DO WE REALLY NEED A LIFE’S PURPOSE?

Increasingly, clients come to see me in a wild panic saying things like ‘I don’t know why I am here?’  ‘I need to find my purpose’ or ‘help me find out what my life means?’ These people while all individuals and vastly different in many ways, all have one thing in common; they are the wrong side of 30 and have suddenly realised that eventually, their life will come to an end; maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but the end is lurking in the shadows and is guaranteed to make an appearance at some point in the future. Their life has turned into a grizzly horror film and they need to escape.

While it is guaranteed that we will all die one day, it is still very much a taboo subject, with many of us acting like if we pretend it doesn’t exist then it can’t happen.  Sadly, that is not the case.

It is rare that a childhood dream of becoming a Sculptor, Actor, Writer or Footballer are realised, but what happened to those dreams? They didn’t just disappear. Many times, they are abandoned for practical reasons. Unless you have exceptional talent, are given a lucky break or have an abundance of funds, then you still need to eat and pay the bills, so these dreams are eventually shelved by the necessity of staying alive or providing for a family. Fear of failure, rejection or thoughts of looking foolish to others may stop us in our tracks; there can be a lot of rejection and perceived failure when we are building a dream. Often, we are ‘encouraged’ by others to ‘get a real job’, conform to their idea of living a ‘normal life’ or not be reckless. So, we make ourselves fit into the pigeonholes that others are happy for us to live in. Then we hit 30 or have a health scare and this makes us start questioning our existence, why are we here? We feel we must find our life’s purpose. Even the most religious among us can start to question if there is an afterlife or if we will be given another shot to get things ‘right’.

When I was a child and looked to my future, I imagined that when I got to 30 my life would be sorted; I would be happily married, maybe have a child, a beautiful home and I would be in a career that I loved. When I got there, I was divorced, living in shabby rented accommodation, the single parent of 3 children and hated my job. For me hitting 30 was far harder than 40 or I expect 50 to be. I had grown up with a Disney ideal vision in my head and quite honestly, I was living in a nightmare.   I never really questioned what ‘my purpose’ was, I just wanted to create the life Disney had promised me as a child.

Over the next few years my life made a turn for the better; my career took off, my relationships improved and I bought a house. I was back on track, where I needed to be. Then at 45, I was hit with a cancer diagnosis, overnight, I felt my life needed ‘purpose’, a reason for my existence. Overnight, I had to know that I would leave a footprint in this world once I have departed.

Three years down the line, I am not certain that I have found that answer, I am still evolving, but what I can tell you is that I am happy with the life I am living and the direction I am going; that is a big change.

This panic of increasing age or illness is compounded when you add in the Oxford English Dictionaries definition of ‘Purpose’ which is ‘the reason something is done or created or for which something exists’. In reality, we were created because two people had sex and I am sure they were not thinking ‘I wonder what the life’s work will amount to of any child created in this act’. Ultimately, we are here and need to fill our time while we are here, we can fill it with things that make us miserable like bad relationships or jobs that we hate, or we can fill it doing things we enjoy and spending it with people that we care about.

So maybe the question is not ‘what is my life’s purpose?’ but rather ‘how can I create and live a life that I love and fill my time doing things that I enjoy?’

I cannot tell any of my clients or friends what their ‘purpose’ is, I can only help them explore what is currently in their life which is causing them pain and help them to uncover what they enjoy and where they find the most joy.

After exploring this subject with many clients, I have created a list of 4 key questions which are more valuable than ‘what’s my purpose’ and will help you to uncover how you should be filling your days and who you should be filling them with:

How many Christmases do you have left?

And who do you want around your table? And how do you want to spend them?

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average life expectancy for a man in the UK is 79 and 83 for a woman. I am currently 48, so as a female that leaves me 35 Christmases, that’s not too bad, right? But let’s take into consideration that I smoked for years, have indulged in my fair share of booze and haven’t maintained a consistent exercise routine for most of my life; even though this not the case now, I reckon I’ve probably lost about 5 Christmas through unhealthy living. If I add in my previous cancer and treatment, then that will probably reduce it quite considerably again. I don’t even know by how much, but let’s estimate another 5 years. That takes me down to 25 more Christmases without considering any illness or injury that may happen in the future.

