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Finding Your Purpose in Life and a Litmus Test for Busy

litmuspaperWe’re all busy. It used to be when someone asked, “How are you?” the standard answer was “I’m fine, thanks.” More and more frequently you’ll hear the person mention something about being busy or even “crazy busy.”

What exactly is crazy busy? Do we really want to lead lives where it is acceptable to be making ourselves crazy with busyness? Not me. Life’s too short to rush.

Find Your Purpose in Life

I stand for people creating a meaningful life. So the activities I spend my time on relate to that: leading a formal mentoring program for professional pilots, practicing mindfulness, being vulnerable and creating deep connections with others, writing about women conquering their demons, applying to be  a TEDxAnchorage speaker (I got selected as an alternate!) and blogging about ways to live a Big Life.

My life is about inspiring others to live their own Big Life. A life that matters. A life that is fulfilling. This is my why.

Find Your Why

If you haven’t found your why yet, Simon Sinek literally wrote the book on it. I also highly recommend Scott Dinsmore’s Live Your Legend site. Scott’s Connect with Anyone Course was what inspired me to apply as a TEDxAnchorage speaker. Still not sure? Try the 5 Whys exercise.

When I hear from readers thanking me for making them think or feel or wonder or take action, it inspires me. Inspiration breeds inspiration. Passion is contagious. Infect yourself.

When you find your why, being busy doesn’t feel like work. Things become a more of a get to than a have to and that subtle shift makes all the difference. 

Knowing Your Why Helps Determine the “Why” or “Why Not” of Your Busyness

Once you’ve figured out your why, it is easier to determine the “why” or the “why not” of your busyness. Busyness can be about proving something. Or, busyness can be about avoiding something. Or busyness can be because you live a full life.

Your why may be creating a loving home or raising healthy children. Your why might be making your coworkers day a little bit better. We all have various roles in our lives but we all have an overarching why− what we stand for and what we value in life.

Everyone has life maintenance tasks that take up our time− but paying bills, grocery shopping, and doing laundry all contributing to supporting your why. Keeping your life running smoothly, frees your mind to concentrate on the Big Stuff.

Making Go/No-Go Decisions

In my job as an EMS helicopter pilot, we have a cardinal rule: Three to go, one to say no.

What this means is that all three crewmembers need to agree to the flight before we launch. There are many factors we consider in our go/no-go decision making process. Weather is just one of them.

It also means if the weather deteriorates and one individual is no longer comfortable, we will discontinue the flight. Most times we just return back to base. We could also divert to a different landing zone, land where we are or declare an emergency and go inadvertent.

In reality it is rare that a crewmember will say, “Turn around, I don’t like this.” More often is sounds like, “What do you think about the weather?” or “Does that look okay to you?”

Though some pilots have a “hero’s mindset,” I think of myself as more of an ambulance driver than anything else. A phrase I heard in training is, “the patient’s emergency is not your emergency.”

My job is to complete the flight safely. Period. It isn’t saving lives, or being a hero. The nurse and paramedic handle that part.

You can take this same go/no-go decision-making and apply it to your life.

Your Litmus Test for Busy

Ask yourself:

Does this task/commitment/activity forward or hinder my why?

It might mean saying no to a friend. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. You can’t say yes to everything. Practice saying no so you can say yes to what really matters.

Once you opt to do something it doesn’t mean you need to continue. Just as a crewmember or I can discontinue a flight at any point, you can opt out of the things that no longer support your why. It might be uncomfortable. Repeat the litmus test frequently to ensure the activities that full your day promotes your why.

What is your why? What activities do you do that relate to your why? How do you handle busyness? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: David Gould

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Dawn, of Choosing the Better Life February 21, 2013, 9:16 am

    Lorena, I love this article. You’re right – we’re ALL busy. But the important things will get done. It’s the matter of priorities and mindset. I like your litmus test! Even on the island it gets “busy” and I’ve blogged about having to remind myself to CHOOSE to be unbusy! http://choosingthebetterlife.com/2012/07/choosing-to-be-unbusy.html Thanks for the wonderful reminders in your post today. Cheers to your Big Life!

    • Lorena February 21, 2013, 10:19 am

      Thanks Dawn! I do agree- busyness is universal- even in laid-back island culture. Cheers backatcha for your Big Life! :)

  • Tricia February 21, 2013, 10:11 am

    Love it! So simple yet so true. Just reconfirmed my opting out option. Thanks.

    • Lorena February 21, 2013, 10:21 am

      Thanks Tricia! In our culture of achieving more we can often feel guilty for opting out. It takes courage to say no. Good work!

  • Lynndeen February 24, 2013, 5:36 am

    The question of busyness and why? I feel I am busy to have a engaged and happy life, but sometimes I know it avoiding thinking about difficult life issues. Retirement really allows me to choose the life I lead. I must say I love the time to play, reflect, create, learn, and enjoy life. Living in Mexico, I see the acceptance and joy in aging. It is ok to be getting old and to say this could be the last dance, the last ice cream, the last swim….then we are in the moment. Busyiness seems to be gone.

    • Lorena February 26, 2013, 9:09 am

      As with everything, I think there must be balance between thinking about “difficult life issues” and the joy of the moment. It makes me happy to see you happy and enjoying the moment. You are courageous and I’m proud of you for not only surviving but learning how to thrive again after losing dad. I love you and you’re a constant source of inspiration.

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