I teach a workshop on "Finding Your Life Purpose". In this workshop, I start by asking people to identify the values that direct their life and rate each value in terms of how important they are in their life. I then ask them to rate the same values in terms of how well they honor them in their life. In every case where a value is ranked high in importance, but low in fulfillment, there is a common reason. Duty. Duty [doo-tee, dy00], noun, plural duties (even more stifling) - something that one is expected or required to do, moral or legal obligation.
I work a lot with caregivers - professional and family. This group has a high level of guilt when they do anything for themselves. My message to them (and to you, if you are structuring your life around someone else's desires or needs) is that you can only be the best for them when you are the best for you. The first patient (or master) is you.
Synchronistically, as I'm writing this, Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" shuffled onto my Pandora station. I think it is a sign I should end of my workshop from now with this anthem. The lyrics say it all. "It's my life. It's now or never. I ain't gonna live forever. I just want to live while I'm alive." and it goes on.
This is where you say, "Yeah, easy to say. Hard to do". True. The process of starting to live life purpose guided by values instead of duties is bigger than my three hour workshop. I assign accountability partners who are requested to stay in touch for at least 6 months of weekly checkins. The secret is to attempt to do something every day that honors your values and find a way, at least once a week to take control of your duties. This means deciding if you are going to take a phone call when the phone rings (duty) or call back at your convenience (control). Will you go to that party that you should go to (duty) or decline to go in order to do something you really want to do (control)?
On this day before Thanksgiving, I urge each of you to be thankful for all you do for YOU. If you are not living your life purpose right now, my wish for you in this holiday season is that you discover your true life purpose and nurture it to it's fullest potential in the new year.