Yeah, this is a biggie and the one question that often takes people’s breath away. Christmas is a time for joy, for celebration and spending time with those that you love. The possibility of only 25 of them doesn’t feel like very many, does it?

There are a few points to this question. Firstly, what are you currently doing in life that is going to rob you of Christmases? Secondly, who is in your life that doesn’t bring joy and happiness? Do you really want to be spending those 25 (or whatever your number is) Christmases with them, being miserable and waiting for a miracle? Thirdly, with who and what would you rather be doing instead?

How would fill your time if I gave you £5m?

OK, so that isn’t going to happen, but imagine if money and time were not an object, then how would you fill your days? What would you be doing and who would you be doing it with? What would bring the most joy to your life?

Would you go back to education and get that degree? Open an animal sanctuary? Play music or paint? Would you build a charity to help others or teach disadvantaged children in poorer countries? The possibilities are endless.

From 2020, the UK pensionable age will rise to 66 years. If we use me as an example again, that means at 48 I have 18 years left of work. With approximately 252 working days in each year, this gives me 4,536 days of work left with 2,034 days, or 5.5 years left for fun or activities that fill my heart and soul. I am lucky; I had an opportunity to reflect and change my life and my focus after my cancer diagnosis and now spend my days doing the things that I love. Could my bank account be bigger, yes, but my bank balance or the possessions I own won’t be listed and handed out at my funeral. For me, money is a necessity, not a focus, I earn money because I need it to exist, I don’t exist to earn money.

Nothing is impossible. Our current options may be limited by money, skill or knowledge, but those things can be gained.  Sometimes our only limitation is that we think we can’t, but what if you could? What would you do if you dared to dream?

What activity makes you forget about time?

And I don’t mean a box set of Scandal or playing Candy Crush.

What are you passionate about, what fills your heart and soul with joy? Is it learning something new, playing the guitar, reading? For me, it’s coaching and writing. I am probably the world’s worst coach for finishing a session on time, I am so passionate about helping people become unstuck and helping them move forward that I must show great discipline in stopping on time.  I started writing this piece randomly 4 hours ago, it feels like only moments. It’s now lunchtime, and I forgot to eat breakfast. I am passionate about it, could it be more polished, yes possibly but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.

What is it you do or dream about that gets you so lost in time that you forget to eat, sleep and find yourself rushing to the loo because you have been so engrossed that your bladder feels like it’s about to burst?  That is the thing you can build upon.

What do you want to be acknowledged or remembered for?

I have a coach friend who asks ‘what do you want to be known for and seen as’, which I have not only borrowed and use with clients but also use for myself and for new ideas.

What do you want people to think and feel when the end finally comes? What will others say about you? How did you impact their lives or what footprint will you leave? What do you want that legacy to be?

If you have an idea, design or method that would benefit the world, then surely it would be selfish not to share it? And you don’t need to invent something or be famous to leave a footprint, that can be done by showing kindness, compassion, and understanding. Sometimes our purpose is to not have a purpose but to spend our time here living a life that we love.

Ultimately our time on earth is limited and precious. Many of us spend decades striving to build a life that conforms or makes others happy so we try to fit our square peg into the round hole. We will all leave

We will all leave a footprint in this world when we depart, what do you want yours to be and when will you live it?

Pope Paul VI said:

‘Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows’

Sue Walsh is a qualified NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach registered with the ANLP. She is a talented coach and therapist who can delve deep to free blockages and behaviours holding you back, freeing you to move forward and achieve your goals.

If you would like her to help you answer the above purpose-finding questions, then check Sue’s details here.

We guarantee you that with her expert coaching and years of experience, you will be able to gain more clarity on your ‘purpose’ and how to design your life around it and the things that you desire.

