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The Ultimate Guide To Living On Purpose

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The Ultimate Guide To Living On Purpose

When I look at my boys, I am both excited and terrified, for them. I am excited because their life’s journey has just started. At this stage of their young lives, they have no limitations, no worries, and they are highly motivated to invent their world.

My youngest voraciously attacks each day; he climbs, he falls, he cries, only to do it all over again. My oldest has a fearless imagination and is predisposed to telling wild stories; of sea monsters living in the midnight zone.

And failure for them is not the end of the story, it sets in motion a series of questions, learning moments and even goals.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.”
– Steve Jobs

Yes, you are unremarkably average

I am terrified because, their journey must yield to the reality that they must become members of society. An ordered community that has little tolerance for the round pegs in the square holes and covets conformity above all else.

As my boys comply, they will gradually lose the voracity to forge their path and eventually graduate to what Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, defines as — the unremarkable average.

Guillebeau illustrates that the unremarkable average live by a set of rules, commandments if you will:

  1. Accept what people tell you at face value
  2. Don’t question authority
  3. Go to college because you’re supposed to, not because you want to learn something
  4. Go overseas once or twice in your life, to somewhere safe like England
  5. Don’t try to learn another language, everyone else will eventually learn English
  6. Think about starting your own business, but never do it.
  7. Think about writing a book, but never do it
  8. Get the largest mortgage you qualify for and spend 30 years paying for it
  9. Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work
  10. Don’t stand out or draw attention to yourself
  11. Jump through hoops. Check off boxes.

Does this life sound strangely familiar to you? Don’t be afraid to say, “Yes.” This set of rules is what conformity looks like, and no one will ever challenge you to be different.

 

Why regret will lead you to live on purpose

Richard Leider, the author of the Life Reimagined, found that most people regretted living an average life. They wished they had gotten more from their lives; to live on purpose.

Leider interviewed hundreds of people over the age of 65 and asked them one question, “If you could live your life over again what would you do differently?” And three themes kept repeating:

  1. I would be more reflective; I would stop to enjoy the moments of my life.
  2. I would be more courageous; I would not be fearful of not conforming.
  3. I would understand my purpose; because my life needs to matter.

If this small sample of people regretted living an average life, for the sake of argument, I would say that everyone has the same regret. So the real question is why are you living your life the way other people expect you too?

Tony Robbins explains that, “The difference with anyone that has followed through is that we are more afraid of what life would be like if we don’t follow through – than the person that is willing to settle with what they have and hoping that it will change.”

So fear if allowed can retard your choices. Now knowing this, how do you leverage fear and start taking small steps to living on purpose?

 

purpose quote
 

Committing to new skills will lead you to success

You commit to the skills that will give you the most freedom. And how do you know what skills you need? You need to ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What do I really want out of my life?
  2. What will I give back to my community for supporting me?

Now you turn your dream into a project and like any project you begin by creating three lists:

  1. A list of everything a project needs to be considered a good project
  2. A list of all the skills you don’t have that are important to the project’s success
  3. A list of everything you are afraid of and out of your control

At the beginning of most new projects, you will lack mastery of key skills that are critical for the success of the project. Understanding this issue is critical and will condition you to focus on those necessary skills.

You could focus on mastering all the skills at once. But experience has taught me that dividing your limited energy is counterproductive. Instead, first, focus on that one skill that will create the most freedom for you.

Once you have identified the skill to master, you must not only create a set of habits, but you must also have a provocative ”why” is the skill important. This strategy will place you in the proper mindset to keep you growing the new skill until it’s mastered.

Once you have mastered the necessary skills and you have achieved your goal — it becomes a game for you. Why – because progress is happiness. Therefore, you start asking yourself — “what is next” or “what else can I do to create more freedom and happiness in my life?”

You then revisit these two questions:

  1. What do I really want out of my life?
  2. What will I give back to my community for supporting me?

…and the game starts all over again.

 

The Iron Cowboy Story

A story that recently caught my attention is about James “Iron Cowboy” Lawrence. In 2014 Lawrence set a new world record by achieving a personal goal of the 50, 50, 50 — that’s 50 iron distance triathlon races in 50 consecutive days in 50 states.

