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Creating Purpose

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A word that comes to mind in the New Year is purpose. Many people no longer make New Year's resolutions because they know that resolutions often fall by the wayside. The week between Christmas and New Year's leaves many of us feeling in limbo. We think about the promises we made at the beginning of the year and sometimes realize we fell short of our expectations. However, it is important to leave our unfulfilled prospects of the past in the past and see the New Year as an opportunity to create or enhance your purpose.

On the topic of purpose, Daniel L. Pink writes in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, "The most deeply motivated people -- not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied -- hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves." Daniel goes on to write, "From the moment that human beings first stared into the sky, contemplated their place in the universe, and tried to create something that bettered the world and outlasted their lives, we have been purpose seekers. 'Purpose provides activation energy for living,' psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi told me in an interview, 'I think that evolution has had a hand in selecting people who had a sense of doing something beyond themselves."

Conceptually, this can be a bit overwhelming to think about. How do we create purpose that goes beyond ourselves? Can we add more meaning to our lives? In the family unit, there is no question as to how you do this. You provide love, security, faith, trust and possibility for the next generation. Your footprints continue on with the lessons that you imparted. Your voice will forever be heard in the hearts of your children.

In story, we create purpose by attempting to clearly express the meaning behind our words. In the book Stealing Fire From The Gods, author, James Bonnett writes, "The purpose of story, then, is to guide us to our full potential and the nature of story is to conceal that purpose in an enticing sugar coat that lures us into the experience."

When it comes to work, adding purpose is a more complex matter. If we learn to look within ourselves versus seeking our rewards externally, we may discover our true purpose lives there. In his book Drive, Daniel L. Pink refers to this as "Type I behavior". Daniel writes, "Type I is fueled more by intrinsic desires than extrinsic ones. It concerns itself less with the external rewards to which an activity leads and more with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself." Pink goes on to write, "Ultimately, Type I behavior depends on three nutrients; autonomy, mastery and purpose. Type I behavior is self-directed. It is devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. And it connects that quest for excellence to a larger purpose."

I love the terms he chose: autonomy, mastery and purpose. These are great motivators to start our year with. This grants us the ability to create the destiny of our choosing. If we look within ourselves and think about how we can affect the greater good and create more purpose in our lives, we can feel the rebirth of conscious endeavor. If we reflect on these words and focus on their meaning, the potential of finding purpose in our lives can be limitless.