WOW Word-Of-the-Week #430: Purpose

October 31, 2012 by  

Purposethe object toward which one strives; aim or goal.

 Do you have clear goals for your personal and professional life? Is your life satisfying and fulfilling? Do you feel like there is more that you want to accomplish?

 This is the final WOW from Dustin Wax’s article titled, “10 HARD Ways to Make Your Life Better” on Life Hack.

7. Write a book

 It feels really, really good to see your name on a book cover, but it feels even better to know that someone, somewhere, might find his or her life changed by something you’ve written. Share your particular expertise, whether it’s story-telling or woodworking, with the world — or just your family. Time isn’t the big issue (though it is an issue — don’t let the positive thinkists tell you otherwise!) but if you commit yourself to a page a day — a couple hundred words — within a year you’ll have a pretty decent-sized manuscript. That’s something to work with!

 8. Learn an art

 Take painting lessons, a pottery workshop, a music class, whatever — learn to express yourself and you might find a self worth expressing. Don’t settle for being a “Sunday painter” — devote yourself to an art and master it.

 9. Run for office

 The world needs smart, dedicated, and upright people to take care of all the fiddly details of making things run. As it happens, running for local office isn’t as challenging as you’d think (which isn’t to say it’s easy) — Michael Moore, the filmmaker, ran for school board while he was still in high school. Just for kicks. And won! It’s fine to have your heart set on the White House or Capitol Hill, but try your hand at city councilperson, county registrar, or something closer to home first. And be clean — run for the experience of putting your community on a better path, and not for the power.

 10. Set an outrageous goal — and achieve it!

 The nine tips above are only a handful of ideas about how to make your life better. Maybe you want to record an album, climb a mountain, make the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca), see 20 countries — don’t just settle for tiny goals, push yourself all the way to the edge and figure out how to make the craziest thing you can think of happen. Yes, you’ll have to learn a lot along the way, and plan months or even years in advance — that’s what makes outlandish goals worthwhile.

 I don’t want to suggest that you need to do all these things to be happy — doing just one is quite a handful! But if you’re unhappy with your life, if you want to make a change for the better, you need to think big and you need to be ready to put in the work to make it happen. It’s easy to “visualize success” and to “think positively”; it’s not so easy to throw yourself into the unknown and make it work. But if you can make it work, you’ll gain far more than you can imagine.

 This week’s focus is on purpose. What one thing would you like to do that you haven’t done? Do you have a hobby that you really enjoy? Have you had “outrageous ideas” that you brushed off because you thought they were too outlandish? How do you think it would feel to live your life with purpose?

Reader Responses

“I just got a chance to check out your most recent WOW.  Had to chuckle that #9 was Run for Office as I’m heading to the polls to vote shortly.  Also, realized that I had missed #s 1 – 6 so had to backtrack to find previous editions. Great suggestions…loved the Family-Community-Purpose categories!” – S

More often than not nowadays we hear people talking about their “bucket lists” of things they want to do before their time on earth runs out. I have always had goals in my life. While I have not completed all of them, there are a number that I have accomplished, which has made my life full. I always wanted to get a good education, including a master’s degree. In fact, my masters from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism has opened many doors in my life. It also allowed me to meet people and go places that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity. And, like you, I have written a couple of books. I always knew that I wanted to write a book on the late Marquette University basketball coach Al McGuire. From the time the idea first gestated in 1984, to completion in 1999, it was a long slog, but I never was discouraged. I always felt that I would get it done. And when I received the first copy from my publisher and since then, I always say I really did it well. Along with all of the praise that I received about the book was one comment that stood out from Coach McGuire’s youngest son. He told me at Coach’s  funeral: “After reading your book, I understood my father better.” That may have been the best compliment I received. The second book had to be completed within two months. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I received quite a few compliments from people around the country. Getting married and having children has really helped my life come full circle. When I see how my daughters are turning into happy and healthy children, it makes me happier than anything else in my life. I can’t begin to explain how the love and care of my wife and children are life affirming. There are other things that I want to do in my life. I am sure that I have at least two more books in me. I would also like to do sportscasting if I get the opportunity, which would certainly put my knowledge of sports to good use. Unlike people with bucket lists, I am at a point in my life where I don’t check items off a list. I strike when the opportunity presents itself. I have always believed in spontaneity and the opportunities it presents us in life.” – “Warrior” Joe

“Awesome read! Thank you.” – Linda



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