Monday, March 20, 2006

Living with purpose

What difference would it make to your life if you knew the purpose of your life?

This week I'm teaching a whole day workshop on Viktor Frankl, author of the personal development classic, Man's Search for Meaning. I love doing these workshops, not least because they enhance my own learning and, more importantly, provide motivation and create energy.

Frankl says that there is no one meaning to a person's life. You have to detect the meaning in your life, given your talents and opportunities. For example, if you have a great musical talent, it may not be too difficult to think that the meaning of your life is to create music. If you are a parent of young children, your purpose comes from nurturing them.

How can you discover the meaning and purpose in your own life? When I wrote Wise Therapy, I developed the RSVP values clarification to help. Try it out yourself, and see what values you detect.

The next - and crucial - step is to live these values. I do RSVP every few months myself. The last time, my top values (in no particular order) were serenity, fun, love, wisdom and fulfillment. My purpose in life is to make sure my life actually satisfies these values. My own favourite ways of helping this happen include
- Using guided imagery. I have made my own guided imagery recordings, put them on my i-pod, and listen to them on the train. This is not only enjoyable, but also very helpful - I can imagine my ideal day, and in doing so help it happen.
- Goal setting. Setting SMART goals is a great way to stay on track
- Life coaching. The process of life coaching can be very energising and helps focus one on what matters.
- Making personal development a priority. Write a blog, take or teach some classes, leave aside at least 5 minutes a day for personal development work.

As Viktor Frankl would have been the first to recognise, living the purposeful live is not always plain sailing. But the two steps described above - detecting one's important values, then taking active steps to ensure they are fulfilled - can be very beneficial.