Focus on your purpose
Vail CO, Colorado
Bill sat down and noticed a sign hanging above my desk. It says, “When you schedule your time around your highest priorities, you can’t help but be in line with your purpose.” It was boldly written to remind me how important it is to focus on my goals. It must have hit home with Bill because he read the words out loud.
“What does that mean to you?” I asked.
“It means my crazy schedule is controlling my life instead of my purpose,” he replied.
“Give me an example of how that happens,” I said.
Bill responded, “Last week I had promised my daughter that I would have lunch with her this Thursday. I love to visit Amanda and listen to the 8-year-old conversations and play with her on the playground. It’s tough to pull myself away from work, but when I do, it is well worth it!”
“It sounds as though you value spending time with your family and have made it one of your top priorities,” I said.
He continued, sounding disappointed, “Our Thursday lunch got superseded by a vendor meeting. It was the only day he could meet with me, so I moved our lunch to next week. There was no other place to fit it in this week.”
“Tell me how you relate this to the message on the sign,” I said.
“I have the ‘scheduling’ portion down, but fall short on the execution,” Bill confided.
“My intentions are to spend time with Amanda, but somehow I make an exception here or there and suddenly, my family is no longer on my calendar. My real priorities seem to slip.”
He continued, “If you were to ask me what my purpose is, my family role would be on top. But if you were to look at how I spend my time, I’m afraid you’d get another picture.”
“Take out your calendar and let’s take a look at how you spend your time,” I said.
He opened his leather portfolio and flipped through the pages, stopping on the last week. He did some mental calculations and gave me a disappointed look.
“I spend a lot of time at work,” he said. “With my recent promotion, I have a lot of evening meetings, which usually conflicts with my family time.”
“Bill, if I were to ask you what your purpose is, what would you say?” I asked.
“I want to be known as a good father,” he began.
“What does that mean? What does a ‘good father’ look like?” I asked.
“A ‘good father’ puts his family first. It includes taking time away from work to have lunch with Amanda. I guess a ‘good father’ also provides financial support to the family, which justifies at least some of my time at work,” he smiled, realizing that even if he is not directly with his kids, he may still be fulfilling his purpose.
Bill admitted that he’s never defined his purpose. “Who has the time to ponder their life purpose?” he asked rhetorically.
“How can we get a clearer understanding of your purpose?” I pressed.
“We could fast forward to the day after I die and see what my obituary says,” he joked.
“I have an idea,” I said. “What if you were to write a draft of your own obituary? What would it say? What would be the highlights? What would people remember about you?”
“It sounds like I just got a homework assignment,” he said, smiling.
“Remember, you can accept the assignment, reject it or counter-offer.”
“I do know this: I don’t want to have to die to find out what my purpose is. I accept the assignment and will write my own obituary by our next coaching session,” he said.
“Great! I’d love to read it ” your homework assignment, not your obituary,” I said, smiling.
To get a better idea of your purpose, write a draft of your own obituary. What would it say? How would people feel when they read it? What do you want to be remembered for? Use the information from the obituary you write to begin writing or further define your purpose statement. Once you finalize your purpose statement, hang it up to keep it present as you move forward in life. Then, schedule your activities around your highest priorities.
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. Sheri can be reached at email@example.com or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.