Sense of Purpose – The Pathway to Success

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“The two most important days in your life

are the day you were born

and the day you find out why.”

– Mark Twain

Ever reached a point where you feel you’ve lost your way…disconnected from your sense of self…discouraged and spent…heading down a path that’s not the way you want to go?

I have. (And not just once 😊) I’ll catch myself running along a path that I didn’t consciously choose, moving so fast that my surroundings are a blur, and more importantly, with such speed that I’m not even sure whose feet are racing against the ground. Fear seems to pull me along – and wear me down.

Then something invites me to pay attention.

Ironically, the very work that sometimes lures me down the path also invites me to slow down enough to think, see, hear, and feel my way on the journey. My work is laser-focused right now on “leading with resilience” – being our best when it matters most to us.* It’s about using science-based mindset, movement, nutrition, and recovery strategies to fuel ourselves, to support us in expending energy for what’s most important and in getting the rest and rejuvenation needed to perform what’s next. It’s about the social connection that is crucial for health – and that could just help us live longer. (Having Social Bonds is the No. 1 Way to Optimize Your Health) It’s about having a clear sense of purpose that pulls us toward important outcomes – bringing our energy to things that make a difference in our world.

“Clarify your purpose.

What is the why behind everything you do?

When we know this,

it is very empowering and the path is clear.”

– Jack Canfield

When the obstacle on the path is so big that it blocks my way, then I am forced to pause, and consider what I really want. I start working with visualizing my success, creating clarity about why I’m here on this planet and what fulfills me. I tune my sense of purpose. I set my compass so that I can see the path that points me in the direction I really want to go. I find that I do this over and over. I once thought I could nail down my purpose and be good to go for life; however, since I am continually transforming and things around me are changing, my vision for myself morphs and evolves.

I continue to practice checking in on the stories that I make up about what’s happening, rewriting them so they are aligned with what I value most. I review actions I’ve taken, seeing where I’ve leveraged my strengths, where I’ve made progress, what I’m learning.

“Mistakes make you wiser,

heartbreak makes you stronger,

and wrong turns often take you

to the right place.”

– Unknown

And, just as importantly, I consider what I might have done differently, reliving things I’d like to do better –  actually visualizing myself doing them successfully. I create new pathways in my mind for success. Really, science tells us that trying new things stimulates new neural pathways in the brain, and if we consistently work them, we build new habits that can support us.

Did you know that our minds don’t differentiate between visualizing ourselves doing something and actually doing them? Think about it, have you ever thought about something and reacted physically, emotionally, and mentally as if the experience were real? Or relived in your mind something you’ve already experienced and opened the very same physical, emotional and mental response?

Maybe one or more of these questions will invite you to visualize your success in a way that helps you be your best when it matters most:

  • What matters most to me?
  • What does success look like for me?
  • What energizes me?
  • What depletes me?
  • How do I fuel my success?
  • What am I learning?
  • Where am I making progress?
  • Where do I want to perform better?
  • What strengths do I have?
  • How are thoughts serving me or getting in my way?
  • How am I caring for myself physically, pscyhologically and emotionally to be my best?

 “The meaning of life is to find your gift.

The purpose of life is to give it away.”

– William Shakespeare

Some articles you might be interested in:

Building Resilience as a Leader: Thriving in the Face of Change

Leadership Resiliency: Handling Stress, Uncertainty, and Setbacks

The Extraordinary Power of Visualizing Success

* I love this phrase – being your best when it matters most to you – which I picked up from Sink, Float, or Swim: Sustainable High Performance Doesn’t Happen by Chance – It Happens by Choice and the TIGNUM workshops I’ve been fortunate enough to attend. (Check out the TIGNUM Thoughts blog to learn more about their philosophy and approach.)

** I took this photo in the gardens at Knappogue Castle in County Clare, Ireland.

Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, photography, gardening, cooking, crafting, sewing, yoga. I enjoy traveling because it opens me to greater awareness and new possibilities. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

16 thoughts on “Sense of Purpose – The Pathway to Success”

  1. So many great points, Vicki. What I find interesting is that while many people say you should know your purpose and your why, very few have sat down and documented it. You provide some interesting reflective questions. I encourage people to go beyond thinking about it and write their responses. What do you learn, see, feel? Is there is a powerful, rocket-fueling purpose that is revealed? Can it be used as a compass now and in the future? My Vision, Mission, and Purpose statements are recorded on my website and in my book, Destination Unstoppable. They do guide me, and they prevent me from being undermined by naysayers or obstacles of any kind. I’ll share it here in the hope that your readers are inspired to do the the hard work (and reap the benefits) of your recommended approach.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Maureen. One of the dependable things I look forward to with each post here is coming back to YOUR comments and insights. I love the solid foundation that your vision, mission and purpose statements provide for you (and what they create in the world). Since I was a girl my purpose has been to help others, to be a teacher, a guide, a support, a coach, someone who listens, sees, and feels. At that level there is clarity, the way it takes shape seems to morph and evolve through the chapters of my life. (As a young elementary school girl, I wanted to be a mom and teacher, at adolescence my best friend suggested I’d make a good psychiatrist, as a young professional, I won a corporate award for helping people succeed.) Vicki

  2. This is so timely for me and so right on. Understanding the why, the core of what motivates me, at this time in my life is critical. Thanks. – Lorian

  3. Very nice article Vicki! I have always been a big believer in “visualizing” what you want. Until one day: when my daughter asked me “is there a difference between day dreaming (about what you want) and visualizing?” now, i extend the same question to you – what are your views on day dreaming versus visualizing? is it just about semantics or is there a real difference between the two?

    1. Anil, your daughter seems to have a special way of helping you see and explore the world in new ways! As I see it (pun intended), both day dreaming and visualization involve the mind’s eye seeing ourselves playing out some future reality so in that regard they are the same. This may not be strictly true, although it seems to me that day dreaming can be more free flowing, allowing what comes up, whereas visualizing has an element of intentionality and focus. Well, as I think about it, it’s really a brilliant question because they could be the same depending on the day dreamer. 🙂

    1. I am delighted that the questions have inspired you to make time to FEEL and genuinely BE … may the answers you seek come to you in lights and rainbows and smiles and hugs and kisses, and all that you wish to create in the world!

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