Frenetic Activity & Unnecessary Obligations are Keeping You from Your Purpose
Do you feel obligated to support, manage, and do things for other people, even if they don’t appreciate or need it?
If you’re not busy, do you worry or feel lost?
Do you feel a need to connect your efforts to immediate or eventual financial gain?
Is your life a perpetual to-do list allowing you to knowingly put off what you “really want”?
It’s stunning how many smart, successful people are stuck in a cycle of frenetic activity without achieving the outcomes they truly want. In 28 years of coaching men and women, this is more normal than meeting individuals living with passion and purpose.
We are bombarded with messages telling us that we need to be doing more, achieving more, and keeping up with the latest trends. But this constant pressure to be busy comes at a cost. You end up filling your schedule with activities and to-do’s, much of which is in service to the upkeep of material infrastructure: the house, the cars, the insurance, expensive education, kids in ALL the activities, IG-worthy vacations, and the endless need for more stuff. Most of this effort and the outcomes it yields aren’t necessarily right or purposeful, and much of it gets you nowhere except in debt or keeps you on the treadmill of earning-spending. You end up squandering away your valuable time (aka your life) and putting off the most essential decisions and actions until it’s too late.
This is so normal that I’m confident that you have said or heard others say things like:
“I’d love to go on that annual fishing trip with my brother and childhood buddy, but we have a doubleheader, a soccer tournament, and a birthday party. And I have to do my duty, or I’ll be in the doghouse.”
“We are spending more on this bat mitzvah than we spent on our wedding. But you know how it is if the kids don’t have a photo booth, DJ, and the best caterers, it’s all over. So, I’m doing my thing and shutting my mouth.”
“I guess I’m just in that part of my life where I make the sacrifices so that we can live the dream. Someday, I’ll have the life I want.”
These are real, recent quotes. I bring these up for inspection and, hopefully, this blog becomes the catalyst for you to see your version of this story and, when you are ready, make a change. The reality you are creating is yours to maintain or yours to evolve.
First, let’s examine alternative ways this could all look and feel:
A Life of Purpose and Passion
Ultimately, the key to breaking free from the cycle of endless activities and consumerism is to activate your purpose and passion. This means taking the time to reflect on what truly matters to you, what excites you, and what you want to contribute to the world. Once you’ve identified your purpose, you can begin to take intentional steps toward living a life that aligns with it.
You may be skeptical that a life of purpose can’t be practical or pay the bills. I challenge that and point you to the many organizations that are measurably making meaningful changes in the world while also creating wealth and abundance for all stakeholders.
When you focus on purpose-driven action, you experience numerous benefits:
You’ll feel more fulfilled, energized, and confident in yourself and your abilities.
As a role model for your children, you’ll live with an expanded, multidimensional dashboard of success, with metrics beyond a paycheck, title, and material gains; you’ll value service, giving back, and making a big impact with highly focused personal intellect and talents.
By prioritizing purposeful action, you can create a life that truly matters - not just to yourself but to the world, potentially for generations.
Right Action vs. Constant Activity
One of the biggest pitfalls of frenetic activity is that it can create a false sense of productivity. We busy ourselves with endless to-do lists and tasks, but we’re not necessarily making progress toward our goals, making that big impact, or living a fulfilling life. This is a trap that contributes to that “Groundhog Day” feeling (living the same day over and over) and eventually leads to regret (“I should have…”) and a feeling of emptiness at the end of life.
High-Value Effort vs. Obligation
An overactive sense of duty and obligation to others can trap you in an endless cycle of problem-solving and achievement. This leads to a constant need to prove one's worth through making money and fixing things for others. Unfortunately, this often also results in neglecting your health, needs, and desires. Many men and women end up sacrificing their dreams and settling for a job they don't love to fulfill obligations to their families and sustain an established lifestyle.
While it is important to honor commitments and show kindness to others, it is equally important to not be seduced into believing that our value comes solely from what we achieve for our family and friends.
Making A Shift
I want to be realistic in approach, as I understand a major leap from this old way of operating would upset the whole apple cart, and most of you won’t go there. And I am not an advocate for reckless, abrupt change-making. I am a proponent of well-planned, meaningful shifts designed for maximum, long-term sustainable success.
To put this into practice, take out paper and a pen and identify a desire you have. This can be a lifelong aspiration, or a major lifestyle shift you have dreamed about, etc. Go big, don’t hold back. Be as strategic as you can with this exercise. Here are some examples from actual clients, most likely with a current lifestyle, job, and family obligations similar to yours.
I want to grow our food. If I had the time, property, and know how I would create and maintain a farm to grow organic veggies and herbs each year, saving money but also lowering my family’s exposure to pesticides and mass-produced and processed food items.
I want a job that contributes something meaningful to the world (solving a big problem/helping people vs. selling stuff and focusing on EBITDA), with the possibility of learning/growth (title/scope/international travel), with people I like and will pay equal or more than my current job.
I want to find a partner that is aligned with my maturing spiritual beliefs and my interest in travel, food, and cultures around the world and is less focused on what we have/showing off houses, cars, and other expensive toys.
Just write down what you know is true in your heart.
Next, ask yourself what are three action steps that are necessary to bring your desire into long-term reality. These steps should be specific with a short-term objective of exploring and finding proof that what you desire is possible without doing anything drastic.
At the core of choosing the right action in a way that can bring a new reality into balance lies intentional decision-making. This practice requires you to cultivate self-awareness and reflect on your motives and desires. By understanding yourself better, through exploration and planning, you will start to make choices that resonate with your authentic self rather than succumbing to external pressures or societal expectations. This isn’t about abrupt changes that leave you and others confused or concerned that you are losing it! This is about a slow migration into daily choices that reduce unnecessary activities and get you on a path to purpose.
Ponder on this for a moment: how many of us are truly living with purpose and fulfillment? It's a daunting question to ask ourselves, but it needs to be addressed. The constant pressure to be busy and achieve more has become the norm in our society. We fill our schedules with endless tasks, all to keep up with the latest trends and maintain a certain lifestyle. But at what cost? We end up neglecting the most important aspect of our lives - ourselves. Our valuable time gets consumed by mundane activities, leaving us with no time or energy for the things that truly matter.
As a coach for 28 years, I have seen this cycle play out over and over again. But it doesn't have to be this way. It's time to break free from the hustle culture and start living with intention. Join me this week for Deep Work Fast LIVE where we will delve deeper into taking purpose-driven action in a way that doesn’t require you to quit your job and live with monks in Tibet. Let's break away from the trap of busyness and start focusing on what truly matters. See you Tuesday at 3:00 PM PT on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Your future self will thank you.