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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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Welcome to our new normal. A time in our lives that a year ago we certainly didn’t see coming that most of us probably wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves; but here we are. As the days away from each other carry on and more and more bad news comes our way, it’s easy to lose your motivation and waste energy doing things that aren’t helpful like worrying and fighting with people on the internet instead.

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to the Washington Post. While many of us had routines set up to deal with stress in the past, the stress we are facing during this time is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. It’s easy to find yourself in a downward spiral, and that’s the most challenging time to stop the momentum and turn things around. If that’s the case, keep it simple and start to reach for little things to help you feel better and climb your way out.

Here’s a reminder of a few simple things you can do right now to start getting positive momentum going your way:

1. Find someone who was in a similar place and made it to the other side

Whether you’ve been unmotivated to workout, eat healthy, make sales calls or simply do anything, you can find someone who has been there and made it to the other side. Look up some great TED talks, go on YouTube and look up people that motivate you, google them to find their websites. There are short speeches and much longer talks all over the internet, you just need to find someone who you relate to that speaks to you.

2. Do something that you love

When we’re unmotivated, it’s easy to get out of the habit of doing what we love. Sometimes just getting out of bed or away from the tv feels like a chore. Think back to a time in your life when you felt great – what were you doing? What do you absolutely love to do that if you had the time, you would do all day and not realize any time had passed at all? 

Figure out a way to do whatever that is, or a modified version of it if it is something that you aren’t able to do at the present time. Spending time doing what you love will get your mind off of anything that is wrong and allow you to find inspiration.

“If something is important enough, even if the odds are stacked against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk

3. Don’t overcomplicate it

Keep it simple. When we’re stuck in a rut, we’ll give ourselves every excuse to not do something. Say you’ve gained some weight; you might tell yourself you need to find the perfect trainer and wait until you have time to cook your meals from scratch each night before you do anything else. Stop trying to overcomplicate it and keep it simple by finding one thing you can do right now, however small that may be. You don’t have to wait until the timing is perfect and the stars align for you to start moving in the direction you want to go.  

4. Get up and get moving

This is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but once you are up and moving, your blood will start flowing. The hardest part is getting started. Day one, get up and do anything to get moving. This is the hardest day if you haven’t in a while because getting up is really the hardest part. Day two, do a little more. Once you start, you’ll build momentum and get back in the habit.

5. Reset your focus

It’s so easy for worry to set in and for our minds to wander to places of what we can’t control. This is not motivating or helpful and we always have a choice to redirect our attention. There is always something we can do right where we are, so bring your focus to the solution instead of the problem and figure out the next step of what you can do. 

One step at a time. Step one, take your attention away from what you can’t control and what you can’t do. Step two, ask yourself questions like “What can I do?” and see what comes to mind. Follow through with the answers you find.

6. Listen to your favorite music

Not much can lift our spirits and put us into a positive vibration more than our favorite music. Feel free to sing along. Find a song that pumps you up and make that your theme song. Put it on anytime you feel down or unmotivated.

7. Expand your knowledge

“In times of change, the learners will inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Quote by Eric Hoffer. In times of change, there is great loss but also great opportunity. Continually learning opens you to new opportunities and leads you to paths you may not have otherwise found.  

“Work like there is someone working twenty four hours a day to take it away from you.” – Mark Cuban

8. Meditate

If you’re already a meditator and got away from it, take some time to come back to it. If you’ve never tried, it can be as easy as setting a timer for five minutes (or less, feel free to start with one or two minutes) and focusing on your breath. Listen to the inhalations and exhalations. Silently say to yourself “in” as you inhale and “out” as you exhale. Even taking a few minutes to do this can help you to calm down and allow your mind to refocus.

When we’re unmotivated, our momentum starts moving in the other direction. Slow down that momentum by trying one of the ideas above. Once you’ve slowed down the momentum, get it moving in the right direction and you’ll be well on your way.

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