We are a society of distractions. Television, cultural norms, responsibilities, schedules, busy-ness…it all culminates to eat away at our waking hours, leaving us with precious little time to just “be.” When we finally reach the bottom of the checklist for the day, the week, the month, physical and mental exhaustion tends to overpower that meaningful, creative endeavor we keep saying we’ll pursue, someday. The liberating truth is, we have time. Don’t be tempted to stop reading if you disagree. I’ve lived out much of my life convinced that having disposable time for creative expression was a luxury. How very wrong I was. It’s an absolute necessity. While there’s a lot of talk about balance in our personal lives, there is little to no valuable insight offered as to how we achieve it. I once saw balance as a pie chart of life comprised of work, social interaction, relationships, spiritual practice, responsibilities, obligations, and exercise. Bleh. How uninspiring, checking off boxes that supposedly form a “whole” person. No. I have undergone a complete shift in my beliefs around balance and I don’t think I’m way off in saying most everyone could benefit from this platform. Before work, before relationships (gasp), before paying bills and completing our to-do list, we must have purpose. Without it, everything else on the pie chart suffers. With it, our time is leveraged. Purpose enhances every other aspect of our life. Think of the times when you’ve felt completely uninspired, discontent, fatigued without real cause, or down right grouchy. More often than not, “bad days” are a wake up call that all is not well within. The good news is you don’t need to construct a runway when you have a helicopter. There’s a faster way out than you think. A huge part of our social construct is, “the only way to succeed is hard work.” I’ll never discount a strong work ethic. It’s one aspect of my identity that satisfies my work life, no matter what role I hold. As I see it, the flawed part of that mentality is that it directly implies difficulty, challenge…that it’s time consuming to get to a place we wish to be. It’s a statement of resistance, pressure and limitation. If we’re talking strictly about financial earnings and material accumulations, I can see how the phrase has been engrained and passed down to every generation. The problem is, the path of most resistance is mentally draining. If our careers and job roles are hard, I encourage you to examine why. If your day is loaded with hurdles and outright roadblocks on an ongoing basis, are you willing to see it as a sign that something out there is a better fit? Something that leaves you more satisfied, restores your sense of fulfillment and leaves you with the energy to expend your disposable time? I’m talking pursuits that feed you, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. It’s not only possible, it’s vital. I can’t think of a person that consistently is under the gun, takes their work home with them and is also fully content with their life. There is such an alarming acceptance of being overworked that the expectation is we’re always too busy to do what we want to do. When did this happen? And, why are we so willing to deny ourselves, in this short life, the time to create the things that won’t leave our hearts alone? Your purpose is not trivial. Period. The erroneous idea that purpose is synonymous with solving a world problem is complete BS. Sometimes, (and especially) if we’ve never considered this sacred part of our SELF, it may feel too abstract and complex to examine with clarity, our purpose. An easier way to approach the topic is to ask yourself what you like to do. We may like sports, or art, or cooking. But, hobbies and purpose are cousins, at best. It’s a start, knowing what we like. My job affords me some beautiful interactions with people from every walk of life. It’s never fails to sadden me when I ask first time jumpers, “So, what do you like to do when you’re not jumping out of airplanes?” Rarely do I receive an immediate and enthusiastic response. From shoulder shrugs, to nervous laughs to the honest answer of, “…I really don’t know,” I build each one up to the best of my ability by telling them that’s great news, because they have unlimited possibilities, a million options and they don’t have to wait to start doing those things they could see themselves doing. This usually lightens the heaviness of the realization that so many of us don’t know what we enjoy. Back to the difference in interests and purpose. When we cultivate an inner yearning to the point that we find ways to serve others, that’s purpose. You don’t like people? There’s something for you, too. I know hundreds of loners by choice whose passions range from raising chickens to preserving the rainforest. Those things still serve us. (I’d need a flow chart to demonstrate how a chicken serves you, when it’s being raised by someone who loves chickens. So, you just have to trust me on this one.) When we spend zero time manifesting our deep, often unspoken, unshared desires, we live a life of noise and chaos. We may have lived it so long we become “thought blind” to this fact, but all it takes to understand the disorder and misplaced priorities is to begin incorporating your fire into your daily must-do’s. What can you exchange, today, that would allow space for fanning that flame? An hour of sleep? Channel surfing? Social media overuse? Treated like an appointment, the habit of this self care quickly grows into a non-negotiable slice of your day. Satisfaction with self and the reward of experimenting with what you’ve forever dismissed, is the ultimate shift to empowerment. We become the masters of our own lives. Suddenly, your boss, your relationships, your obligations, no longer rise above what YOU want, and the strange outcome is that you are not only more tolerant of the things and people that were dragging you down, you find yourself more willing to live in harmony with what, yesterday, was cause for an eye-roll. That’s the sacredness of purpose. The overused quote, “We weren’t born to just pay bills and die,” is proof that we know there is more…that there’s a void, a gap in where we are and where we want to be. Begin. There are no excuses. If your dreams require money you don’t have yet, start learning everything you can about that interest. Buy a book. Talk to experts on the subject, if they exist. Buy a $2 notebook and, everyday, jot down a plan, a step toward bringing your holy grail to fruition. Harness a half hour of thoughts and meditate on how manifesting this plan feels, already. If you’ve ever taught someone a skill from ground zero, and watched their eyes light up as they “got it,” you can imagine the exponential fulfillment of doing the same for yourself. Hone the skill. Chase the carrot. Ask. Read. Record your findings/thoughts and whatever amazing things that are sure to unfold after you take the first step. If, by now, I sound like a cheerleader, you couldn’t be more right. I have the uniform, the pompoms and I’m jumping up and down for you to pass go. Try it for a month, if for no other reason than to prove me wrong. You WILL experience an increase in your vitality, your happiness, even your health. Our brains are wired like that- it needs a focus, an intention. And, it will give you overwhelming returns on your investment. But, it doesn’t lie dormant. It will think those 80,000 intrusive thoughts daily, most of which are negative. Be the boss of you. Call a do-over. Even if you’re doing it for the first time. The next six months will come and go if you get on it, or if you don’t. Get on it. To purpose…. Peace, Warriors.