Acting with purpose is imperative in order to live a healthy, fulfilling life. We talk about this in fitness a lot. Why do you train? It’s important to have purpose behind your training.
But don’t fail to apply that same principle to areas outside of fitness. Everything in your life, just like fitness, must be done with purpose. It’s so easy to become distracted by arbitrary “rules of completion” when doing things. Said differently, there are certain standards that have been come to be expected when completing a certain task. For example, your lawn should look perfect with no weeds, or every corner of your house should be vacuumed on cleaning day.
What happens when you follow these rules of completion? The purpose behind the task changes. Instead of weeding your lawn in order to have a nice grassy area for your kids to play, you weed your lawn in order to have a weeded lawn. Instead of vacuuming so that you can stay healthy and avoid allergies, you vacuum so that your house will be vacuumed.
Everyone has a greater purpose behind the way that they live their lives. If you have a family, your greater purpose is likely to provide a safe, happy, and healthy home for your children to grow up in. Your greater purpose may be to become the best person you can be, or to give back to the human race. And your purposes behind the daily tasks that you do need to line up with this greater purpose.
Take an example of a house project. Say you need to re-caulk your bathtub. Following the rules of completion, you would remain dissatisfied with the project until the caulk looked perfect and neat, which for many of us who aren’t master craftsmen or artists may take a frustrating amount of time, or indeed may never reach the level of perfection that the rules of completion demand. But say instead that you know the true purpose behind this project is to keep your bathtub nice so that your child can continue to have hours of fun bathing. In that case, whether the caulk ends up looking perfect or a bit uneven, you will be satisfied with having fulfilled your greater purpose of providing for your family.
When you find yourself obsessing over getting something just right, think back to your greater purpose and decide whether that obsession lines up with it. In some cases it may, such as if you or a family member has severe asthma and the house really does need to be dust-free. In that case you wouldn’t be vacuuming in order to have a vacuumed house, you’d be vacuuming in order to have a healthy family, which lines up with the greater purpose.
Learn to recognize when you’re falling for the trap of following the rules of completion. It’s not always easy to spot, and on the flip side it’s easy to tell yourself stories about what your true purpose is or isn’t. You may truly think that you’re serving your greater purpose, and you could indeed be doing that. But don’t just accept that. Be critical of yourself and really reflect on whether the actions you take and the tasks you complete serve yourself or your family, or if they simply allow you to tick off a rule of completion. Acting with your greater purpose in mind is the only way to live intentionally!