Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 11: Goals versus Purpose

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Goals are like the center marks on a highway. They are visible and doable. They are the road we travel. They seem to be taking us on a journey, but to where?

I’ve been reviewing some of my short terms goals and it got me thinking. All of these goals should be pointing to something down the road. But to what? What is the larger picture of what I’m doing? What is my purpose? When I got to the word “purpose” I stopped. That’s what I was missing. I had not defined this. If I can’t verbalize the overall purpose for why these goals are the right ones for me, I’ll never get out of my comfort zone. Or not completely to a place where I can live the life I want for myself.

For my goals, whether I achieve them or not, should be leading me down a highway that I have defined. If not, then I’m probably going in circles. If I’m not going anywhere, it’s a big clue that I’m caught in my comfort zone and not really making the progress I thought I was.

Purpose is all about direction. It is defined by values and beliefs. It cannot come from outside of yourself. It cannot be defined by anyone but you.

While my goals are the road I’m traveling, I also need that map to make sure those goals support my overall purpose.

What is it I want to achieve with my life? Are my goals taking me there or leading me astray?

I know where I am and where I’ve been. Those are good starting points in making sure I know where I’m going. I’ve thought and thought about what my purpose is. I’ve done some journaling. It’s even crept into my dreams. (And yes, I wrote those down.)

Then I asked myself: Deep within my soul, what do I find satisfying?

I’ve always loved helping others. I’ve loved being able to help people find their way to what they want to do. That’s one of the reasons I became a writing coach. It was another way to achieve this. Along the way, I had to grow and change and expand so that I could do this. Out of this I found my purpose: I want to reach out to others and have a positive impact on them.

Part of having a purpose is: What do I get out of this?

Once I could write down my purpose, this part was easier. I am re-inspired and learn and grow when I help someone realize their own dream. (And no, this in no way means I have to give up anything to fulfill my purpose. Your purpose should enhance your life, not have the opposite effect. If that’s the case, you need to re-evaluate what your purpose is.)

How do you know if the purpose you discover is the RIGHT one? Maybe thinking in terms of right and wrong don’t make a lot of sense when defining your purpose. I know I’m on the right path, using the right map, when I wake up in the morning and I feel all light and excited to have another new day before me. It’s about how I FEEL and my INTUITION.

Always revisit your goals to make sure they are supporting your purpose. Ask yourself:

What am I achieving through this goal?

Why am I doing this?

My comfort zone CANNOT close me off to the world if I understand my purpose and have goals that will carry me in that direction.

Challenge for today: Take a look at where you’ve been and where you are now. Can you see and verbalize where you’re going? Are you on the a road that will get you to your purpose?

Best Wishes,

June

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Storytelling – Have We Forgotten?

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As a child, I remember asking my mom to read the same stories, mostly fairy tales, to me over and over. Why? Because these are STORIES. They have active characters, cool settings, events I could relate to, and meaning. I cheered, cried, worried and wondered as the stories were read. I was connected to the characters and the story events, the emotional journey.

These stories come in complete packages. This is storytelling. No wonder these tales are passed down, generation to generation after hundreds of years.

Where are those kinds of stories today? Have we forgotten what stories are? Forgotten that we are storytellers?

How many times have you seen a book, workshop, class, or article and thought: If I take this class or read this book, this will move me to a new level in my writing and take me to the place I need to be to get published? This is THE ANSWER.

Sound familiar? Afterwards, while we have learned and applied this new technique, there’s still something missing. We then repeat this process, moving on to the next “new” technique.

I’m not saying that improving our writing by reading or attending workshops, isn’t helpful. All of these are small pieces of a bigger picture. What we, as writers are missing is that BIG PICTURE.

Many times, when writers talk or write about “what makes a great story,” the discussion goes to the writing process, or that stories should be character driven, or show—don’t tell… And this list goes on and on. But these individual aspects of story don’t make a great story by themselves.

Being able to weave in all the various story craft elements, supported by story structure as the foundation, and meaning (theme) that encompasses our story at all points adds up to storytelling that readers can enjoy and gain satisfaction from over the generations. Everything has to work together at the deepest possible level.

The mind works as both a camera and a mirror. We take in experiences (the camera) and those are processed and reflected back (the mirror) as we change and grow as an individual. Storytelling works the same way. It is the camera through which the reader experiences the story world. Story also reflects back the soul of the character, through story meaning, and impacts the reader at the same level.

Does the reader marvel at the point of view choice of the writer? Character development? The growth of the protagonist? The development of the story as it moves to the black moment and into the climax?

No. Readers understand the story as a WHOLE experience. Not in pieces. We can’t let the pieces distract us from what story is about.

While writers need to understand all the pieces that go into the story, we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture of storytelling: It all has to WORK TOGETHER seamlessly.

Challenge for today: What is your favorite story and what makes that a story to remember?

Best Wishes,

June

Out of the Comfort Zone – Part 10: Awareness and Forgiveness

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After stepping—yes, baby stepping—out of my personal comfort zone, I’m acutely aware of my fears, their voices, and their impact on me. Sometimes they are needed, such as we learn as young children when we’re told to look before crossing the street or don’t touch the stove. These are good fears, ones that are meant to help us.

But. Most of the time the fears suffocate instead of protecting, working against instead of for us, keep us from enjoying new experiences or living fully.

When I am AWARE of the fear and its motivation, I can decide if it’s a fear I should listen to or one that I need to shift from. I can decide. Me. I. Choose.

I choose the following:

When I’m aware of guilt, I will use this energy to change myself for the better.

When I’m hurt, I will remind myself what a caring person I am.

When I’m angry, I will take the energy of this emotion and become an agent of change.

When I’m discouraged, I will use this to shift it into finding the courage I need to move forward.

I will not let fears, after evaluating them, have power over me. I will listen to the voice of fear and become aware. I will see its true nature and shift it down a different path. I will shift it, mold it, and take it into me, to use, in a way that empowers me.

It will not keep me from living my dream, from taking the baby steps that I need to move outside my comfort zone.

Once I am aware of my fears and what appropriate actions I will take as a result, what’s next?

Forgiveness.

I forgive others, living inside their own fears, for helping me to stay inside my comfort zone.

I forgive my friends when they stood in my way, acting like enemies.

I forgive myself for treating my true friends, trying to support me, trying to draw me forth, as enemies.

I forgive myself. For everything.

I forgive.

If I cannot forgive, I am reinforcing the walls of the comfort zone.

Forgiveness is also about LETTING GO. If I expend energy in not forgiving—others and myself—that is energy removed from seeking to live my dream.

MOVE from letting go to loving.

Love everything. Everything in the universe: fear, anger, joy, courage, guilt, loving  … All of this: It is life. LOVE LIFE.

First there is awareness, the courage to forgive, and the ability to fully love.

This puts me on the road to living my dream.

Challenge for today: What have you discovered on your own journey about awareness and forgiveness? Share if you wish…

Best Wishes,

June