Life Purpose Principles

This is the first in a new series of blogs, focusing on nine things that I reckoned I’ve learned about how to be happy and healthy. Why nine and not ten? Well, I like threes, so three squared seemed like a good number. And ten is just so very… well, DECIMAL. Ten commandments always seemed to me just a tad too many. So nine it is.

Spreading the message - Roz at Fox 40 in Sacramento this week

My first top tip for having a happy life is to find a purpose, something to get you bouncing out of bed in the mornings eager to get on with the day – or if mornings really aren’t your thing, let’s at least aim for not pulling the covers up over your head and wishing the world would go away.

The purpose doesn’t have to be epic or grand – although as I’ll come to in a later blog, I think that it helps if you have a sense that the purpose is bigger than you are. Depending on your personality, level of ambition, and stage of life, it might be getting your golf handicap down to four, knitting a jacket for a grandchild, or cultivating a prize-winning orchid. The main thing is that it has to be YOURS. And it’s never too late. In fact, finding a purpose late in life is quite possibly the best way to stave off old age and decrepitude. You just won’t have TIME to feel old, and will have too strong a reason to live to allow yourself to die.

Again depending on your personality, I’d recommend making it challenging, but do-able. It should push you just a little bit outside of your comfort zone. This is, by definition, uncomfortable, but trust me – the sense of satisfaction when you have taken on a challenge and achieved it will make this temporary discomfort completely worthwhile. Feel the fear – and do it anyway.

So how do you go about finding it? This is what I did. I imagined I was looking back at my life from my deathbed. What would make me proud of my time on this earth? What would make me feel I had left it a slightly better place than I had found it? And here was the real kicker of a question: was I on track for that kind of a life? If I carried on as I was, living every day as I was now living, would I end up with that kind of a life?

Or not?

The answer didn’t come to me immediately. In fact, it took another few years of asking and waiting. But then, one day, the answer just popped into my head fully formed, and I knew it immediately for what it was. It was my Perfect Project.

How do you know when you have found it? You will feel invigorated, and able to overcome any obstacle. When you’re pursuing it you rapidly get into the zone, losing yourself in your activity. You’ll forget to be shy, hungry, or annoyed about that thing that happened in the office today. It becomes all-consuming. You don’t want to take time out to do anything else.

Which isn’t to say that it will always be easy. But we’ll come to that. Over the coming weeks I’ll do my best to give you some useful tips that will help when the going gets tough.

To sum up today’s Life Purpose Principles:

– Don’t think about growing older. Just focus on growing.

– Link between present action and desired future outcome: am I going where I want to go?

– Don’t do it for others. Do it for yourself.

– Courage comes from having a sense of purpose that is bigger than your fear.

[I'd welcome your feedback on this blog. I've drafted the first 4 of my 9, so I look forward to hearing whether you find this useful before I write my last 5!]

  • http://www.flying-poodles.com Karen Morss

    My Dear Roz,

    I hope this is the first chapter of your next book! Bravo, lovely lady and very well said!
    So many people will be touched by your words.

    Still Growing,

    Karen

  • http://www.angelahey.com Angela Hey

    Biking and training for the California Climate Ride was a great purpose! Thanks Roz!

  • laurey masterton

    Oh yes, Roz. Keep writing and sending them out. Yes!

    Laurey

  • http://web.mac.com/answerthecall/iWeb/Site/Actions.html UncaDoug

    Excellent, Roz! I’m with Karen, Angela and Laurey. Thank you.
    This post and the four summary bullets hit the nail on the head for me.
    As you keep rowing and writing, I keep learning and growing … at 63!
    (If you ever forget what I said last week, I’ll send you my notes. It’s true.)