If you are unfamiliar with what an iron distance triathlon is, here is the breakdown:

  • A 2.4-mile swim
  • An 112-mile bike ride
  • A 26.2 marathon run

The interesting thing is that Lawrence is a regular guy, married with five kids. So what separates him from you — his why.

James ran a 4-mile fun race one Thanksgiving and during that race everything hurt — lungs, heart, legs, etc. At the end of that race Lawrence decided his life had to change. Why, because James was not going to allow that moment to define his life.

“It’s not a matter of how to get to the other side of that mountain. It’s which way am I going to do it — am I going to go over it, am I going to go around it, am I going to go through it? But ultimately at the end of the day I am going to make it to the other side of that mountain. Come hell or high water.”
– James Lawrence

James never thought that completing the 50, 50, 50 was not going to be worth it. He was on a mission, not only to prove to himself that it could be done. But teach his children that when you set a goal there needs to be 100% conviction that you will achieve that goal. And if you lack that conviction then there is no point in setting the goal, in the first place.

Lawrence’s mission had a welcomed side effect, James began to inspire others to do something outside of themselves. The hardest moments for James was not listening to the people that told him “you can’t do it.” It was shocking to him that it was the overwhelming majority of the people that told him – “You will fail. This is impossible.”

So he needed to turn down the volume on all the negativity and to focus on the things that are positive, uplifting and the things that drove him forward — to the finish line.

One of those positive moments for Lawrence was his 27th race. James helped a little boy named Dayton compete in his first triathlon. This race was particularly important to Lawrence because Dayton has cerebral palsy.

 

Conclusion

We spend a lot of our lives being average and focusing on the wrong thing. What if you took that same energy and focused on becoming a better version of you? What if you focused on helping others achieve their dreams?

Your goals may never get national attention like James “Iron Cowboy” Lawrence, but what if they help put a smile on the face of a boy like Dayton. Wouldn’t that be more amazing than living an unremarkably average life?

Thank you for reading my article! Please tell me how my article has helped you in the comment section below!

Ramon B. Nuez Jr. studies leadership. Ramon interviews leaders across a broad range of disciplines such as CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders — to uncover what makes them exceptional leaders. Ramon writes about leadership in world famous blogs like the Huffington Post,  Addicted2Success, Lifehack, and Business2Community. He has also been an editor for the World Wide Web Foundation and Crowdsourcing Week. Ramon is working on self-publishing his first book; tentatively titled “The Growth Journal | a notebook for living with impact.” Ramon is endlessly conducting research on entrepreneurship, skill acquisition, productivity, behavioral psychology and leverages the investigation to help high achievers become so valuable that they can’t be ignored. Visit him online at www.ramonbnuezjr.com.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Bikash Bhandary

    Jul 25, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    An amazing read, discovered about Iron Cowboy, followed him on twitter.
    Thanks for inspiration.

  2. Maina

    Jan 11, 2016 at 9:14 am

    A nice read there.
    Your articles motivate me.
    Thanks

  3. Gary

    Oct 2, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Awesome article!!! Very sobering as well in that I follow those set of 11 rules and makes me feel ashamed. Being 47 and not feeling like I have found my purpose because of fear stings but doesn’t have to define me.

    Thanks for taking the time to write a inspiring article!!!

  4. Eva

    Sep 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    What a great reminder that you can make a difference in your life as well as others. Starting at this moment, it is your choice as to how you live your life. Great read!

  5. Axel Page

    Sep 1, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Phenomenal read. I had never heard of James Lawrence before reading this article. A perfect example of someone who dictates his happiness through dedication to his goals. He took something that seemed impossible to the average eye and smashed through it.

    • Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

      Sep 6, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Axel. thanks for the kind words. Until I wrote this article I had never heard of the Iron Cowboy. Either through fate or luck I ran across a YouTube JayBird advertisement. It was a 2-minute B-Roll and I was captivated. So much so that it inspired me to write this article and start running. I am running 2 5k’s and a 15k this year. And I plan to run the NYC Marathon in 2016.

      I hope this article has inspired you to go out there and accomplish something that you see as impossible. Good luck.

