I spent time last week working through my Life Atlas by Monk Manual. The tool allows the reader to clarify your life vision, conduct a personal inventory through the lens of your life vision, plan for the year ahead, and then for each quarter as they come up.
Last year (2023) was a challenging year. I rediscovered this while working toward clarity around my life vision and conducting an honest personal inventory. Many things changed for my wife and I:
- We transitioned from active duty, purchased a new home, and moved to a new state.
- I faced ongoing health challenges that started in 2022 - resulting in an inability to drive from late May to late November.
- I retired from my twenty-two-year military career.
- My business did not grow as envisioned when I started it in 2022.
My reflection time also reminded me of the positives:
- I did deep mindset work and (mostly) maintained a positive mindset during the challenges.
- I built an effective, post-military retirement rhythm of life.
- I made significant progress on completing a book proposal.
- I finished my work year by stepping into video work (in my discomfort zone).
- I was the driver for 9 of the 11 hours Vicki and I spent on the road to and from Tennessee for Christmas with our daughter and her husband.
Another positive was working with Marisa Shadrick to create a new reflection guide called The Path to Purposeful Leadership: The 12 Myths that Leave Leaders Unfulfilled and Disconnected. We built this fillable reflection guide around four life rhythms I have identified as critical for leaders to evaluate themselves regularly:
- Spiritual Rhythms
- Physical Rhythms
- Emotional Rhythms
- Relational Rhythms
The guide presents three myths and truths for each rhythm, allowing leaders to evaluate themselves in the four rhythm areas.
It is a bird's eye view and evaluation of life rhythms.
Over the next few weeks, I will go deeper. I’ll offer robust, actionable conversation over each rhythm and a reflection prompt to stimulate your thinking. I’ll do this by expanding in turn on each rhythm and then the myths and truths in the guide (BTW, if you don’t want to wait, you can obtain your free copy here).
We’ll first tackle spiritual rhythms.
Spiritual practices provide a sense of grounding and connection to something greater than ourselves. They offer a space for reflection, inner peace, and personal growth.
Engaging in a rhythm of spiritual practices helps us cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves, our values, and our purpose in life. It can also serve as a source of comfort, guidance, and inspiration during challenging times.
We create an opportunity to nourish our souls and nurture our inner well-being by making spiritual practices a part of our daily routine.
Examples of Spiritual Practices
- Mindfulness: Engaging in mindfulness or guided meditation to cultivate a sense of calm and clarity.
- Prayer: Connecting with a higher power through personal or traditional prayers.
- Journaling: Reflecting on your thoughts, emotions, and experiences to gain insight and self-awareness.
- Gratitude: Expressing gratitude for the blessings in your life through daily affirmations or writing in a gratitude journal.
- Nature connection: Spending time in nature, appreciating its beauty, and feeling a sense of awe and interconnectedness.
When I think about purpose through spirituality, three myths come to mind:
- Purpose often comes through a dramatic spiritual revelation or life-altering spiritual experience.
- Purpose is meaningful when aligned with a spiritual mission that drives global impact.
- Purpose discovery is a one-time event, after which it remains unchanged.
I grew up in a faith tradition where expressive emotions (sometimes emotionalism) were part of our spiritual experiences. In my youth, I hopeful for a dramatic revelation telling me what my life purpose was supposed to be.
I often tended to look for the next mountaintop experience whenever I went away for camp or a retreat. I may or may not experience the mountaintop experience. Invariably, I would return to the normalcy of my everyday life.
Many mistakenly believe it suddenly descends upon us in a singular, awe-inspiring moment. We envision it coming wrapped in a dramatic revelation or life-altering experience that leaves us breathless and invigorated.
We wait patiently, hoping such a monumental event will provide us the answers we seek, like a beautiful, enchanted gift from the universe, from the divine.
Reality paints a different picture.
Discovering one's purpose isn't typically an earth-shattering revelation; instead, it's revealed subtly like the first light of dawn breaking the horizon. It emerges gently from our regular lived experiences and sustained spiritual practices.
Dramatic, grand gestures are not where we find our purpose. Instead, we find it in everyday moments of joy and fulfillment.
This realization process doesn’t reinvent us; it slowly peels back layers to reveal our true selves.
Acknowledging how discovering purpose is less like a sudden bolt of lightning and more like a quiet sunrise is essential. Yes, dramatic revelations or life-altering experiences can provide shifts in perspective, but more often than not, purpose appears gently and gradually.
It is an unfolding process, a mysterious journey that greets us subtly through everyday experiences: a heartfelt chat with an old friend, reading a moving book that triggers introspection, or moments of solitude, causing us to delve deeper into our perceptions.
The sustenance of spiritual practices, mini revelations during morning meditations, or the stillness experienced during heartfelt prayers constructs the foundation for a deeper understanding of our purpose.
These practices help clear the fog of confusion, enabling us to interpret life and our role with better precision.
This continuous realization is less theatrical, less dramatic, but equally, if not more, transformational, guiding us towards the path of purpose.
From personal experience, purpose doesn't always come knocking with a grand revelation or a jarring life event. Most of the time, it tiptoes into your life while you are busy living it.
We live most of life in the ordinary. Gaining true purpose requires listening to the familiar rhythms of our lives. Meaning in our lives comes in the seemingly insignificant experiences and the undramatic moments - gently nudging you towards a sentiment of 'this feels right,’ of purposeful living.
As I journeyed through life, I found my real purpose subtly emerging, quietly evolving in everyday events and decisions. This process has taught me that it's less about waiting for a hallelujah moment to strike and more about observing the wisdom unfolding in the details.
Gleaning clarity from the profoundness of our daily experiences is where we find purpose.
Sometimes, the most profound revelations emerge gradually, almost coyly, through sustained spiritual exploration and practice.
Reflect on the shifts in your life:
- What essential experiences or moments have shaped your beliefs, values, and aspirations?
- Even if you still need to define your purpose, consider how these influential moments (remember to include the ordinary) might guide you toward your life vision.
As you enter 2024, will you pursue purposefulness in your leadership (personally and professionally)?
What steps will you commit to to find your most profound purpose over the coming weeks of this first quarter?
When you look back on March 31, what are you committed to clarifying in your life?
Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
I’m committed to walking the journey with you. I am actively at work writing a book I’ve tentatively titled Living a Connected Life: Becoming a Purposeful Leader, along with a course/mastermind.
We need more flourishing, purposeful leaders in our world. I’d love to discuss my vision of what can be in 2024 and what you see coming in your life. Connect with me here, and let’s talk.
If you’ve not yet obtained your free copy of my reflection guide, dive into the depths of leadership with Your Path to Purposeful Leadership: The 12 Myths That Leave Leaders Unfulfilled and Disconnected. Discover transformative insights for your leadership journey.