    Cheers!
    Doug

    BTW, “three squares’ was the answer to a quiz on yesterday’s NPR program Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Three square is good! How coincidental ;-D

  • Jay Gosuico

    I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet vast numbers of people at any given day. And I enjoy people watching whenever the opportunity exists. I like to take mental pictures of them. I consider how involved they are in the activity that they are doing. Then I note the natural expressions and facial lines that they portray. I find it fascinating that some look inherently sad or angry or happy or worried or blessed or content. Then I turn the “mental” camera around and imagine that someone was taking a picture of my face. That is the face that I would like emblazoned on their camera “film”, in hopes that I have affected them in a way that it “elevates” their day. As you can tell, I will probably die with a smile on my face.(or probably sticking my tongue out) … It works for me ~Jay Gosuico …good works Roz, happy to be a part of it.

  • http://www.creativecollaborativ.com Andy

    Kristen Westlake introduced me to your journey and I have been following it with fascination. Thank you for this, because I am struggling with this as we speak. I feel I have lost my purpose. Anyway, I particularly resonate with the 4th – Courage comes from having a sense of purpose that is bigger than your fear. It’s only in the last short while that I have been working on living my life and not my fear…so reawakening to my purpose is about living my life.
    I await the next five principles’ Yes, this could be the beginning of a wonderful book about your journey, but do you need a “book” or is a conversation like this rich enough…onward…
    have a good day wherever your travels take you – Andy

  • Carol Page-Potter

    Thank you sharing this exercise with us Roz. I was having a bleak day – down with a sinus infection, missing my late husband, and having just turned 53 two days ago, thinking about how to make my life meaningful again now that so many things have changed. You words were encouraging and thought provoking. I am ever so glad I picked up your book on the library shelf over a year ago and found your website. Keep it coming!

  • gloriana casey

    “Roz’s Poem”
    from gloriana casey

    You will know you have your purpose,
    when Time it steps away.
    And floating in your Mind- field there
    will power up the day.

    When you’re in synch with thoughts and acts,
    poerty in motion!
    And Time, will build a shrine to life;
    Follow your True Notion!***

  • http://www.lamponthepath.org/ Wendy Perkins

    Roz, thank you – you exemplify what Deepak Chopra urges:
    In a world full of despair, we can still dare to dream.
    ‘Live the question: what is the meaning and purpose of my life’.
    I just want to add that this path may have twists and turns and needs to be cultivated, I was helped by Dekyi Lee Oldershaw and the tools available on www/lamponthepath.org to find my way yet again.

    keep it up!

  • william

    Great start to your list of 9 Roz. I do wish a daily dose of passion (emotional not romantic, that is another list)is part of the simplicity of non conformity some list, for somebody? ha ha .
    Finding a way to be in a semi-balance state while creating a life beyond ones present limiting comfort zone.Yep , that is progress in real time. Being a little zen while standing on the edge of color at the top of the rainbow after a terrible storm.
    That is when ones heart is beating in unison with the wind, waves and sun. Pass the chocolates. Don’t look back.
    Write on wave breaker. Thank you for doing what you do, do , do.

    Smiles on the inside or out. Are just a dance standing still for a blink.

    What could the next 5 ….be? hm hm .
    To fit ones complete life’s wisdom into a thimble.
    Goes without saying,
    Never judge a thought by it’s size.

    They all matter. So do you Roz. Thank you for constantly reaching beyond your grasp.
    The goodness shows.
    To your journey,
    bill

  • John Faulkner

    Amy says:
    October 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm
    Wishing you safe travels and successful events.

    Thanks to you and Vic for taking the time to make the Roz Roams podcast – http://rozroams.squarespace.com/ – I’ve enjoyed listening.

    (By the way I like the website redesign.)

    Thanks
    Amy

    John Faulkner says:
    October 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm
    Well done Mum. You must be so proud. I know a bit about what she is doing and it’s fantastic! I sailed my boat, Tjaldur, round the Pacific 12 years ago. Two days before we left a young fellow on the dock suggested I start a website to share with all the lost soles on shore. It was a touch more difficult in those days and I told him I wanted to sail in reality, not in virtual reality. Your daughter is doing both and how I admire her for it. My voyage on a one year sabatical was the biggest thing I look back on in my very full life. I pray she will be safe and perhaps calm down a tad. No matter, she is living her dream and what else counts?