 


HOW TO HAVE SUCCESSFUL NEW BEGINNINGS


With the emergence of spring and the Easter break, we naturally start thinking of growth, new beginnings, and rebirth. The dullness of winter is gone, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, gardens are in bloom and we are filled again with happiness and hope for the future.

But what happened to our New Year Resolutions and pledges to ‘start anew’ by improving our health, getting a new job, managing our finances better or a focus on leading a happy life? Dreams, which many put on hold for the last few months of the year because we knew that January 1st would give us the opportunity to start anew.

Sadly, for most of us, they are long distant memories with many of us repeating the same habits and behaviours within the first week of January. Sometimes this ‘failure’ will put us back even further than we were before because we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will never be fit, slim or deal with our demons or family issues.

We all know at least one person that regularly announces on social media ‘tomorrow is the day I will sort my life out’.  They will start the diet, sort out their finances or go to the gym so they can finally be happy and emerge into the person they want to be.  While I am sure that at the time of posting these people are highly motivated and fully intend to make those changes, why is it that within days, they post photos of unhealthy meals, nights out drinking or their latest designer purchase? Why do so many people fail at resolutions where others find success? Studies show that over 80% of people will give up on their New Year’s Resolution within the first few weeks. Yes, a massive 80%.

Is it because people are not motivated, weak-willed or just really don’t want to make the changes? You’ll be pleased to know that none of these are the case.

Many of us give up because we think our problem is too big, that it must be a long drawn out or costly process or sometimes because we feel we are not good enough and don’t deserve it.  We can’t imagine or visualise what the result will give us and the perceived pain of the struggle or dealing with our negative self-belief outweighs any gain, so in many cases, we don’t even start.

The great news is, you can change these patterns and develop new strategies with easy NLP techniques to help you achieve your goals and boost your confidence which will lead you to success.

Unlike many other therapies, NLP is solution, rather than problem focused. Even deep rooted issues can be resolved in a few short weeks, you do not need months or years of therapy to let go of a painful past or start planning your future.

Developed from modern psychology, NLP is one of the most invaluable and empowering methods to bring about rapid, positive change and transformation for a wide variety of behavioural, psychological and emotional issues. The extensive NLP techniques can be used to help us achieve our goals, build belief and confidence, eradicate fears, phobias and negative thought patterns and beliefs and in addition, can effectively tackle past negative experiences and trauma.

So, if we are not lacking in motivation or weak-willed, what is stopping us getting to where we want to be and how do we move from being in the 80% bracket into the 20% success bracket? The 5 main barriers to success are:

  • Lack of focus brought about by trying to make too many changes all in one go
  • Unreal expectations on how quickly or how much we can change in a short period
  • Focusing on the problem rather than the positive result
  • Self-sabotage
  • Lack of support – doing it alone

Think of these as paper walls, rather than ones made of brick; they are obstacles not blocks, with only a little effort required to breaking through them.

Lack of focus

When an architect designs a house or new building he has a vision of what the overall result look like, inside and out, from the top to the bottom. He also knows for the building to remain stable and safe, the ground must first be cleared, the footings dug and the utilities (gas, electric, water) connected. The frame will be added and the floors and staircase built, with the roof, interior design and gardens being finished last. There is an overall goal but it is broken down into manageable stages to ensure success. Each stage is completed before moving onto the next one. There are often delays due to weather or unforeseen circumstances but he doesn’t give up on the project and abandon it at the first hurdle, these are just delays or challenges.

Focus on one area at a time and build from there. Trying to achieve too much at once will seem like an impossible task and dilute your efforts.

 Unrealistic expectations

Just like the architect and builders know the order needed for success in completing a new building, they also don’t attempt to build an entire mansion in a weekend with a spoon and fork.

Be honest with yourself and think about what it is you would like to achieve and what is a safe, realistic timescale. If you currently lead a sedentary lifestyle but would like to improve your fitness and run a marathon you are going to need to take several factors into account to ensure you do that safely:

What time, resources or money do you need to help you achieve this? While walking and running are free, fit for purpose running shoes are not?

