The Power of a Purpose-Driven Lifestyle

Pursuit of objectives set to beat others can bring extrinsic rewards, but it can also block the achievement of personal goals – the ones that offer a sense of purpose and fulfillment. This can lead to a vague sense of emptiness and longing. The cure? Consider transitioning from a performance-driven lifestyle to a purpose-driven lifestyle. This change in focus ensures that every minute you invest has value — both for those you serve and for yourself.

Living in a Performance-Driven World

My experience as a young adult was almost entirely performance-driven. I earned my friends and gained affection by how much I could impress, rather than how much I could impact. The best that can be said is this was a safe existence for me. I knew how to keep people at a distance, and I only let them see what I wanted them to see. I could get by without any vulnerability whatsoever, and I liked it that way.

Though it was sometimes exhausting, at the time, exchanging the risk that comes with vulnerability for a collection of shallow connections seemed worthwhile. Instead of showing the “real me,” my acquaintances saw a revised version — edited, enhanced and polished to perfection. I enjoyed displaying that version to the world. After all, my more impressive persona was leaps and bounds better than the real thing. Reality distortion was just like a drug — and it was readily available, easy to take and made me feel great.

High-performance was addictive. I had so much fun climbing higher, improving my skills, and making my way into the most elite social and professional networks that there seemed to be no reason to stop. The only motivation I needed was to feel that someone had an edge over me, no matter how small, and my performance kicked into high gear.

Ditching the Performance-Driven Lifestyle

Of course, as with any drug, the high eventually wears off. For some, it’s a gradual dawning of the realization that all this climbing was leading nowhere. For me, it was like falling off a cliff. My romance with my performance-driven lifestyle was suddenly over on the day that time stood still: the day of my dad’s funeral.

It was a dim and dreary day when we said goodbye to my dad. However, there was a brilliant flash of insight. I now understand why ideas are always depicted as lightbulbs, because it felt like a lightbulb went off in my head — a lightbulb that was so powerful, it could have illuminated a small country. In that moment, I realized something that would change my entire perspective.

All who were present at my dad’s funeral loved him dearly, but not one of them cared what he DID during his life. They didn’t turn out by the hundreds to celebrate his greatest achievements in business and leadership, though these achievements were quite noteworthy. We didn’t surround my dad’s casket with certificates and medals. All those extrinsic achievements died with him.

Instead, something else was very much alive in the many guests who came to mourn my dad: the feelings he left with them. In the end, what mattered were the lives touched by his personal — not professional — impact. Though it seemed like folks were lining up to embrace our family, in actuality, it was the other way around. We heard story after story of extraordinary MOMENTS — most of which we had never heard before. They were stories of servitude, of time spent, ears lent, miles driven, honest words spoken and heart connections. I understood then that this is what matters — that my dad’s life was purpose-driven — and that I must remake my own as purpose-driven too.

The Purpose-Driven Transformation

Once upon a time, I am fairly certain my dad’s life was performance-driven. After all, I must have inherited the tendency from somewhere, right? Of course, there was also a large collection of awards and citations as well. However, somewhere along the way, he had figured out that meaning is derived from a purpose-driven life, and he changed gears. I spent time paging through his favorite books, and I saw the same handmade bookmarks again and again. The bookmarks had the words, “People are your most appreciable asset.” My dad had discovered that his real achievements and treasures had a heartbeat.

I spent a lot of time exploring this newfound realization, and as I did, I considered the small number of true connections I had. For example, I might attract a large audience for a performance on stage, but how many of these people would feel a loss at my passing? For my dad, goals weren’t about him — goals were about “them.” Until his funeral, all of my goals were about me. On that day, I made a commitment to change my focus from performance to purpose. I wanted to realize goals that I was passionate about — goals that with significance — and goals that would have a positive impact on those around me.

However, you should know that this transformation wasn’t accomplished overnight. It was a terrifying journey, because to reach my destination, I had to maneuver a painful obstacle course of self-discovery. The marvelous image of perfection had to go, and I had to get comfortable with me — a person who I had not been acquainted with for some time.

During this period, my journal was my best friend. The blank pages offered an opportunity to record my insights and see my goals in print. When you are ready to explore your own purpose, consider writing a purpose statement that is in alignment with your core values. Commit to taking at least one step towards this statement every day. Hold yourself accountable by spending a moment before bed every night to record and celebrate your last 24 hours. Seeing your transition come to life on paper will keep you inspired and allow you to track your progress as you make meaningful change towards a more purposeful life.