Replace Resolutions With Habits and Make Your Life Mean Something Beyond 2020
It seems fitting that we think about our life’s purpose and meaning this time of the year.
Humans are meaning-making machines.
~ Gabriel Mizrahi
We want to know why we’re here. What we’re meant to do.
And this is why each year, we reflect on our lives and think about what we want to achieve in the new year.
Although we use the words ‘purpose’ and ‘meaning’ interchangeably, it helps to understand the differences between the two if we’re going to figure out what we’re here for.
Gabriel Mizrahi differentiates meaning and purpose like this.
Meaning is finding what makes our lives significant, worthwhile, interesting, exciting and challenging. It’s the ‘What’.
Purpose is feeling a sense of meaning. It’s the way we explore the significance of our lives. It leads us to discover an activity, role, set of actions, projects, goals or relationships that help us access that sense of meaning. It’s the ‘How’.
So to sum it up, I quote Jordan Harbinger in his article, ‘ Struggling To Find Your Purpose? Do This Instead’:
You should be following meaning to purpose instead of picking a purpose and hoping it’s full of meaning.
It all makes sense.
Up until now, I’ve been too busy making a living, taking care of young kids and stressing about our debt to think about anything else.
But I’d always followed what I felt called to do, day by day, month by month, year by year.
Hearing how Gabriel and Jordan define a purpose, meaning and how to find it has made all my disparate interests, adventures and misadventures in my life make sense.
But Surely, This Can’t Be My Life’s Purpose, Can It?
The purpose in our lives may manifest in ways we don’t quite expect and in my case, perhaps, even want, at times.
For a while, I was an unwilling breadwinner of our family. In fact, I resented it, having been raised in a family where male breadwinning is the predominant expectation and norm.
But being thrown into this role partly as a result of my own choices and partly because of circumstances helped me become the person I had longed to be.
It helped me discover meaning in my life.
In my previous search for purpose, I’d asked to be a stronger, braver, more generous and confident person.
I knew that my life would be meaningful if I could help others transform their lives and become someone they’d never have imagined they could.
Then I became a wife and mom. A breadwinning mom at that.
And I realized, this role has helped me (and even forced me kicking and screaming at times) to discover my purpose.
Except I didn’t realize it before because I was expecting to find this ‘purpose’ through my job alone.
This is exactly what Gabriel and Jordan mean when they say that finding your purpose doesn’t only have to come in the form of or through your job.
So how do we live a life of purpose and make our lives count?
How To Build a Life Filled With Purpose
One word — Action.
When we focus on action,
We make something real out in the world, then follow it until it reveals our purpose.
~ Jordan Harbinger
As I read about how successful people live their lives, I discovered some common themes.
They didn’t get to their current success by starting out doing big, great, transformational things.
Instead, they focused on the small, ordinary, consistent actions that over time, got them to where they are today.
James Clear talks about making our habits part of our daily routine in his book, ‘ Atomic Habits ‘.
Ryan Holiday says it’s about the ritual in his article on Medium, ‘ How to Develop Better Habits ‘.
Brene Brown talks about how dangerous it can be when we start thinking ‘ordinary’ as synonymous with ‘meaningless’ in her book ‘ The Gifts of Imperfection ‘.
Whatever you want, it comes down to consistent, ‘ordinary’ execution and action.
This is what differentiates the winners from losers, the successful from unsuccessful.
That’s what will help us discover the purpose of our lives.
I’ve found that applying 4 techniques to habit-building that James Clear and Ryan Holiday talk about most useful.
4 Ways to Take Action, Build Habits And Live A Purposeful Life
1. Make it Part of Your Daily Routine
Both James Clear and Ryan Holiday quote the example of professional dancer Twyla Tharp.
Considered one of the greatest dancers and choreographers, Twyla credits much of her success to the simple daily habit of getting dressed and getting into a cab that takes her to the gym where she trains.
The ritual is getting into the cab.
It’s a simple thing that is repeated in the same way each morning.
Because it is part of a daily routine, it becomes easy to do and so becomes habitual, almost second nature.
I’ve made my morning ritual part of my routine. Each morning begins at 5 am with meditation, yoga, journaling and a short 15 minutes to write if I have the time before starting the day at 6 am.
Although it doesn’t seem like much to spend 10 minutes with each activity, over time, this ritual has become something I look forward to every day. It’s helped me achieve a level of inner peace I wouldn’t have if I was rushing every morning.
2. The 2-Minute Rule
To make it even more specific, James Clear introduces the 2-Minute Rule.
When starting a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do. Nearly any habit can be scaled down to a two-minute version.
This makes it easy to do. And stick with.
3. Stack New Habits On Current Ones
James Clear calls this ‘Habit Stacking’ and Ryan Holiday uses the term ‘Piggybacking’ new habits on old habits.
Whatever you call it, the idea is that new habits stick more easily when you build them onto an already existing habit.
Back to my morning ritual, my journaling happens with my original habit of coffee each morning.
I also stacked the meditation and yoga before journaling, telling myself, I’ll have my coffee after meditating and yoga.
4. Identity-Based Habits
Instead of focusing on the end results, identity-based habits mean we focus on building habits associated with the type of person we want to be.
What’s the future version of yourself that you envision?
For me, it’s to be the CEO of a profitable online business and a role model to my kids, husband, and family.
What does being that person entail? What do I need to do to be that person right now?
For example, to be a savvy CEO of a successful online business, I need to have commercial acumen, I need to understand how to run a business, the kind of people I want to work in that business, the sort of solution to win loyal customers, to have the reputation and be known for what I do.
What would habits would I need to develop to achieve all that?
Asking yourself questions about what it takes to be that person you want to be, helps you identify specific actions to take today and whether you’re willing to take those actions to be that person.
To Sum Up…
If you want to make 2020 and the rest of your life count, focus on your identity and the small daily habits required of that identity.
In our age of instant gratification and immediate rewards and results, we’ve forgotten to enjoy the moments that make up our life.
Have patience and take each small step at a time to build your legacy.
What matters isn’t the size of the step you take; what matters is that you take it.
~ Barack Obama
If you liked what you read and want to learn more about overcoming financial anxiety and be financially free, please subscribe to my blog here to receive updates and my free E-Book, ‘12 Smart Money Habits for Busy People’ which also contains a link to download my free E-Book, ‘Be Brave and Ask For What You Want: A Guide On Asking for the Money You’re Worth’.
Originally published at https://twopointzero.me on January 2, 2020.