Journeying Towards Purpose: How Going That “Extra Mile” Can Change So Much

Photo credit: Tim Marshall,

Do you have a bigger vision for your life, but don’t know how to get there? Where can you start? How about with just one small step?

For change to happen, it’s not necessarily a big leap that’s needed — it’s those small daily choices that define where we can go next. Decision by decision, we can dream of and achieve more. By looking at our lives and the “what if’s,” we can imagine what’s possible beyond where we are now.

On The Meaningful Way, we talk a lot about how if you place your focus on changing the moments within your day, day by day you can create change — BIG change. I had the privilege of talking with Shawn Anderson — author, entrepreneur, and inspirational human being — on The Meaningful Way podcast about how to define your purpose and choose your life.

Shawn Anderson started to dream big at the age of eight, going into business selling worms to local fishermen. As a young entrepreneur, he began to become resourceful, leading him to organize events that make a difference for others. Shawn crossed the US twice on a solo bike adventure and walked 550 miles across Spain, 450 miles across Portugal, 750 miles around the island of Shikoku, Japan. A six-time motivational author, he is the creator of Extra Mile Day, which is celebrated in over 560 cities to show us all that we have the power to create positive change by choosing to go the extra mile.

During this conversation I needed to ask Shawn about how this all started and how he creates change:

Where did this journey begin?

I wanted to know what led Shawn to serve people — the real meaning and purpose behind his passions. He suggests starting by living with intention. Discovering your purpose begins with a dream of what your life could be, or of what you want to do. Uncovering this is followed by meaningful action. In Shawn’s first business selling worms, his real intention was to be able to buy baseball cards. The more worms he sold, the more gum-wrapped baseball cards he could buy at his local 7–11. He learned that he had the power to create what he wanted. Expanding his purpose, he found he wanted to make it his job to empower people.

How do we get beyond the stories we tell ourselves?

Shawn believes we live in a world of whispers — the whispers of people saying you’re not good enough. After a while, we start to think that’s who we are. I find this idea of whispers fascinating, in that there are all of these expectations that are around us, and that somewhere along the way we start to buy into them and all of a sudden the whispers around us become the whispers within us. What if we started to cheer people on and clap for them, showing them they are unbelievable, resourceful, and creative instead? What if we could be “battery chargers of the human spirit” to empower people to move beyond the negative limiting beliefs that keep them from living lives of passion and purpose? What if you could change the message you tell yourself, so you can choose powerfully, rather than from fear.

How can we set up our environment to support change?

For us to see ourselves as legitimate, motivated people, it’s important for us to surround ourselves with positive people. By hanging out with individuals who inspire you to do and be more, you can start to move forward with your dreams. Whether it’s through the books we read, the information we expose ourselves to, or the people in our lives, those choices can wake us up to the power in our life.

How do our daily choices shape our lives?

We choose our experiences, moment by moment. We can choose what happens to us in our day through the words we decide to use, where to show up, and the actions we take. Those small daily choices add up. If something happens, or we miss an opportunity, then we can choose again. We have thousands of little choices every day, and we can always wait a few minutes, and the next choice will be there.

How can we reprogram the choices we want to be making?

When we’re stuck, we can re-program our choices. By starting with asking ourselves, what kind of life we want, what kind of relationship we want to have, or what job we’d like to do, we can visualize how our perfect life would look. We can then break this down into actionable steps that choice by choice, we can get where we want to be. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work, but gradually, if we look at our life by the everyday what-ifs, we can dream bigger. What if you could take baby steps toward your goals and stay present to how your daily choices can create change?

To expand your vision, start reflecting on what’s possible. You know that’s one of the things I love reflecting on is what’s possible when you get there by considering the what-if’s — what if this, what if that? What if we knew? What if I did this for my wife? What if I did this for myself? What if got up just a little bit earlier?

Think about what those what if’s might be and align it to what that extra mile looks like to you and how that extra mile takes you to the upgraded version the 2.0, the 3.0 that you are working on evolving yourself into right now.

Check out Shawn Anderson’s interview in its entirety on The Meaningful Way podcast.

Originally published at LIVE • LEAD • PLAY.

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