She found a bigger purpose that totally transformed her life: to ensure every child on the planet has access to education. Today, Cynthia Kersey leads the Unstoppable Foundation, a non-profit that builds schools, trains adults, and helps communities in the developing world get access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare.
Are you thinking big enough? Is your purpose bigger than your pain? Than your exhaustion? Than your feelings of living like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”?
Sometimes when we’re tired or feeling uninspired, we dream of taking a break. Of getting away from it all. Of just going on a great vacation somewhere warm.
Ah, but then, when we come back to reality, the vacation quickly fades and we return to the multi-tasking exhaustion of our daily lives.
We miss out on the adventure of everyday life.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but try this. Instead of pulling back when you’re feeling depleted, reach higher.
Ask yourself what you really care about. Do some spring cleaning. Retire any purpose that you have outgrown. Create a bigger purpose for your life. Put your attention on that.
Speak more boldly. Say your new purpose out loud to your friends. Even to people you meet for the first time. See who wants to play with you. Move away from people who distract you or bring you down. Rally with friends and allies who care about what you care about and want to be in action with you.
Let go of routines that don’t match your new bigger purpose. Change what you read, what you watch, the questions you ask. Focus your curiosity on your new intentions.
Create some experiments. Learn as you go. Enjoy the thrill that comes with exploring new territory. Get your mojo back. Be unstoppable like Cynthia.
Resist the urge to wait for the right time. You’ll only get older. Take the first step.