  6. Steven

    Sep 1, 2015 at 10:03 am

    A very inspiring read — thank you. “Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work” — that one always hits home :-).

  7. johnleyo

    Sep 1, 2015 at 1:20 am

    niiiice 🙂

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Working alone at home might sound like a nightmare to some, but as a fully signed up introvert, working alone at home is an absolute dream. No energy-draining small talk, no noisy distractions, just peace and quiet to complete deep and focused work. Well not quite. Working alone at home has more challenges than you might expect. Boredom, lack of focus and lack of motivation to name a few.

When you start working for yourself, you quickly realise that one of the biggest problems you face isn’t the job itself. Maintaining your motivation poses a potentially huge difficulty. Much of that difficulty stems from working alone, rather than in a traditional office setting. There is also the challenge of staying focused on the task at hand. With no boss or supervisor looking over your shoulder, social media can distract or cat videos interrupt you.

But the greatest problem by far is a simple lack of motivation. There doesn’t seem to be a pressing need to finish this project right now, making it far too easy to put it off until later. Left unchecked, a lack of motivation can cripple the work you are trying to accomplish. Over the past few years I’ve developed a few go-to tactics to improve my lone working motivation.

Here are some of the tools I’ve used to stay motivated and on-task.

These first few tips focus on using different tweaks in your personal work schedule to provide some variety and maintain your focus.

1. Include short breaks

My eye doctor once told me that for every 20 minutes of staring at a computer screen, you should look away and focus on something across the room for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to reset. Do something similar with the rest of your body; don’t just look across the room, walk, jog, or run across the room. Give your body a break, and try to reset your thoughts. If you don’t have the discipline to take regular breaks, use an app to remind you.

2. Block out an afternoon for social activities and networking

Set aside one afternoon a week for your social life. Friday afternoon works best for me. If you feel guilty about not working, think of it as a chance to network. Either way, be sure to spend this section of time with other people. Socialise and network.

3. View your personal schedule as your work schedule

A 9-to-5 job requires getting up every morning, preparing for the day, leaving the house, and commuting to your workplace. In other words, it requires going to work. You want to recreate the same rhythm at home. You may not actually need to leave your house in order to work, but try to stick with the schedule. Filling the old job timeslot with your new work helps to keep you motivated – you can’t clock out early!

These next few tips are little things you can do to trick yourself into staying focused!

1. Music

This tip may sound cliché, but try listening to an upbeat song loudly whenever you feel unmotivated. It’s a simple trick, but a surprisingly effective one!

2. Have somewhere else to work for a change of scenery

When procrastination sets in, sometimes a quick change of scenery is all you need. If you work at home, going to your favourite café can be a huge help. Other freelancers I know have even gone so far as to hire office space outside the home, and rotate between the two to help stay on-task.

3. Love what you do

This is arguably the most critical point on the whole list. If you don’t love what you do, it will be hard to keep yourself motivated – particularly long-term. Sure, you may be able to push on through sheer force of will for a while, but sooner or later you’ll lose motivation entirely. Do something you genuinely enjoy, and you’ll find it much easier to stick with it for the long haul.

These last few tips are Industry-related!

1. Make sure you have fun projects

Not all of your work projects will be fun, but fight to make at least a couple of them fun. These might even be personal side projects, not particularly related to your main job. Or they might be in the same general field, but not your specific focus.

2. Attend industry events a couple of times a year

Nearly every imaginable industry has an organising body of some kind. Find the local branch, and use it to keep tabs on industry-related events. Attend some seminars, network, and maybe even glean some new tips and tricks from industry insiders.

3. Schedule at least one call a week to learn something within your industry

View this as an opportunity for personal development. At least once a week, try to learn something new about your industry. For me, this might mean calling a new tool provider to demonstrate their gadgets. Whatever your industry, try to expand your horizons a little bit every week. You’ll learn new methods and make new connections at the same time.

These tips worked for me, hopefully, some of them will help you out as well. Above all, strive to enjoy what you do, stick to a “work schedule,” and look for opportunities for constant self-improvement. With those ideas in mind, you’ll find staying motivated much easier to do alone or in a group!

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