A 4-step action guide on how establishing urgency in life leads to purpose.
I used to be late for my job nearly every day.
That is not an exaggeration; being punctual for my 9:00 AM work starting time was a daily battle for me several years ago.
What this looked like was me spinning into the parking lot with my truck – tires screeching – already late. The driver’s door would burst open as I rolled out of the seat; lunch pail falling off of my lap to the ground, shoelaces still untied. Trying my best to salvage every valuable second that ticked away, I’d dash across the parking lot. Any onlooker would see me conducting a circus-worthy act of me balancing half-opened workbags, all while I attempted to fix my unkempt hair and dress shirt in those last few moments before I present myself to my boss.
I was a fumbling agent of chaos.
I would arrive into the office, head down and eyes pointed to the floor in shame as I mumbled the excuse of the day (the traffic was terrible, my dog got sick that morning, my alarm didn’t go off, etc.) as to why I was late, again. My boss could only laugh; he saw my entire battle from the comfort of his window while sipping his coffee. He nicknamed this occurrence “Matt’s 9:03 AM parking lot shuffle”.
The obvious question that anyone more punctual than I would ask: “Matt, why didn’t you just leave your house 5-10 minutes earlier?” That would have certainly saved me a world of unneeded stress.
In reflection on this, several years later, I realize that I didn’t try harder to be on time for that job because that job did not instill a sense of urgency within me.
I had no urgency to get to work early. There were plenty of other things I wanted to be doing in the morning after all, like hitting the snooze button 4-5 times or catching up on YouTube videos while sitting wet and still wrapped in my towel after a long hot shower.
This lack of urgency wasn’t because I hated the job; to be honest, it was a decent job. I got along well with my co-workers, the work was relatively interesting and challenging, and the pay was pretty good for an entry-level position. However, the job did not make me feel purposeful.
We struggle to feel a sense of urgency towards things that do not make us feel purposeful.
I believe I am here to fulfill a purpose in life. Over the years, I have developed a strong intuition for when I am not in alignment with said purpose. What this looks like is an incredible lack of motivation when I am doing anything I do not feel passionate towards. When I don’t align with something in a way that invokes passion, I don’t do it (this isn’t me trying to flaunt my ego, I understand that this behaviour is more of a flaw of mine than it is a boon.) In contrast, when I am passionate about something, I always give it all of my time and energy (sometimes to the detriment of other things) – that is when I know I am in alignment with my purpose.
On the day that I eventually left that job, my boss gave me a talk. The key message of what he said to me I would never forget, he said: “Matt, you need to find something that makes it feel urgent for you to get out of your bed in the morning.” It was good advice; he was a good boss.
My advice that I am writing to you about now is an expanded upon version of the advice my boss gave me:
Find a means for work that instills a sense of urgency within you; only then will you know you are in alignment with your purpose.
I have set my sights on what I believe to be my purpose: to help empower people to be brave enough to align with their purpose and higher self, healing themselves and the planet along the way. Right now, I do this through my writing.
I feel a strong compulsion to write, and it has become one of my top priorities in my life right now. It instills a sense of urgency in me to do it. Why? It’s not because of the pay (which is virtually non-existent at the moment), it’s because it is purposeful for me.
I know writing aligns with my purpose because I am passionate about it. I love being able to formalize and articulate my thoughts. I love being able to provide value for other people who read my words.
I know writing aligns with my purpose because it makes me feel unique. Although there are many other writers, no others write in the exact manner that I do. I have a unique style that formed from my unique individual experiences that nobody else on earth shares. There are plenty of words, but nobody has ever arranged them in the same way I have. The value of my work comes from my unique expression. Nobody else can write my articles for me, I have to do it, and I have to do it now because I only have a limited time to do it.
I know writing aligns with my purpose because it feels urgent. I am never late for it. I never figuratively stumble across the parking to get to my computer to start writing; there is no 9:03 AM shuffle. Instead, I rise early, and I write early.
I am not a morning person; anyone who knows me can attest to that. I love my bed, and I love sleeping-in. In one night, I could easily sleep 12 hours straight, no problem. If it were up to me, I’d live in my bed. When I wake up, I am a groggy, cranky, and overall non-pleasant person to be around for the first 30-60 minutes in the morning. Writing hasn’t changed that; I am still not a morning person.
