Don’t fall into the New Year’s resolution cycle. Think of your purpose in life.
To do so, let us assume that you are celebrating your 95th birthday. Your family is there, as well as your dearest friends. You have had a great and productive life. You look back and start reflecting about who you have become, what you have stood for, and those you have loved and served. You also had your share of challenges, but they made you wiser and stronger.
In your mind, think of why this day is special. What are the surrounding circumstances? How is your physical appearance? What expression predominates your face and eyes? At this moment, what are your deepest feeling and thoughts? Through the years, what has been important in your life?
Now, it is time for those present to say something about you. What would you each like to say? The other people who might be there include your former employer, neighbors, co-workers, fellow civic organization members and church members. What do you want then to say about you?
After you complete the above exercise, ask yourself, “What can I do to reflect positively on life during my sunset days?”
7 Tips for Living Your Life with Purpose
1. Build relationships. As you went through the above mental exercise, you realized that people were a central part of your life. People brought happiness into your life, encouragement and a sense of belonging. They helped you realize your vision and goals, and they were there when you needed support and understanding. It’s not the projects we accomplish, but the people with whom we accomplish the projects that is essential in life.
2. Visualize your desired future. In our minds, we create the future we want to live in. Remember, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Our vision is an expanded purpose that leads to a more focused life. It is the deepest expression of what we want, the preferred future. Our vision must embody the collective values and aspirations of our relationship with God, families and associates. It is with vision of the future that we are inspired to focus on the possibilities of going beyond what is wrong and what has hindered success in the past.
3. Set attainable goals. Learn to define and set goals with others. Formulate action plans, and before final decision and implementation, consult others. Your goals must be specific and measurable. Identify and initiate specific activities that you must do to achieve your goals and the obstacles you must overcome.
4. Grow and be fruitful. This is an ongoing process that calls you to be a lifelong learner, and self-initiating without the limiting forces of job description or turf. In this process you learn to ask and listen and you always have something to live up to while taking time to feed your soul and mind. Learn to enrich other people’s lives as a contributor and team player.
5. Leave the past behind. Past failing experiences or disappointments are lessons that can be the setups for a rewarding future. Don’t steal from your present and future by spending time reminiscing on the past disappointing experiences. Keep your eyes open not to see a closed window but the gates of opportunities that are ever present.
6. Learn a jungle survival skill. This is just a reminder that the wise have said, “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will die. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” Know your jungle (industry) and run not only to survive but to thrive.
7. Think eternally. In this path to 95th birthday, a positive attitude is a necessity. Seek the meaning of life and God’s beauty in any experience. Maintain God’s temple, your soul, in good shape. This journey is impossible if this temple is not in sound condition — healthy relationship with the creator, the only source of lasting peace of mind. God also wants to see it (his temple) in this condition eternally. Keep in mind that what you do for yourself can get you by. What you do for others is what will get you ahead, whether in your profession, spiritual pursuits or relationships.
May God richly bless you and make your future better than your past.
The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.