When and how often will you train? What time can you and will you dedicate to this? Will you need to get up earlier or arrange any childcare? What events or social activities will you need to cancel to train?

How will you measure your success? What milestones will you put in place? Will you download an app to help you see your improvement?

Are there any adjustments you need to make to your diet so your body is fuelled correctly? Or will you require any supplements?

To achieve a goal, you need to plan for it. And to plan for it, you need to have a specific goal in mind.

Wanting to be able to run 5k continuously in 6 weeks is a specific, realistic goal, saying you’re going to start running isn’t. It is easier to break down when you know exactly what it is you want to achieve.

Focusing on the problem rather than the positive result

Research shows that people have far more success when they focus on a positive result rather than a problem.

What is it you want to achieve? ‘giving up’ smoking’ has a very different meaning to ‘being smoke-free’. The first implies that you will be losing out in some way, the second that you will benefit. How can you turn your goal into a positive? Think about what you will see, hear, think and feel when you cross that line, get into that dress or receive that job offer?

Visualising the result and the journey to get there can be a powerful catalyst to moving you from the 80% of people who fail to the 20% of people who succeed.

Self-Sabotage

This may surprise you but self-sabotage is a myth. Self-sabotage is really the excuse you tell yourself, it’s a kind of wrongly wired inner dialogue where you tell yourself ‘you can’t’ or that you are ‘not worthy’ or ‘it’s too hard’. Yes, running 26.2 miles is hard, doing chair exercises or putting on a pair of trainers and going for a walk isn’t.

If your goals are clear, realistic, achievable and well planned then you cannot fail. Yes, I said you cannot fail.

There will be celebrations and parties which may mean your healthy eating goes off track, you might get ill and not feel like going for a run, or you may have a few glasses of wine or a cigarette. Remember that a bad day, week or meal does not mean failure, it means you are human. Accept it for what it is, move on and continue moving forward.

Lack of support

Who will support you in your goal? And who will stand in your way?

For many, publicly declaring our intentions on social media makes us feel accountable and that we are not ‘Doing it Alone’. While there are many reasons we give up, not having support can be a big fracture. Sadly, sometimes those around us want to keep us where we are, they don’t want us to ‘rock the boat’, it helps them to stay comfortable.

If support is something you are lacking; then where else can you get this? Could you join a gym, running or swimming club? Perhaps you could join an on-line forum or social media group where you can celebrate in each other’s successes and express any concerns or receive guidance. You don’t have to do it alone.

Whether your goal is to improve health and fitness, develop a new career or tackle issues from your past, having a coach or therapist is a great way to explore any blockages holding you back and to develop a clear plan to move forward.

Before you start, do a simple ecology check by asking yourself 3 quick questions:

  • Is this for me or someone else?

If you pledge to lose weight to please a partner or because you think you ‘should’, then you are unlikely to achieve success or maintain weight loss in the long term.

  • Why are am I doing it?

Taking just a little time and really thinking about what you want to gain can be the difference, that makes the difference and which will increase your chances of success.

  • What are the wider consequences of my action?

Will it impact your wider life or affect anyone else? Is it safe or could it cause harm to yourself or others? Often clients are worried that relationships may be destroyed by seeking help for family issues, this really doesn’t have to be the case and considering any wider impact will only benefit.

Finally, remember change can take time but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Having a clear vision and plan and considering any potential obstacles and challenges will set you on the path to success.

Don’t wait until you have reached your goal to be proud of yourself to celebrate your successes, be proud of yourself every step of the way because you will be in that 20%.

Sue Walsh is a qualified NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach registered with the ANLP. She is a talented coach and therapist who can delve deep to free blockages and behaviours holding you back, freeing you to move forward and achieve your goals.

 

If you would like her help in planning out the steps to your desired goal, check Sue’s details here.

We guarantee you that with her expert coaching and years of experience, you will be able to establish which of the above challenges you might be facing and most importantly feel empowered and motivated to overcome them. Remember, you don’t have to DO IT ALONE!

We, at Calmer Clinics, have the support you need :).