  • http://Highlandvitamins.com Ken Scott

    Roz, keep it up…the first 4 are, as always, great. My problem is I have a few goals that are conflicting…but I have done most of them, my company, my wife, my sail boat (all out of my comfort zone) and my grandchildren/great grandchildren…so let’s see what your next 5 ideas are, I’m waiting.

  • Bruce

    I’ve been thinking about my two young daughters and the world we are leaving behind for them for quite some time now. Your talk in Sacramento, California, really had a major impact on me. I had not heard of you before the talk. Since your talk I’ve had an epiphany and focus that I never had before. I’m finding strength, resolve and purpose in the realization that my priority is the world we leave for their future. It’s not about me. I’m totally committed the world’s environmental health, starting at the local community level. I’ve recently learned about Transition Towns(started in Totnes, UK), promoting local community resilience. This model is a good first step for me. I’m learning. Keep you posted. Thanks, Roz, for your incredible contributions! You are really doing something good here. -Bruce

  • http://web.mac.com/answerthecall/iWeb/Site/Actions.html UncaDoug

    These thoughts especially from Gloriana and Bruce rekindle my reaction when I first heard Roz speak the week before setting out from Honolulu, her course then set for Tuvalu. Since then, for me, it has been a constant, stretching, daily trek. Very nice poem Gloriana. You have inspired a haiku which sums it up for me …

    growing every day
    own the present, subside fear
    intentional course

  • http://www.wikima.com Romy Shovelton

    dearest Roz – as ever you have a gift for putting these things in a real and therefore truly powerful & accessible way. And indeed, you have focused on what I too would see as the key. I feel that you, I and others with such passions, are very fortunate to have that passion / dreams / sense of purpose. I am reflecting on how to support those who do not have that sense – how to help them to capture it / delve for it? My friend Bernie, who you know, is someone deeply needing this. Thanks for the inspiration dear one… Looking forward to the next 5! xx Romy

  • Walt@noaa

    CHAMPION OF ALL THE WORLDS HIGH SEAS, CHAMPION OF LIFE!
    Ran into a guy doing doucumentaries of people changing their world. Pointed him in your direction. ww@noaa

  • jesse

    Keep it going! Just saw you on Studio 4 and was immediately interested in reading more. So yeah, the blog is a good thing. The more I hear people talking about following a dream so to speak, or taking on some cause (eg the environment) the better I feel about life and its possibilities. I have made some minor changes of late, holding back from the bigger ones, but this inspires me. thank you.

  • Boris

    hey Roz!
    you are so inspiring! I haven’t read your blog ,
    but listened to you speak at Sac State.
    And I could say that I would sail the ocean any day, granted some preparation first!
    I’m working on the clear vision!
    Thanks for everything,
    Boris

  • http://rawsomelifeanew.blogspot.com Naomi

    Roz,

    Just discovered your new and improved blog and read the first one and LOVE it! Of course, please write the next 5! I’ve been a bit out of the Roz “loop” the last few months but will be following you again more faithfully. You ALWAYS inspire — not just by word, but more importantly by deed.

    Aloha,
    Naomi in NY

  • Mike

    Roz,

    I agree completely with what you have written. In a different way I did much the same with similar struggle but eventualy resolution. I no longer live in the U.S. and have lived in Latin America for 13 years. I now live in one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere and work every day to try to make things better. Much, if not most of the time, this purpose seems thwarted but I keep going and while life has regrets, I do not regret the big changes that I made. Nothing is particularly easy, I did not seek “easy.” Sometimes my heart nearly breaks when I see what the rich and powerful do in the world and what the poor and dispossessed have to do to survive. So be it. Best wishes in all that you do.

  • Roz Savage

    As my wise former webmaster, Tim Harincar, once said to me, “if it was easy, everybody would be doing it”, apropos rowing the Atlantic. Mike – keep up the good work.