Navigating to a life of meaning and purpose
I got married for the second time a little over a year ago. Just before our wedding, my wife and I decided to pack all our belongings in storage and take an extended four-month honeymoon to Southeast Asia. We wanted a real adventure together before we settled back into our day-to-day lives as a working couple. After losses in both our immediate families, we were in the mindset of following our mutual passion for travel to create a powerful and meaningful experience together – an adventure out into the world and a journey deeper into our own hearts.
After several weeks of lying comatose on a beach, catching up on sleep and decompressing from the crazy-pace of American life, what emerged for us fairly quickly was this question:
What do we really want for our lives NOW… individually and as a couple?
And a second question came quickly after that one:
What truly brings each of us alive; fills us with joy and passion?
These felt like variations of the classic philosophical question: “Why am I here? “
And then the deer-in-the-headlights follow-up question: “If I did find that out, now what the heck do I do about it?”
We asked these questions of ourselves and literally sat with them, and then chewed, journaled and brainstormed on them. What emerged for me in working closely with these questions was a way of looking at my life to better navigate it toward greater meaning, purpose and fulfillment.
After returning from the trip, I was able to see more clearly the steps I’d taken at times throughout my life, and on the trip, too, to help me best explore these big questions and gain clarity for what’s really important to me in my life.
What I got clear on were four key principles for navigating life toward more meaning and a sense of purpose:
- 1. Take the time to REFLECT on your life as it’s happening.
What I notice in my busy daily life is that it’s tough to take the time to reflect on what’s actually happening in the moment… at a deeper level. If I stay in the‘doing-mode’ all the time, then I miss the more subtle messages or that softer inner voice, that trusted source, that has unvarnished truth for me. For me, being alone in nature, taking a walk in our neighborhood or meditating all provide me that reflection time I need to look more deeply at my life – to notice what is being called forth in me in each moment. Not easy to do consistently, but always important to come back to for experiencing this place of self-knowing and trust.
- 2. Don’t let the HOW take you down
This one is so hard for our logical and hyper-planning minds. It nearly shouts at us: “Now HOW the heck are you going to do that?” It’s the phrase that kills so many amazing ideas, possibilities and creative endeavors. So the key is to talk back to your own doubting, ego-mind and say: “Thank you for sharing, I know you’re concerned about me, but I’m choosing not to worry about the HOW for now.” And then keep moving with the exciting possibilities, the brainstorming of what brings you alive, and what you really care about that you want to finally take on. The big ideas that bring your imagination to life.
- 3. Bring your COURAGE online
This one follows closely on the heels of Number 2 in that you will need to draw up your courage to move into action around those things that you realize are most important and exciting for you. It’s about being willing to take the risk in your life to live the way you want, bringing your gifts, talents and passions forward to make a difference. When you consciously bring your courage forward to move through the fears and doubt, then you’ll have more energy, capacity and trust to go for what inspires and opens you.
- 4. Keep moving toward what brings you ALIVE
Why are you here? For what purpose? You get to answer those questions any way you want. You get to choose and then claim it. It’s actually as simple as that. There is no right answer. And the primary markers that let you know you’re on track are your joy and your passion. If you’re miserable, numb, and lonely, then you are most definitely off track in your life. And stepping up to make courageous choices to move toward that which brings you aliveis the pathway to knowing your Purpose. And to answering that age-old question: “Why aren’t you playing outside? It’s a beautiful day.”
I have found that when I actively cultivate these principles, amazing and unexpected opportunities show up in my life. I become more aligned inside myself with how to best navigate through both the daily challenges and the daily miracles of life while feeling more on purpose in whatever I choose to do.
(Chris Kyle is the creator and co-host of the Power of Purpose Summit, a free 4-day global online event geared for men (women are welcome) with 14 authors and teachers, including Neale Donald Walsch, Dan Millman, and Jack Canfield, all sharing their ideas about how to access and activate your purpose. It’s sponsored by The ManKind Project®, a global non-profit organization committed to supporting men to grow, heal, and fully live their purpose in the world. To learn more, go to: Power of Purpose Summit)