What did change, however, is that ever since I started writing, I now use the morning to be productive. I start my day out with as much momentum as possible, springing out of bed on the first buzzer to begin my healthy habit checklist: healthy breakfast, workout, meditation, etc. I started productive habits, so I can be more productive while I write. I began to seize every opportunity I can to do more towards writing because it is urgent.
My purpose made seizing every waking minute of the morning urgent to me, despite not being a morning person. That is why I want you to understand the magnitude of power that aligning your purpose instills in you.
How to Find Your Purpose:
You need to find the thing in your life that will make you rush to get out of bed in the morning, the thing that you will never be late for. This thing is your purpose. Here is my 4-step action guide on how you can align with your purpose:
Step 1: Find what you are passionate about, do this truthfully with yourself
The first step is to find what you are passionate about. The most straightforward question I know to ask to find what you are passionate about is this: If money was nothing to worry about, what would you want to spend the rest of your life doing? That is your passion, and if you are truthful with yourself, then it’s an easy question to answer.
It’s important to note that this passion doesn’t have to be something that you are already good at doing. You can learn to become good at doing it over time. It’s easy to learn how to get good at something that you suck at; all you need to do is start enthusiastically failing it continuously (see my article on “Failing Forward” to learn more about this step).
I know that sometimes it can be easy just to want to work on the things that we are already good at, even if we don’t like those things very much. What is hard, however, is trying to force yourself to be passionate about something that you aren’t.
Learning how to be good at something that you suck at and love is easier than learning how to be passionate about something you are good at but hate.
Find what you love and dedicate all of your free time to it.
Step 2: Determine what you offer that nobody else does
You have to determine the thing in life that you offer the world that no one else does, the thing that is unique to you. Despite you thinking at first that you may not offer anything special, you do. You are a unique individual who has a set of life experiences that no one else shares. You see the world and interact with it uniquely. It may be hard to see what is uniquely you, since to you, it may seem commonplace. However, if you ask those around you, I’m sure they will tell you exactly what sets you apart from other people.
One of the realities of life is that we are all strange. Our individualized journeys make us that way, and that is okay.
Usually, the thing that only you can offer is something related to your strangeness. You know, that thing you are likely self-conscious about. That thing that you are fearful others will judge you for, so you suppress it. Stop suppressing it.
Don’t feel ashamed for whatever that thing may be. It is your gift and nobody else’s. Sure there might be people who do something similar, but there is nobody who will do it just like you. Therefore it is up to you to share your unique gift with the world since no one else can do that for you.
Step 3: Establish urgency within your life
Once you realize that thing is unique to you, then you will recognize that only you can fulfil its delivery. To be blunt, if you die, that thing you offer dies too. Therefore you must do it while you are still breathing, and you only have a limited time to do so.
One large problem is that you don’t have the luxury of setting a charted plan for how you are going to do it. One of the conditions for setting a plan is knowing how much time you have, and then strategize accordingly. The reality is you don’t know how much time you have left to act out your purpose – you could have 20 years, you could have 2. Therefore you can’t set a “plan” for deferring your purposeful actions late; you must make purposeful actions now. This understanding makes things urgent.
Having your purpose be urgent is what leads you to live each day as if it’s your last, not in a frivolous way, but in a purpose-driven way.
To live each day in a purpose-driven way means each day, you must take meaningful actions towards fulfilling that purpose.
Step 4: Take Action
Once you understand that things are urgent and that only you can act out your purpose in a passionate way, you now have to start taking action.
This can seem like a massive undertaking at first glance. Something that I struggled with at first was not taking action because I believed that those actions had to be substantial. The truth is, any action of any size is moving you forward. Even if those actions are minute, when acted out every day for a year, you will see massive progress. Start small, as you find your grove and you will naturally start getting larger without even noticing it. Your current “large actions” will become your “small actions” of the future.
Being consistent with your action is key; that is how you will live every day with purpose. Once your actions holistically embody your purpose, so too will your mind – that is when you will know you are in alignment with your life’s purpose.
Once you have your passion, everything else becomes secondary.
Once you have your uniqueness, you understand your value.
Once you have your urgency, you will never be late for yourself.
Once you start taking action, you will never look back.
Find your passion, determine what makes you unique, establish urgency, and start taking action. Do this and see for yourself how much more purposeful your life becomes.
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